I've decided to start a series of articles that I've been thinking about for a few years now. My "Dear Son" series actually began over on Rebel Magazine with my first piece, Dear Son: Manhood Looms. I hope to convey some of the thoughts, love and advice I have for my son in these pieces. I hope that someday he'll actually be able to read these and glean some sense of who I was, who he became and the love I have for him.
I love you with all my heart, but I feel like you're missing out on a key component of your childhood and I'm pretty sure it's not your fault. I think it's my fault, actually. I feel like you're not able to just play like my generation did and it makes me sad.
I don't think kids are allowed to be kids any more, but and it's my job to change that.
Playing Outside, Back in the Day...
I remember running around outside all over the neighborhood as a child; nothing could stop us with the possible exception of dinner. I'd wake up in the morning, strap my shoes on and head out. I could (and did) run for hours, outside playing cops 'n robbers, tag, 'war' with my friends and riding bikes. There wasn't a square inch of my neighborhood that I hadn't set foot on - just ask my neighbor about his garden. Kids were kids back then because we were allowed to be.
Are Parents' Standards for Kids Too High?
I get that competition is increasing. Kids more than ever need the education to be able to compete in a global marketplace. We, as parents, need to equip you with the skills - especially in math and science - you need to succeed once you're not kids any more.
But isn't there a fine line? Isn't too much emphasis on getting good grades and perfect attendance and high scores on the FCAT test somewhat arbitrary? Don't we want you, our kids, to be healthy, educated AND happy? I see too much emphasis placed on arbitrary standards these days and I feel like it's damaging to our children. We're raising a generation of perfectionists that are doomed to failure; at least failure by their (perfect) standard.
Find Your Kid Balance
It's my job to try to encourage you to find balance in your life. You're turning six and thirteen years old this year and you're well on your way to becoming an adult. Quite frankly, that scares the shit out of me. In only five more years you'll be considered an adult with adult rights and adult responsibilities.
What are you going to do if you never got a chance to be a kid, though? Will you be the well-rounded person I know you can be if you were never allowed to let loose, play games, get dirty, fall down and pick yourself back up? It's up to me to encourage you to do those things that all kids should experience while they have the chance to.
While I still want you to succeed in school, I want you to succeed outside of academics as well. So what do you say, son - do you want to go outside and play with me?