The Zoey Blog: Stop, Drop, and Listen FINAL - COVER UNIVERSE EXPLORERS ORDER

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Stop, Drop, and Listen

I'm getting sooooooo bored to death and half-insulted by the increasingly popular parent shuffle of endless activities and child development opportunities. Sooooo bored senseless. Stop it parents. Stop it. Quit reading magazine articles about the benefits of socializing your children, or how swimming lessons earlier in life make more successful college students. I'm so sick and tired of all the super-parenting. How 'bout we just try to be good parents in the most simple, straightforward sense? We try to be there for our kids. We communicate with them. We love them. We give them the chance to figure some of this $#%t out for themselves.

You know what? Some kids hate the piano. I hated the piano. I don't even wish I knew how to play now. I like music but I don't really give two poops that I don't know how to play. I don't regret learning how to throw a curve ball instead of fingering the frets of a cheap Sears guitar. You know why? 'Cause I can throw a curve ball, really hard, at your face. You can play guitar...awesome. Who cares? Some people can ride big animals at ridiculously high speeds and not fall off. That's not me either, and I don't feel bad about it. The truth is, that for every incredible opportunity that you push your child into to help them develop into something maybe a little different than they already are, means that they're not doing something else. It's pretty simple math.

Organized, structured, incessant activities are great, and so is idle play. You learn a lot doing both, but you can't do both. It's impossible. I believe very strongly in allowing a kid to be a kid. Sure, the busier they are the less opportunity for trouble, but how 'bout we work on teaching them what trouble looks like, how to avoid it, and why they don't really want any part of it, rather than letting a busy schedule keep them from rehab and prison. That's terribly negligent don't you think? It's the equivalent of building a fence to keep your child from wandering into traffic when perhaps you should really just teach your child that wandering into traffic leaves them dead. The fence stops them, the knowledge informs them.

The most annoying bit of this recent trend in doting, overbearing parents, is that those doting, overbearing parents need to tell everyone about how incredible their efforts are, and just exactly why your child needs to be going to a french immersion school instead of enjoying the awesome banalities of public education. They'll also tell you how music lessons will make their child smarter but how building your own raft, one that actually floats even when your fat Dad steps on it, and drifting down the river on this miracle of ten year old engineering won't do a damn thing for your development. Really? How 'bout I learned to use my hands and actually create something, and I also learned that it was a bad idea to drown. I'd venture to say that Junior Achievement has never saved a kid from drowning. They don't have funerals for kids who's grass cutting businesses went tits up, do they? No, they don't. In fact, the best thing that could ever happen to you as a future suit is that your lemonade stand does go bust, but first your parents have to be willing to let you fall flat on your pale and smug little face. Most won't, not in these overprotective times.

Go ahead, sign your kid up for swimming lessons. Swimming lessons are awesome, but as much because you have to change into your bathing suit in front of other people as because they teach you how to not sink. Having something formal and structured to do is good, and being busy can be good, and being around other human beings is good, but to think that you can just pay for your kid's development with music lessons, summer hockey school, and a Montessori education then you're a fool. Be a good parent. Try to be there for your kids. Communicate with them. Love them. Give them the chance to figure $#%t out for themselves, and for God's sake, stop telling me how Zoey's at the perfect age to begin her journey towards becoming tri-lingual. I'm happy if she just learns not to say stupid things. In the end, I'll be just as proud of the raft as I am the report card.

By the way, chess lessons might make your child smarter in the long run, but it'll also make them insufferable. Apple falling close to the tree, etc...etc...

Now Zoey's going yo gymnastics, after which she's going to go waste some time kicking around Grandad and Baachan's backyard, probably touching things she's not supposed to, and potentially falling into a creek. Check mate.


Blogger Beth said...

Could this post be more awesome?

May 7, 2011 at 6:14 PM  
Anonymous Aimee said...

Wow, how come all of a sudden I feel guilty for swimming lessons, t-ball and an upcoming private education for Harmon? I thought I was doing the right thing!

May 9, 2011 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Brian DeWagner said...

Ahahahaha...that's funny because I think that you and Kev do a stellar job of balancing the two ideals! I also think that it's an entirely different game in the US. We observed that when we were in New York for the summer. I think that in a society with ten times the population as Canada, there is an unique need to do many of those things, especially in terms of education. Public education looks remarkably different even with just an imaginary line between our two countries. We don't have to compete for spots at good schools etc...I typed that post mostly in response to people doing some seemingly heavy early language programs, and piano lessons for three year olds. Zo does gymnastics, goes to swimming at the Y and when we were in Brooklyn was attending both a music program and YMCA programs...but there's never more than a couple of things a week. Some of the parents we find ourselves around have five out of seven day schedules for their pre-schoolers. Yikes!

We've been around your kids and whatever you're doing, it's right.

May 9, 2011 at 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Aimee said...

Haha, OK, good. Let's be clear, swimming ends before t-ball begins. Overscheduling is tough on everyone and, as you said, they need to be KIDS. I do want Harmon to take piano lessons but I thought I should probably wait until he was reading. So, he'll probably do that this fall/winter. I always thought, once they get a little older, two activities at a time was good rule of thumb. We'll give that a try.

Also, the swimming, it's more, you know, so he doesn't drown. I can't swim so ...

May 9, 2011 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Brian DeWagner said...

OMG...I'm still laughing at the "Doesn't drown" remark! I like that two activities rule of thumb too, I think. I'm calling it the Bergquist Principle from now. There's a Betzy Rule so I figure you guys need your own too...only yours is a "Principle" not just a rule!

June's oretty down for Zo to take piano lessons too, and swimming is big on the list because June and her siblings were swimmers, and her sister, Netta, coaches a pretty heavy duty group of kids out West, the North Vancouver Zed is swimming, that's for sure. Not sure what else she'll get into. If she stays tall I'll suggest some team sports might not be a bad idea...six foot female figure skaters are kinda off-putting.

May 9, 2011 at 2:24 PM  

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