I’m starting to think that sometimes in our overwhelming desire to give our children the ‘very best’ we’re in fact giving them the very worst.
I remember as a kid I never had Playstation, I never had hand-held games, I never had in-car dvd players, (our air con consisted of using one arm to manually wind down a window…..torturous I know!) I never had millions of toys. I had only a few stuffed ones that I loved so much they slept with me every night, in fact I STILL have Mr and Mrs Thumper!
My bedroom was not piled high with tvs, digital ‘things’ colourful plastic toys. It had a bed. My clothes and the ‘art’ I’d make out of recycled junk I’d gleam from behind our kitchen bin before the rubbish was taken out. I had some paper and pens…..and that was it. My bedroom was for sleeping. Our house was just that.
A roof over our heads.
Nothing excessive. Nothing fancy.
Our pantry was not filled with sugar caked, brightly wrapped snacks. Our fridge held all those colourful veggies that gave me energy to play, play, play.
Outside was our playground.
We had a couple of battered bikes, yet we had just as much fun with a wheel barrow and a couple of 44 gallon drums. Trees were our ‘castles’ an old sheet strung up in that said tree was better than any shiny pre-built cubby house.
We had an imagination, we’d hunt bees dressed in every single piece of clothing we owned. To avoid stings of course. We’d make garlands out of weeds and clover and garden picked flowers. We’d watch clouds roll by while listening to birds until the stars began to pop out, then we’d count them until there were so many it was impossible to ever count them all.
We weren’t drones attached to controllers. We never sat for hours staring at screens.
There were no cartoon character ‘baby sitters’ we were addicted too.
We very rarely said “I’m booooored!”
What happened to kids being kids?
Scrapped knees = bad parent.
Torn clothes = cheap parent.
Grubby hands and faces = neglectful parent.
Well I am a bad, cheap AND neglectful parent!
But my kids are smiling.
Does that even matter anymore?
Kids now are basically mini living breathing accessories we whip out and go *in a posh voice of course* “Look at my Daaaarling; she just got the newest pair of shoes…they we’re like one huuuuunDRED and twenty miiiiilion dollars!” (really exaggerated that one…)
How come kids need brand new, BRAND name clothes every week? Which of course they aren’t allowed to play in, because it was sooo expensive, god forbid a stain or tear.
How comes they NEED the newest, latest and greatest gadgets? To keep them ‘out of our hair’ and entertained.
How come WE think they need massive costly houses? To keep all their gadgets and walk-in wardrobes in?..
how come, how come???
Well, I for one don’t like it. Not one bit. My kids are not show pieces. They are little free beings and I’d like them to explore, play and BE OUTSIDE getting scrapped knees and having fun. REAL fun. The HEALTHY kind of fun.
I won’t wrap them in cotton wool and ‘shelter’ them.
Just because we may be able to afford the ‘best of the best’ in regards to clothes, shoes, toys and all the rest doesn’t really mean that’s what is ‘needed.’
giving my children ‘whats best’ in my opinion comes down to less is more.
They’re not getting tvs in their bedrooms, they’re probably not even going to have their OWN rooms, they’re not getting phones or computers or anything like that until they can pay for it themselves AND they will begin to work at 14…paper run, whatever…something. 1/3 of their pay will go to savings. 1/3 will go to mum and dad to put away (board we’re telling them) and 1/3 for spending. They need to know how to manage money in a time when it’s so easily wasted. It isn’t hard to be materialistic. They need to know what being responsible is all about.
I probably look to far ahead into the future but I would like to think of the adults I’m raising my kids to be.Its one thing to have a baby but another to raise a new person. I’m aiming for honest, approachable, kind, caring, unique, happy individuals.
Or not……they can be what they choose.
But that is what I’d like.
I’m sorry but I can not stand the idea of my children being materialistic, selfish, self-absorbed, money hungry, needy people who can’t stand on their own two feet, think with their own minds and be who they are.
I’m tired of turning up to kids parties…like LITTLE kids parties only to have a bunch of highly groomed mothers fussing over cake crumbs on their little ‘princesses’ dresses. What happened to getting messy? Giggles? Cake fight?…why not? We’re so darn busy trying to impress each other with how cute/smart/clever/funny/fashionable our toddlers are, we’ve lost sight of what we’re teaching our kids.
I watched the sweetest docco a few weeks back….actually more like a couple of months. It was called babies. It was about 4 babies from 4 different locations in the world. From the last tinsy bit of pregnancy to the end of their first year. The funny thing about watching it was that I felt sorry for the baby born in Tokyo and the Californian born little girl. While they were rushed from playdates where they had to be prim and proper, then to be shoved into baby dance classes where most spent time screaming while their mums bounced them up and down to weird music, to back home where mums forced ‘nude spa bonding’ time on, again crying babies…. to dads jiggling mobile phones in front of stunned baby faces so he could do what ever it was on his computer..(hope it wasn’t blogging..) to not being allowed to touch certain foods and certain plants and certain pets AND certain people and be jabbed with this needle and poked with that….Oh.my.god.
It was sad and stressful to watch those poor little things be dragged around day in day out.
Sociable. Fashionable. Popular.
Um….does this mean happy?
Maybe makes mum feel better.
Then there was the Mongolian baby. *insert knowing chuckle, slight head shake* He was cute. He spent most of his early crawling days tied to a table leg. Yes that’s right. He had a length of fabric tied around his waist and then the other end to the table leg. He couldn’t go far and could only get into so much while mum was out working on the land and milking cows and herding animals and the such. She was not a ‘hands on’ mum. But that baby was happy. Well at least when his older sibling wasn’t hitting him or shoving food in his mouth. Which was often. But really he was left to his own devices. He wrestled with cats as he got bigger, and watched chickens peck and scavenge by his head as a small babe. Ok so even I think he was a tad neglected.
Just a smidge more than a tad.
Then there was the most beautiful african baby. Everything appealed to me about him, his mum, his whole lifestyle. While the mothers in Tokyo and Californian we’re getting hooked up to drips and monitor,s getting injections for who knows what, using strange and very technological ways of dealing with labour and birthing, people rushing in and out of fluro lit sterile rooms fussing over them like…something obessively fussy.
Little african baby’s mum was chanting and rubbing ochre onto her very pregnant belly (massage…. and no I do not practise mud smearing during labour…I’d be willing to try it though.) she later gave birth naturally, out in the ‘dirty’ dirt. In the ‘unhygienic’ outdoors. She then curled up with her baby, un harassed, un stressed to work out how she and her baby would be feeding. She radiated peace and that baby was placid from day one.
He spent not a moment away from his mother that first 6 months, feeding on demand, cuddling whenever (he didn’t even wear a nappy, she’d wipe his bum over her knee then scrape off his ‘mess’ with a stick or corn cob or whatever was available -and NO this is NOT something I’d be willing to try!-)
His mother had not a care in the world, nothing to rush off to, no ‘cleaning chores’ that needed to be put before her baby. She held him, talked to him, kissed him, fed him, they slept together….now THATS bonding. (naked spa bonding?…)
While mother’s in Tokyo stressed about their baby eating eggs and nuts, little african baby lay in the dirt giggling to him self chewing a rock….he splased carelessly in a small trickle of running water, he groped at the mouths of their ‘wild’ (tame) dogs, he teethed on old bones…of somekind. Yet he was plump, bright-eyed and he was smiling non stop. He wasn’t hounded by an over bearing mother but could explore. He wasn’t wrapped in cotton wool but allowed to experience the reactions that come from our actions. He learnt via experience, touch and feel.
He was a clever little man. He was the FIRST one of the four babies to say ‘muma’ AND answer to his name. He’d physically hug his muma and smile so knowingly, I was so proud of little…I wish I could remember his name!….it’s just not something the others did. Maybe it was my sorry feeling for them….but I swore, at least once they looked at their mums and dads with a ‘what the hell are you doing to me?…’ type look….”I’m a person not a toy!”….Wouldn’t you think those thousands of dollars spent in Californian on speech and early…EARLY education would have had something to show for it??? Or maybe their crazily priced shoes which will only fit her for 3 weeks, or her massive pink bedroom with crystal chandeliers and excessively large stuffed toys…or maybe the educational music she falls to sleep to, or tries to….everynight…..you’d swear that would make her a ‘better’ child….wouldn’t you?
Funny thing is we’re animals.
I kind of am leaning towards the notion that the closer we are to nature and natural things the better off we are. The more grounded. Level headed. We lose sight of the things important to being ‘people.’ Well rounded people.
We want to be better, prettier, smarter than everyone else and when we have kids we somehow think we can use them as an extension of ourselves and ‘prove’ we’re worthy because of how ‘great’ our kid is.
This is no competion.
I don’t think we should all go move to the bush, become nudist and vegans…but I think we should scale back on the extravagant stuff. (I’m so bad too, we will get something we KNOW our kids do not NEED and then feel guilty…I just about get the shakes thinking “I’ve just ruined the adult my child could have been by buying that Xbox!”
I get an ill feeling when my kids have sat for any longer than half hour watching the tv…”OK outside time!” YES I love the peace and quiet. YES I love that they are entertained.
BUT NO I do not want them to become unhealthy, overweight, inactive adults. I’d like to inspire them to use their imaginations, inspire them to think of new and fun games that don’t require specifically bought toys.
I’d like them to go outside and be ACTIVE without having to play things like ACTIVE games on a game console…seriously…where is the sense?….
I wish sometimes parents could be as slack as me…..dirty pants are OK. Breathe in and out. You have a washing machine?
Grubby faces ARE ok. No one’s ever died from facial germ overload. At least not within an hour.
Torn, tattered ‘old’ clothes? Well all kids should have some ‘play’ clothes. Keep the good stuff for weddings and the likes.
AND TALK…..about sticks and grass, and trees and bird poop…it once was the topic of a lengthy conversation.
RELAX parents…..If your child turns up to a party wearing ‘play’ clothes, running, not afraid to get ‘grubby’ climbing and jumping, being advernturous……not only will you be the envy of the party having the happiest most free child…but you’ll probably make all those other little kiddies cry…you know the ones….the ones who aren’t allowed to play in case they get dirty before the $10,000 birthday cake.
(The other parents will be distracted and no one will notice your ‘neglected’ child.)
BUT after saying ALL of that….what would I know about raising children and what they want?
It’s not like I ever was one.
~P.s I know so many beautiful mums with the most wonderful children! And not all of them think like I do, or do the things I do. They inspire me! THEY should be writing blogs and sharing their ideas on parenting too!~