Treadmill

I, as most writers are, am an observer of culture, persons, and things.  I love to people watch and usually am quiet in a crowd of others; well, that is until I get to know you well or have had a glass of wine, whichever comes first!

One of the trends I witness (and am susceptible to) is the "Go, go, go!" atmosphere of child-rearing.  It's as if we, being parents, must keep our children from any type of boredom in any form at all moments of the day no matter what the cost to our family life as a whole.  We cart kids from one activity to another, schedule their summer vacation to the nth degree, and pack the school day from pre-dawn to post-sunset. All of this, I'm told, can be gathered into two main categories:
  • We don't want them to get into trouble
  • Keeping kids busy is good for them
Well, I'm going to be honest, I don't think either of those is valid enough for me to practically live in my car, have to get a second job to pay for or sacrifice my dinner time with my kids to accommodate; Let alone the sleep deprivation and the stripping our children of the real and important ability to truly be 'bored'.  I don't think the advent of gadgets such as fidget spinners should surprise anyone who is paying attention:  the majority of the kids that use them or are fascinated by them are the ones who don't have any down time or chance to simply be a kid.

I have boys and only boys so I understand the need, firsthand, that boys in particular have to burn off energy.  It's a real and tangible growing experience that all boys must go through in order to mature properly.  Not only do they need to run, play, jump, and climb, they must do so frequently and in the outdoors; no gymnasium will do.  They also must do so on their terms which means no 'organized' sports before high school because, truly, that's a parent's doing, not the kids.

Yet, we see kids, boys in particular, who not only haven't been able to learn to control the surges of testosterone by climbing the roof of the pole barn or hoisting his bike up in a tree, he is medicated to sit still in class and alternately allowed to spin gadgets to get him to focus.  It's insane, really.  All he needs is to get outside without adults getting crazy with interference and arbitrary rules.  (when I say this, I don't mean common sense rules, ie: no punching, throwing dirt at someone else [which is not the same as throwing dirt for, say, a sandstorm that must destroy the universe] I mean adults who contrive rules and interfere with kids' games and inventions).

I'm pretty sure this is an exact depiction of my boys at their fort
Pair this with electronics, especially gaming, allowing kids to take phones to bed (to do what, exactly, in the wee hours of the morning??) and get a pasty glow for being inside most of the day.  My kid goes outside you say?  For football practice?  or Baseball? or even Soccer?  Ok, so what time do they do so?  At what cost to your family time and expense? When have they played a pick-up game of any of those sports on his own? Without adult interference?  Or played for the sake of fun, not practice?  And were you able to have dinner as a family?  Pray together? Played a game together?

If the sports are 'good for' kids, what more can a simple dinner together be?  How about a good night's sleep?  Or eliminating the stress of making the team, endless coaching, or training and just enjoying the sport for the sports sake?  Or, horror of all modern horrors, give the kids a chance to become bored with NO phone, NO internet, NO sport practice, NO game, NO adult guidance, just the great outdoors and a mind that is waiting to be awakened in Nature.

There is nothing; absolutely, unequivocally, NOTHING that is better for kids than mom and dads' undivided attention [which means we put the phones down too!] No sport, no team, no game, nada. This is what forms a character while outdoor imagination takes over the physical aspect. Then, and only then, can real learning in a classroom occur when a child is fed spiritually, physically, and mentally, knowing he is secure and loved, his lungs full of fresh air.

We, as parents, desire the very thing for our families [health, intellectual formation, physical well-being, conversations, laughter together, bonding, and security] that we are denying our families by running, running, running ourselves ragged and working to pay bills that [maybe] are unnecessary due to all the activities we plug the kids into.

So, either we really don't desire it [time, bonding, daily dinner together, spiritual health] and just say it because that's what we are supposed to say; or we do desire it, but don't know how to make that change or are not prepared to deal with the cries and plea's for the electronic babysitter or to be on the team {because that's where all the 'cool' kids are - really, it's a feeling of belonging.  And it's hard to feel like you belong with your family if you spend only 10 hours at home which includes sleeping time} I dare say, most of it is because we don't have the wherewithal to look up and hit the emergency stop on the treadmill of modern life.
This is my idea of heaven
Because who's the gatekeeper of your family? You are.  It's time to be honest and get down to the dirty work of claiming back our homes, our kids' minds, their well-being and our family.  It's time to say no, even to a legitimate good [your high school daughter wants to be on the cheer team] because you need to make room for a greater good [softball season just ended and you need take a breather after the demands of the sport]

If you can look around and lament at the state of our culture and our Nation, then you're ready.  And it begins right at home. 


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