Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Growing Up is Hard to Do

When I was young, my mom constantly reminded me not to try to grow up fast. "You only get to be a kid once," she'd say. Typically, that was in reference to us wanting to, say, wear makeup. Her point was that there's plenty of time to be "older," but there's only a short time when you get to be a kid.

I think many parents today have a similar idea, but they take it to an extreme. Rather than encourage their kids to enjoy childhood, they seem to force them to stay babies. It's important to me that I enjoy all of Oliver's stages. Sometimes, I get a little wistful that he's such a big boy (learning to walk and talk), but I'm also excited for him and look forward to bringing him to the park and MOMS Club in the summer, when he can actually run around with the other kids.

A couple of months ago, I was at the grocery store, and there was a boy who had to be twelve years old sitting in the baby seat of his parents' cart. He was getting close to puberty and sitting in the baby seat of his parents' cart. The baby seat. I casually observed the kid to see if he seemed to be physically challenged or something. He moved his legs and talked to his parents and seemed otherwise normal. It was asinine. I see kids who are 4, 5 and 6 riding in the cart in places like Target, and I think their parents must be flipping crazy. They're kids, they have energy, and they need to walk. Still, I keep my mouth shut. The 12 year old almost got me to speak up, though (don't worry; I held my tongue).

Of course, if your child is, say, four years old, and you're spending all day walking at a place like Elitch's or Disney World, then, sure, let your kid ride in a stroller if they really need it. I think that age is the limit, though. If your child is older than four and isn't suffering from an injury or disability that keeps them from walking, then that child needs to walk. In my opinion, of course.

As a parent, I think it's my responsibility to slowly teach my child how to be independent. Early, it starts with things like encouraging him to crawl, stand, walk and speak. They learn consequences, rewards and punishment. Soon comes the potty and teaching early basics like drawing on paper, the alphabet, and easy numbers. They learn rules to games, how to interact with other kids, and how to be polite. When they're in school, they learn to take standardized tests. If they don't do their homework and don't do well on tests, they learn they get poor grades. They learn to study and write papers. You teach them how to shop and cook. As they get older, they learn to care for other kids and start baby-sitting. Soon, they have adult responsibilities like driving and jobs. Then, they have to learn how to balance a checkbook, apply for scholarships, and gather materials for college applications. Then, you have to say goodbye. They're adults, and they're on their way. They're 18, they're studying to get a career, meeting future spouses, and planning their own families. You have eighteen short years with your kids at home to teach them how to behave like adults and succeed in the world. If you spend the first 6 years of their life treating them like a baby and then send them off to school, what the heck is going to happen to them? Is it up to the teachers to teach them how to act in addition to teaching them physical science, multiplication, and history?

Honestly, I won't want all parents to be just like me. I know I tend to go to some extremes, and a lot of parents are against things like early potty training. That's fine. As parents, we need to do what we think is best. However, sometimes I think parents don't always think about the repercussions of what they teach (or fail to teach) their children.

I'm sorry, but I'm not about to be the parent that has their child wait until he's four to sit on a potty and pee, pushed around in a stroller until he's 7 or the parent that shows up at the school of their 12 year old fighting for them to get a better grade, even if he didn't do the homework or do well on the tests. I'm going to love my child and guide him into independence so he can stand on his own to feet, and so I can feel confident that he's going to succeed when he's able to leave me in less than 17 years.

Oliver's over 6% of the way the adulthood. Chew on that fact and remember that you should encourage your kid to be a kid--get dirty, play sports, climb trees--and keep them away from advertisements that teach them to be sexy, wear inappropriate clothes, and use drugs. However, that doesn't mean you should keep your kid from growing up.

Wwwwooooossshhhh. I feel better after ranting!


Kelly Goh said...

Hi,I have a daughter just about 15months and was thinking to start her potty taining too :)
do visit my blog sometime.

whirledpeas1129 said...

Good luck! Oliver's been doing well and uses the potty about half the time I put him on it (I put him on there 4 times a day). I try to make a "PSSSSST" sound when he goes (that's what I heard from my friends who did this method). He's supposed to learn the association that way. I don't think that's working yet, but I hope it will start to. I saved your blog to my favorites and look forward to reading your stories & tips, too!