You know how I love lists, and here comes another. This topic is courtesy of Stasha of North West Mommy.
These are ten things I did as a kid that I wish kids today could do.
1. I wish kids were allowed to play all day in the sand and muck without worrying about soiling or tearing their clothes. Maybe it was just me. I didn't have clothes that anyone would care about (I had a lot of my sister's hand-me-downs and she's about half a foot shorter than me - but that's a post for another time), so I just played and got dirty.
2. In fact, I didn't pay too much attention to my looks until about grade 9. That's when I started wearing makeup. I wish kids didn't feel so much pressure to look mature. Kids used to be allowed to be kids.
3. I wish kids could go to school or anywhere without having to sanitize their hands upon entering, before eating, before playing with toys... etc. Hand sanitizer is probably to blame for the crazy number of colds our kids bring home these days. Remember when we used to wash our hands in the sink when we came inside from playing? With soap? What the heck is wrong with soap?
4. I wish kids were allowed to run. There are so many places where I have to ask my son to use 'walking feet'. I'm not sure I was much of a runner as a child, but I sure had the opportunity. Don't run, little Johnny. You might trip and fall! Ahh... and? You might hurt yourself. Yes... and?
5. In fact, kids aren't allowed to do much of anything the least bit daring with their bodies. Yes, it's true that playground safety is a real concern. But, we're all so paranoid, thanks to the media and our health agencies' helpful, but perhaps sometimes overzealous, warning messages, that our kids are not being allowed to learn about their capabilities and test their limits. A healthy level of fear is important, but we're in danger of passing on this debilitating paranoia to our kids.
6. I honestly wish preschool wasn't necessary. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE that there is a place my child can go and have a good time while also learning. He loves to learn. (I love 'me' time.) But, the fact that people can be heard saying things like, "If you don't send your child to preschool, they'll never keep up in Kindergarten and Grade 1." The pressure on kids these days is intense. Apparently, some kids at the kindergarten level are being sent home with an hour's worth of homework. HOMEWORK! Nutty.
7. We used to walk to school all by ourselves. We were aware of stranger danger. Stay-at-home moms displayed Block Parent decals in their windows. We walked to school confidently, sometimes with friends, sometimes completely alone. And we survived. I know. I know. There are real dangers, and I will definitely be walking my own child to school until I am very confident that he will be able to take care of himself. It's just sad that kids are losing their independence in this way.
8. I wish that kids spent more time socializing face-to-face. Our adult obsessions with electronics and social media have affected the way our kids interact with each other. When I was a kid... (Oh, Lord. I'm starting to sound like my parents. That reminds me of a Bill Cosby sketch - see below.) When I was a kid, there were no cell phones. There was no Twitter, no Facebook, and no texting. If I wanted to see a friend, I got off my a## and walked over to her house.
9. We used to watch maybe an hour of TV a day. Our first computer was... I'm going to seriously date myself here... a Commodore Vic 20. It didn't provide much in the way of entertainment - not by today's standards, anyway. Essentially, we did not have a lot of 'screen time'. We played. Outside. With our friends. With... gasp... our siblings even. If we got bored, we found something to do, rather than looking for entertainment from a shiny box/tablet/iGadget/etc. Now, when kids get bored, they are quickly and easily entertained. (Oh, I'm not judging. I'm guilty of passing over the iPad on a particularly rough day. It's just a tad sad, is all.)
10. Generally speaking, I wish kids had the opportunities today that I had as a child. Opportunities to test their limits and build confidence, opportunities to really connect with friends and family, and just simply the time to be kids. Kids need to play, to discover, to learn, to make mistakes, to solve their own problems, to feel capable.
Phew. That was a tad depressing! It's not all bad. Kids do have some amazing opportunities of other sorts these days. The fact that preschool is an option is a bonus. That they can keep in touch with relatives from far away using things like FaceTime and Skype is a real treat. If they are watching TV, at least there are nowadays a multitude of educational and morally appropriate options.
If you're still sad, remember that our parents worried about us as their parents worried about them. We had it so much better, yet so much harder, than our kids, but not nearly so good or so challenging as our parents or their parents and so on. It's probably never as bad as it seems to us. It's our job to worry and to lament the loss of childhood.
I saw Bill Cosby live as a kid, and I will never forget this sketch. The thought of it when I am taking things too seriously, always helps me to put it all in perspective... and to laugh.