I was one of the last of the Baby Boomers. Born in 1960, I have survived -
- Missile drills (like a desk was going to protect you from a Russian bomb, right?)
- Having my mouth washed out with soap (repeatedly)
- Riding withoutÂ seat-beltsÂ or car seats – in fact standing up and holding on to the front seat so I could see better
- Riding a bike without a helmet
- Riding a bike down a hill with no hands
- Wearing roller skates being â€œtowedâ€ behind a bike
- Climbing trees
- Ice skating on ponds
- Skating without knee and elbow pads
- Being told I was wrong
- Losing at a game
- Getting a failing grade
There are many more, but these are the things that come immediately to mind. Reading this list I see a normal childhood, experiences that I thought everyone had.
There are rules for childhood now. Seatbelts are important and so are car seats. I am not arguing about that at all, although I personally do not think the government has a right to mandate what I can and cannot do in my own car â€“ that is a rant for another day. I get that bike helmets save lives every year. Really, I get the concept.
The reality is what I donâ€™t get. Hereâ€™s the thing. Children now days seem to me to be so protected from physical and emotional damage that they are raised in ivory towers and then at age 18 they are released into a harsh world with lots of opportunities to be hurt.
Skinned knees were part of life. I probably had a scabbed elbow and a scabbed knee until I was 12. You skated, you fell, you skinned your knee, and you learned to be more careful or to improve your technique.
My mom did not worry too much about the effects of spanking on my psyche, nor did she concern herself that having Ivory soap in my mouth might shorten my life span in the future. Certain activities had certain consequences and you learned to accept them and try to behave better in the future, or at least be more careful about being caught.
When we played kickball, or any other competitive game, one team won and one team lost. If it was at school there might be ribbons or treats for the winning team while the losing team trudged off the field.
It was accepted that sometimes you won and sometimes you lost. Competition was considered normal, as it has been in all cultures throughout history. Now I hear of games where there are no winners or losersâ€¦ everyone gets ribbons. I have to wonder, what is the point?
I homeschool my kids and I donâ€™t believe in grades per se. I know whether they have a grasp of the concept or not â€“ if they get it, they move on and if they donâ€™t, they work at it until they get it. In a conventional school system, a teacher has too many students to keep up like that and so grades are a necessary measurement of what a student has mastered.
When I hear parents getting angry at teachers because their child didnâ€™t make the honor roll I have to laugh. When that child grows up and gets a job, his supervisor will explain the details of his job to him and he will be expected to master the concepts pretty quickly. If not, you can be sure he wonâ€™t have the job long.
I meet young people once in a while who have lost their jobs and blame their boss for it. Immediately I think of those kids whose parents blame the teacher for their failures.
Protecting kids so much that their expectations of the real world are unrealistic is, in my opinion, a form of abuse. It is hard enough to survive in society the way it is without having the added handicap of unrealistic expectations of how you will be treated.
Pain, whether from skinning a knee, failing a test, or losing a monopoly game, teaches us to do better, try harder, and fight until we succeed. This determination seems to be sadly lacking in many of the much protected generation of children growing up today.
Do you agree or disagree?
photo credit: meigooni