One thing that has baffled me the last 15 years or so is how scared Western culture is. With the advent of 24/7 news, we have created bogeyman after bogeyman, keeping many a person glued to their television in terror, waiting to be told how they will next die. I’ve got some pretty severe anxiety problems, aye and a dose of paranoia too, but even I think most people are ridiculous. The world isn’t appreciably more dangerous today than it ever was, but because the stations have to put something on, is it any surprise that they’ll opt for what gets them more viewers? After all, terror and death attracts and holds better than puppies and sweetness.
With that in mind, I wanted to share something I saw earlier this week; it’s good food for thought:
Why Johnny Can’t Run
One thing that has always vexed me is the assumption that kids are stupid. Even as a teenager and a young adult (who still looked like a teenager, to be fair), I had to deal with a lot of condescension, and then surprise when I had intelligent and thought-out stances on things. Kids aren’t stupid, mes amis – they are tiny sponges and they will pick up on your overdrive anxiety and fear and worry and neurotic ways. They don’t need to be doing this – they need to be pushing every boundary, and yes, maybe even breaking a few bones in the pursuit of knowledge. Bones heal, and lessons are learned; one usually avoids repeating things that cause them pain! But they need to be able to determine what is safe and what is dangerous on their own. And as this article suggests – play teaches so freaking much. Besides sharing and caring and turn-taking, it helps to instill a life-long appreciation of free spiritedness, of making one’s own enjoyment. I proudly state that I am easily amused, because my parents ignored the pressure to force their little geniuses to perform, and let us be kids. If that was curling up alone with a book, so be it. If it was covering the entire block in chalk and then having a parade, so be it. They set reasonable boundaries, obviously – don’t leave the block without getting permission first, be aware of time, etc, but because they did, the boundaries they set at more stubborn, teen-based ages didn’t seem a burden. They had established a language of trust and understanding that the boundaries we had set were for our own good, well explained, and rarely punitive.
So, long and short – if you are a parent and you love your kids – let them run a bit freer, yo. I’m not saying throw them out until the street lights come on (though that is also awesome), but at least trust them enough to let them go play without you hovering. Let them climb on things that they shouldn’t climb on, touch stoves, the lot – you’ll be much happier with the result than if you shove them in a dark corner until they’re ready to go to college or start working. 😉 Or not – your kids, your choice. All I know is that mine is gonna have lots of fun at the park, and I probably will quite happily leave her to it on her own once she’s old enough for it!