Is it me or are kids waaaaay more overloaded with life than I was as a kid? They are forced to grow up so fast! I look around and it seems like there are kids with busier schedules than mine! They go from sport to sport and activity to activity like they are earning a pay check. They have back problems from carrying an overwhelming load of homework, so to eliminate that they now pull around luggage. What?! They have cell phones. They dress like they are in college. And, I’m just talking about elementary school kids! It’s like society and parents want them to hurry up and turn 18 or something. When did being a kid become a job?
I was a kid in the 80’s and a teen-turned-adult in the 90’s. I had activities and homework, but it didn’t stress me out (well, high school was demanding), but in general life was about exploring and learning and my memories are of playing. Now it seems like being a kid requires a degree. They multitask just as much as adults do. I don’t think that’s a good thing. Shouldn’t it be about sleepovers and sled riding and trips to the beach and winning your baseball game and having your first crush instead of how much school work you have or how many activities you are involved with? It seems like parents are constantly teaching their kids to act grown-up and to be “big boys and girls.” I’ve heard about kids learning to ride bikes at age two and reading far before the early years of school. They are far younger when they stop believing in Santa and the Tooth Fairy. Please understand, I’m not condemning any of these things (especially learning) I just don’t identify with the rush to force these things. I think it’s safe to say that in cases like these, it’s probably parent-driven. Yes, there are exceptions. There are kids that glob onto things for whatever reason and it’s all they want to do, but that’s different. They are choosing it. Take my son for example. He’s been golfing since he was two. It started with a little plastic set someone gave him and ever since he’s been obsessed with it. But, we let him make the call.
I think we are all guilty of this in some form or another though. I’ve been known to tell my five year old to “act like a big boy.” And yes, as soon as he was old enough we got him involved in organized sports, but one sport at a time. None of this running from soccer right after baseball is over business. He’s five! He gets 10-12 hours a sleep every night because he needs it. All day kindergarten alone is exhausting. My daughter is only 17 months old; and let’s face it, the clothes out there for her that mimic mine are so dang cute! I just took a picture of her the other day in her little leggings and UGG-like boots. Cuteness explosion! The point is my husband and I are trying not to force them to grow up, well, minus the cute clothes. They have enough coming at them from life itself, so we let them come to us. Kids are smart; they’ll let you know when they are ready for things.
Can we all agree that being an adult is not easy? So, why should we want our kids to hurry up and get there? Yes, we should teach them new things. Yes, we should want them to be independent. Yes, they should be well-rounded. But, shouldn’t those things come naturally rather than being forced? Kids have enough things coming at them from society telling them to grow up without their parents adding undue pressure. Let’s allow our kids to be kids. The time they have in this space is so short as it is.