When Kids Were Just Kids
Since summer has arrived and school is out, my facebook page is filled with pictures of the kids and grandkids of my facebook friends at amusement parks, or at the beach.
Things sure have changed since the days when I was a kid. Back then, we kids were just content to hop on the back of one of the local dinosaurs and go for a spin around the wilderness.
Just kidding! I'm old, but I'm not quite that old!
My point to all of this silliness is: When did it become the parents' responsibility to entertain their kids?
I never once looked to my parents for entertainment once school was out for the summer. I was just tickled to death not to have to do a single thing if I didn't want to. I'd already had enough living on a schedule in school for the last nine months.
These days a lot of parents feel that it's their duty to provide daily entertainment for their offspring. Each day of their summer vacation is planned lest their little darlings get bored and begin pouting.
My question is: What's wrong with just letting them entertain themselves?
The only source of entertainment that my parents ever provided for me was a bike, a pair of skates, a set of jacks and a swim suit. Oh, and a length of clothesline rope, which was used for jumping rope with a some of my friends.
Back then a mother's job was to keep the house reasonably clean, have a meal on the table at supper time and make sure that their kids got a good bath every night. And fathers had just one job to do and that was to go to work each day at the paper mill and bring home a paycheck. When it came to entertainment, we made our own kind of fun. Back then, the order of the day was "do it yourself."
Why is it that parents in today's world give themselves a major guilt trip if they haven't spent a fortune and all of their spare time making sure that their kids are never bored? Heaven forbid that their kids should have to think of something to do all by themselves!
I can't remember ever getting up on a summer morning and asking my mother, "So, what do you have planned to do for entertainment today?" I suppose I was too afraid that she'd come up with something unique like mowing the lawn, washing down the porches, or giving me some ironing to do.
Once school was out I got up out of bed in the mornings, got dressed, ate my breakfast and made off like a bandit after a bank robbery, before she got any ideas in her head about how I could help out around the house on that particular day.
Page 2 of 3 - Like most kids back then my bike was my most prized possession. Growing up in Luke, as I did, if you had a bike, there was always something to do and somewhere to take off to with the other neighborhood kids.
Until we got old enough to walk to Piedmont to the swimming pool, a garden hose set on spray and hung over a clothesline was the perfect way to spend a hot afternoon.
Being the tomboy that I was, I loved to go exploring out around the hill towards Bloomington with the neighborhood gang of boys I grew up with. We would spend days making huts out in the woods and carrying milk jugs of Kool- Aid and packs of crackers from home to make our own snacks.
Sometimes I did play jacks or go roller skating with my girlfriends and often we just sat around on somebody's front porch and talked. The most exciting moment for me in the summer was when my Summer Edition Weekly Reader arrived in the mail!
It never entered any of our minds that we should look to our parents for entertainment. In the first place, we knew that they probably couldn't afford far-off trips to the zoo or amusement parks so we knew better than to ask.
If we were deprived, none of us ever knew it. I can still remember looking at the calendar on the last day of school and counting how many days of freedom I had until I would once again have to return to class. The long, hot days of summer stretched out before me, giving me a sense of freedom and contentment that many of today's kids probably don't even appreciate.
Their parents are too busy making sure that they get to attend at least one summer camp or numerous trips to water or amusement parks. The poor kids, (yes, I said POOR!) never get a free moment to just be kids and come up with their own kind of summer fun. Each day of their summer vacation is programmed and scheduled for them.
My question is: What happens when they become adults and finally learn that life is not just one big trip to an amusement park? What happens when they learn that there's no such thing as a free lunch in this world, and they're forced to go to work each day and make a living? It's bound to be a rude awakening when they discover there's a whole lot more to life than fun and games.
Why not just let your kids be kids for one summer? Let them think of their own ways to entertain themselves.
Yes, they might get dirty (Heaven, forbid!) and they might make some messes, but after all, it's their summer vacation and if you stop planning each and every single minute of it for them, you might just find out that your kids will actually enjoy learning to just be kids!
Page 3 of 3 - Hey, it could happen!