We cared only about a few things- playing, playing and playing some more; then we slept, well, because all that play made you tired and truly not much to do after dark. And we also ate (and we didn’t have McDonalds). Baths were also not what they are today. We played with each other, toys were not optional just not an entitlement neither were they pervasive so we made our own toys and boy, did we improvise. Necessity is the mother of invention for real. Church was not optional either, and neither was an effort made for it to be fun. Time and place for everything…….we learnt that very quickly.
Hence, while I was at church yesterday I started noticing the kids. They are just like we were. Church is not optional for them either, but with children’s ministry, as an adult I think church is fun. I can’t speak for the kids, or can I? And yes they played and played and played ………just because that’s what kids do. These kids really do not get to engage with other kids like that, much anyway. So yes, they learn to make the most of the time- even if it’s at church. And eating, well that seemed to be an inconvenience, a waste of good play time, thrusted upon us/them via force or blackmail. As kids we knew the consequences of ‘romping’ in church. We had many other opportunities anyway…..although we would have, if given the chance. And as it regarded eating of vegetables and soups……aside from the one or two boll weevil, I quote Henry Kissinger ” the absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously” How does that work now? Do these kids love their veggies and soups?
Today kids are sent to all kinds of lessons: swimming, music, art, self-defense, soccer, other sports, dance, extra academic classes etc. Poor kids, hardly anytime to ‘play’. Play for us, taught us to become social beings at no financial cost to our parents……Back home, I see this restriction on child’s play quietly creeping in and while I know safety is a big issue we need not make it an excuse; apparently too keeping the kids clean, isolated and untainted is a badge of honour. But as adults we hardly speak the same language as kids, you would think we know that.
Kids will be kids- even if they have all the video games and toys in the world. Of course, I noticed yesterday too the occasional boy- no surprise here, glued to some screen playing some game which at a glance seems violent, of course. Now when we went to church, the only thing we took was a bible- whether you could read it or not, and couple icy mints. Have we ever thought how culpable we are, in all the school shootings and random killings???…..after all, without play, kids do not learn much about healthy competition, fair play, conflict and anger resolution and connection. Connecting has to be taught even though we are born connected. Now I must add this caveat, I have met parents who have migrated just because they want their kids to play…… I do not for a minute, dispel the fact that in some places, kids are just not safe if they are allowed to go out and play. I hear gruesome tales about organ harvesting, ransom kidnappings and many other horror stories.
Parents love to say these modern day kids are different…..no doubt being born in the 21st centrury means a whole lot of ‘rights’ and exposure. But is it the kids fault when they exploit all the boundaries or live outside the boundaries? After all, I see them doing the same things we did and pushing the limits too, just like we did…..just that they get pass we didn’t….. ask yourself then who or what has changed? For all I know, rights come with responsibilities and exposure requires shades and sunscreen. Kids who run amok, kids who are always happy, always told yes, always get their way, do not become courageous or functional adults. Parents are not called to be perfect, kids pay closer attention than you think…..they need to see mistakes and vulnerability and then they need to see how you pick yourself up and find solutions…..after all they are not born into and will not live in a perfect world.
I know a mother, a wealthy family; whose kids do not get gifts just because it’s a holiday or a special occasion. They have a scoring system with merit and demerits, for their kids. They earn their gifts when a maximum number of points are earned. I cast no stones here….. and this goes both ways. For on Valentines Day, the mom does not demand a gift from them, she merely asks. This is then usually made, not bought……ingenious way to teach them creativity and improvising, right!… and vacations are sometimes to locations where poverty and need, can be seen first-hand.
No one they say is born courageous nor prejudiced. That is true…..just look at how kids interact with each other. Our play mates came from a wide crossection- from sore foot this, picky head and lice head that, tiefing John’s son, prostituting Jane’s daughter, holier than thou Mary Janes, one room Annie and flush toilet Jack- we didn’t care, although I know our parents were concerned somewhat. Are kids born obedient and humble? Or are those taught too? What I know is that discipline is a necessary tool in parenting…..and don’t even bother to counter with the argument that you don’t want your kids to hate you. Yes they will, but when you allow them to self- destruct, they will at that time for sure. I have seen grown men and women who punish their parents (overtly and covertly) in so many ways, for just that. Remember what happened to Eli, the high priest who didn’t scowl his two sons and just look at what is said at Exodus 34 v 6-7……..Discipline is a loving gesture, and must not be viewed in the warped way we currently do, of course I am not talking about physical or verbal abuse.
A friend of mine a couple years ago told me that whenever she is having a hard time parenting she just call on her child-less friends. I read in a magazine days ago, of an author who does the same thing. Her reason is similar, she says those friends are sane and well rested…….I found this to be wisdom and vulnerability at the core…….to trust your parenting decisions to those who can least empathize. But apparently it works…….I have a cousin who does the same thing too, come to think of it. Childless myself- I oft refrain from offering parenting advice…..who am I to know? After all, the first thing I am usually told is “you are not qualified to offer me advice here”…. not in so many words of course. The other thing is, people love to ascribe blame and devolve themselves of responsibility when things go wrong- we love easy targets. Either way when I somehow get to be in the line of fire, I either listen or put in my two cents……after all it still takes a village.