Children No More?

I’ve been wondering lately, why we seem to be in such a hurry to make kids grow up. What got me thinking was a ‘sneak preview’ I saw of an upcoming show, Kid Nation. I can’t really say why but the whole concept aggravated me to no end. I kept carping at the television, as though it would listen to me and just stop it.

The basic idea of this show is to take a bunch of kids aged from 8 to 15, put them in a ghost town and see if they can create a community. I suppose on the face of it, it sounds kind of cool and innovative and all that stuff that television execs get worked up about. But to me, it sounds a little sad. Kids are supposed to be kids. This is their time to learn, have fun, have adventures, be care-free and just live – hopefully fully employing their amazing imaginations and creating some precious memories for when they are old farts like the rest of us.

Instead, we give them sex education (Obama thinks age 5 is about the right time for this), teach them about sexual orientation (Why Joey has two mommies), give them more homework than I ever had in high school, cell phones, their own phones, their own televisions, social security numbers, bank accounts, debit cards, designer clothes, start them in school before they can speak, pay big bucks to get them into the right preschool or in some cases pre-preschool, chauffer them everywhere they go, cervical vaccinations as early as age 9, $120 sneakers, highlights and manicures.

They have play dates instead of running through the neighborhood gathering up their pals for a romp at the old railroad station. They have nannies instead of babysitters. Are taught security codes for their homes. Can text message and surf the net like pros, but can’t seem to think. They are ensconsed in electronic paraphanelia, plugged in, zoned out, on antidepressants, have disorders that take up page upon page of the PDR are vast consumers of internet porn and worst of all, cynical.

Have you watched a sitcom lately? Have you noticed that the kids, regardless of age, are always played as all knowing, world-weary, cynical punsters. Mom and Dad clearly can’t teach them anything because they know it all. And apparently must educate their parents in the ways of the world because they are clueless.

Now, when I was a kid, I know we all pretended that our parents were clueless and truly didn’t understand how things really were. Yet, whenever something bad happened, whenever life kicked us in the teeth, whenever something scared the bageebers out of us, we made a beeline to Mom and Pop. They may have been un-hip, squares, not with it, uninformed on pop culture, but they knew stuff. They knew life. They had graduated from the school of hard knocks and they were there for a reason. We all knew this in our hearts.

Today’s kids? I’m not so sure. I look around and it’s not kids I see, but very short adults running around in their power suits, dragging their laptops, drinking their lattes and smoking their cigarettes. Ordering their parents about, who seem to go whichever way they are commanded. They smirk, the deride, they disrespect and snicker.

And I’m not mad so much as sympathetic. I mourn the loss of their innocence. I mourn the loss of their carefree, clueless days. I mourn the loss wild imaginings. Not for me, because I had them. But for them – those in such a hurry to grow up and the parents who are pushing them along.

WC

16 thoughts on “Children No More?

  1. I really want to agree with you but the moment I do then I sound like my parents talking when I was a kid.. Was there every really any innocence for children or was it a lull in the storm for fifty years?

    In the 18th century it was normal for children to go to work and my own grandparents talked of no education and working at the age of 12 out of family financial hardship.

    Yes you are right, there was in innocence in yesterday that is lost in today but perhaps it will always be that way.

    Childhood in the end is what the parents pass down regardless of what society says or permits. Everything stems from that – behaviour, respect and knowledge.

    Good parenting can never be underrated.

    Hey Paul,
    I know you want to agree with me, I can feel your aura screaming out in the metaphysical hallway outside my metaphysical office. That being said, I was waiting for someone to bring up the old argrument of children working in the ancient times because the family needed the money, etc. etc. Heck, I worked when I was a kid, I was very industrious – had my own car washing, dog walking, babysitting, leaf raking business by the time I was 9 and made a nice chunk of change. I waited to get a real job until I was 13 I think. But I did these things of my origination, not because my parents were trying to make me grow up too fast – and to be honest, I haven’t completely grown up still, but that’s another post.

    Yes, it’s true that once upon a time a child worked in the sweatshops and earned extra pennies for the family, and so on, but really those days are over here and frankly most westerners are appalled at those types of conditions anywhere in the world despite the fact that they exist. Again, wasn’t really the topic.

    My point was not whether or not children some times under certain conditions do mature and responsible things but whether adults were essentially sqeezing our of existence what little is left of childhood. And honestly, I think it has more to do with moral equivalency than anything else. But that’s me.

    Wc

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  2. Don’t get me started. As a former teacher, and as a parent, I have so many opinions on this subject that to start on this comment form would be to monopolize your available page space and leave nothing for anyone else.

    Maybe I’ll do a post on it. Because my soapbox on this one is just that big.

    Hey Jess,
    Sure, do a post on it. Though it’s okay with me if you drag your soapbox over here too. I had a feeling we’d be on the same page with this thing though. 😉
    WC

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  3. Wait a minute now. Thinking back on when I was a kid – back in the olden days – we went to visit an old ghost town and I remember very clearly thinking how much fun it would be to live there and have my own town with my own stuff to do – doesn’t it sound like it woulda been fun for you too?

    Yeah, I was a serious kid (read alot) but I loved to have adventures too – exactly like that would be I’m thinking.

    What say ye?

    Peace and ghost towns.

    ~ RS ~

    Hey Roobs,
    Oh sure we all had fantasies like that and if it were our idea maybe it wouldn’t bug me so much. But to turn this sort of thing into a reality tv show and exploit young children for the sake of entertainment goes a bit beyond the pale for me.

    Love
    Annie

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  4. I agree with you, MsChickie. Kids should be kids. They grow up too damn fast anyhow.

    Hey Red,
    I guess I’m an old fart but I ‘m thinking that a six year old should not be concerned with how her butt looks in jeans. Call me crazy. 😉
    WC

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  5. i’m with Jess on this. i wouldn’t know where to begin or end with this. But i like what you’ve said, Chica.

    i’ve tried so hard to shelter my kids because they have their whole lives to be ‘adult’ about things. i want so much for them to be strong in themselves before the world outside tries to homogenize their spirits, hammer them into place, cultivate their competetiveness. i want them to feel free and do their best to be THEIR best just because that’s what they do!

    i will mention how disheartening it is to see pre-teens donning mid-driff shirts and trying to be “sexy”. It hurt me to my soul when my seven year-old asked me why boys call their penises ‘weiners’. As far as sex ed, i talk to my girls when they ask questions. When Reneé was 4, she asked about babies because i was preggers with Caitlyn. i’m pretty open and keep it honest but appropriate.

    Hey Christine,
    I love when you said: want so much for them to be strong in themselves before the world outside tries to homogenize their spirits, hammer them into place, cultivate their competetiveness. Exactly! maybe that’s what I was trying to say in the first place.

    You’re a good mom, they know it.

    WC

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  6. which is why my son doesn’t have a cell phone which means he has to call me from his friends’ cell phones (why does a kid need a cell phone?) and he couldn’t care less about his computer ~ um, well, that’s more because he is rebeling and declaring all things technoid uncool ~ anything to avoid the geekdom of his parents which means he is more often than not found shooting hoops behind the garage or skipping through the neighbourhood on his skateboard rounding up his friends and oh my goodness ~ i am such a bad parent ’cause i made him go out and find his own friends and never did the playdate thing …

    but he is a cynic anyway ‘course he’s 13 and we were all cynics at 13 😉

    i hope i have taught him to be true to himself and not have to hurry up and be someone else … and happy i convinced him not to get a job this summer so he could enjoy hanging out with his friends and doing nothing because how often do we get to do that in life? though that meant that when he managed to break my kitchen window on the weekend because his soccer ball got out of control ~ he has to work it off by mowing the lawn and raking leaves …

    Hey D,
    Yeah, at 13 I think we are all cynics – goes with the territory. I’m sure you have convinced him to be himself and no one else. How could he not with a mom like you?
    WC

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  7. There are so many good comments on this and the thing is my opinion is expressed in nearly all of them! And now that I’m going to be a mom, I feel just as strongly about it as before.

    I don’t think childhood is all innocence and butterflies. There’s the first time you REALLY like someone with cooties and they call you a name (I, personally, was pretty heartbroken over this one). There’s the problems when the dynamics with your friends change because the new kid from two towns away is seemingly “cooler” than you and they want to hang out with the new kid more (I remember ditching this group of friends in second grade due to the drama).

    But you know what? These are life experiences that a kid is supposed to have. Socialization, standing up for oneself, learning to make your way. But trying to be sexy because puberty just hit? Or talking back to your mother because she just doesn’t know? (I would’ve been smacked on the ass for that!) No. There’s enough drama and learning in childhood and I hope that as a parent I can nurture my child to learn at his/her pace and to protect him/her from the things that are just not age-appropriate.

    Here’s to hoping.

    Hey MS,
    I don’t think childhood is all innocence and butterflies either – but early childhood certainly is and ought to be. I’m sure you will do well with your child – especially since you’ve resolved to try to leave out the drama. And yes, age appropriate does seem very key.

    WC

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  8. Hi WC,
    I’ve nearly brought up 7 kids – the nearly being I’ve got one left, only half way through – and I’ve tried so hard to teach them about life, but still allow them to be kids. And in many ways it’s proved impossible. The outside world – media, peer pressure – is always a far more welcome influence to them.
    But one thing I’ve always insisted upon is to allow them to get bored. This, more than anything else, is what is missing today. For it was boredom that drove kids of my generation to create the fantasies that make childhood so magical.
    Today, boredom is seen, by the parent, as a failure. But it is what allows the child to create a child’s world, forcing ideas into their imagination, instead of a standardised view of what children are supposed to be.

    Anthony,
    What a brilliant point and strategy. I believe you may have hit on the key issue here.
    wC

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  9. If this is okay, i’d like to say that Anthony North makes an excellent point.

    We’ve never been big tv watchers, but we do allow our children some veiwing time. Anyway, when they come to us about being bored, i ask them what they want to do about it. They read, Reneé writes poems and draws, Caity pull weeds in the garden or they go outside and play. Sometimes, they just sit out back and look at the clouds.

    Anyway, i just really liked that, Anthony and i’m glad that you brought it up. i think quiet time alone, and together as families, is vital to the well-being of children.

    Of course it’s okay and I agree, he makes a perfect point.
    WC

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  10. What’s sad is that we didn’t have any of this stuff and we still had sagas, dramas, conflict, etc. even though things were simple (it seems now) back then. It makes you wonder how kids today taking on grown up personas at such at a young age even stand a chance…hand the prozac over early I guess.
    It’s scary really. It really is.

    Hey Kim,
    Oh, I hope they don’t hand over the Prozac – in my opinion that just makes things worse. Hopefully, there are or will be a few who reject the exploitation and objectifying and will fight back by being free thinkers and have things on their own terms.
    WC

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  11. I agree. Kill all children. That way we can start fresh with a new generation, reminiscent of the kids from “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

    LOL DT. You’re such a sick puppy. One of the reasons I love you so. 😉
    WC

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  12. well i think the whole idea is a warped one about that show anyway, i mean, there ARE adults there. the camera people and the script writers. i don’t think the show will last,but what do i know? i still think the children of the corn did pretty good in their town though, after they killed all the adults. haha great movie!

    Exactly! Now…if they want to do a reality tv of Children of the Corn, where the whole reality tv industry gets gotten by them, that’s a show I might watch. 😉
    WC

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  13. Okay, after hearing your response:

    “But to turn this sort of thing into a reality tv show and exploit young children for the sake of entertainment goes a bit beyond the pale for me.”

    You’ve swayed my thinking. Thanks for another perspective.

    Peace and perspectives.

    ~ RS ~

    Hey Roobs,
    You’re welcome, I guess. I really wasn’t trying to change your mind – everybody has their own take on things. I guess I just get annoyed with how people treat one another. It really does seem like people mostly care about themselves these days – it’s sad really.
    WC

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  14. WC, did you actually watch the show? This is the first I’ve heard of it. I’d have to actually watch the show before I comment.

    I honestly do not know anyone personally that is pushing their kid along into adulthood. That’s not to say that I don’t think it happens.

    I’ve seen some pretty disrespectful kids in my day (the ones that make your mouth drop wide OPEN as he/she smacks their mom square in the mouth at the store and mommy says, “Now Bobby, you hit mommy in the face, how do you think that made me feel?” – that kid needs a good old fashioned beating if you ask me *wink*

    Bottom line: It all stems from BAD parenting! There is no discipline which just leaves the child in charge which is ass backwards and wrong on so many levels.

    But most all the parents I hang with or come into contact with are very normal, every day mothers and fathers – just trying to squeek by and do the best they can. If my son or daughter brings home some obnoxious twit for a “friend”, they are not welcome back in my home. I don’t need my kids hanging around with disrespectful, bratty, demanding kids – we don’t have a place for that.

    The cell phones, the designer clothes, the video games, the computers are all fine, but they are not a replacement for parenting. I pitty the fool that let’s their child talk on their cell phone for hours on end, surf the net for 4-5 hours straight, etc. It’s SICK. Just absolutely sick. I don’t think the problem is kids having “too many material things” as much as it is THE PARENTS who decide to look the other way while their child becomes detached from life.

    Just to reassure you Annie, I really do believe that more kids than not are out playing in the neighborhood looking for their next adventure. Unless I live in some bubble. That’s how things are here and we just love it! I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    Hey Bella!
    No, I didn’t watch the show, but I saw a 20 minute segment of it – which did turn me off.

    From your comments it sounds as though you live in the heartland – where people are still normal. Thank Gawd there are some of you left. Maybe I’ve lived in L.A. too long? Could be. 😉
    WC

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  15. Oooh, is it really that different there? I’m definiately in a damn bubble.

    Hey Bella,
    Well, I don’t know if you live in a bubble or if I live in a bubble – but things are very different in L.A. I love it for many reasons but I also hate it for many reasons. The noise, the crowded streets, the traffic, the smog, the crazy people and snotty kids. Then again I love it for the noise, the crowded streets, the always something going on, the lights, the flash, the nuttiness. At best, it’s a mixed bag.

    Though, I think where you are is the place to raise kids. Fresh air, nice neighbors, sanity – that’s all very good for them. It prepares them for when they make their trek to live in the big city. 😉
    WC

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  16. The other day my 10 yr old dd went to her music class and saw a friend of hers from the same class. She came running up to my DD and said, “You will not BELIEVE what happened last week when you were gone! Sydney told us she KISSED A BOY! Isn’t that gross?” To which my DD made a “yuck” face and said, “EWWWWWW…that IS gross!!”
    and I, thanked God profusely for having overheard that exchange…at 10, they are still very innocent and anymore….that’s rare.

    Wow MM,
    That is fantastic, innocence still exists. I love it.
    WC

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