I am writing this from off the top of my aging cranium.
No proofreading. No editing. No final draft. I am not perfect and neither are you so stop faking it. Admit your frailties, mistakes and failures. More importantly learn from them and teach your kids to do the same. Perfect does not exist so stop trying to get your kids to be perfect.
We have ruined a generation of kids who grew up being enabled and coddled thinking and believing they are actually as good as we have been artificially telling they are foe decades. Everything they did was a “win” with Good Job, Good Job, Good Job echoing in their mind, body and soul.
You don’t learn from winning. You learn from losing, making mistakes and “failure” which is why it is called learning. Every kid does not have to make the team, be given (not earned a trophy with goodie bags, pasta parties, uniforms, team pictures and pods of grown-ups yelling, cheering, hollering, screaming, cursing, badgering, harassing and embarrassing the kids especially their own.
I took our son to the championship basketball game in the town’s recreation program. Our team were spectators, however a few of his friends were playing in the championship game. His friends team lost. I was standing with the one of our son’s friends father the entire game. When the game was over this father yelled across the gym,”hey Joey, hurry up, lets go, we have to get to grandma and grandpas house. His son replied back, “okay dad but first I have to get my trophy”. The Dad went orbital and yelled back, “trophy, what trophy, you lost you don’t get a trophy for losing. About 60-70 other parents were in attendance and were in awe of this fathers response. Most were astonished but those same folks nodded their heads in agreement and approval. In fact, the school gym in which this championship game was played had its own school team with 32 kids on the team with only 7-9 who played. Nobody got cut from the team. They all got uniforms and could say they made the team. What have done to a generation of kids.
I will tell you.
Those same kids go off to college unprepared to face the stress, anxiety frustration and eventual achieving less that the A’ and B’s “earned in school. Blend this with being away from home, constantly being asked by parents if they are getting good grades and enjoying the college experience and the recipe for let down, emotional, physical, biological, psychological and the social life of drinking and drugs and the result is an unprepared kid not ready to meet the rejection world that awaits, in debt, confused and having to live with failure in their minds. What have we done to our kids.
Go back to that same middle school of the championship game. A friend did some substitute teaching at the school. I was that everyday between 8 and 9 AM more than half the school lines up at the nurses office to receive their prescribe medications for ADD/HD, aniety, depression, mood stabilizers and who knows what else (thank you confidentiality) that burden the kids progress in school and well beyond the classroom.
PLAY is absent from kids lives. We have taken PLAY from our kids for many excuses and no reasons. Reasons define success while excuses explain failure. Kids just don’t know how to learn about which I could write volumes but will summarize by providing an example, which, as you have read in my previous BLOG Posts, is the best explanation, of something I did with our son and kids in our town. I am not tooting my own horn, seeking affirmation or anything else. I am just providing proof of what works for kids by letting them be kids empowering them by teaching them life lessons through play and, hopefully work, as well. There is no limit of thy good one can as long as they care not about getting the credit.
Here’s one of my stories: Kids and Play!!!
When our son was in summer day camp I would pick him up around noon. At home we would eat lunch and he would relax until 2 PM when he and I would ride bikes, swim or attempt to fish at the mud hole. This got old real fast and I knew I had to do something. I went back to days of youth. My wife and I got on the telephone and sent e-mails to the families of the kids from day camp who I knew were in town and probably struggling with the same boredom as my son and I. Our message was simple: Pick-up baseball at the park. Bring your glove, bat and water. The first day nine kids showed up and I did infield and batting practice with them. By the third day 26 kids showed up ranging in age from third to ninth grade. I appointed two kids as managers/captains. They had to choose teams fairly, make the batting order and assign field positions which were to be changed every inning or two so that each kid had the chance to play as many positions as desired. I did the pitching to keep the game moving. Kids came on foot, by bike, on scooters, and by car. Parents could stay or they could do whatever they had or wanted to do. I scheduled the game to go from 2-4 PM when parents would arrive to take their kids home. No one wanted to be first to take their kid home and many were the times that we played until 6 PM when I would take the initiative by shutting things down. The kids went home tired, hungry and ready for tomorrow. Often I would get calls at home from kids and parents wanting to know if the game was on for tomorrow. This is what kids should be doing. Playing without the yelling, screaming, hollering, structure, trophies, pictures and goodie bags. The kids were outdoors where they belong having fun, resolving their own issues, learning about life and just having fun at play. On the weekends if there was a game I let other Dads, who were busy during the week, get involved and be part of the action as I sat back and watched. At first they wanted to do everything but soon learned and were encouraged by me to back away and let the kids be kids. All those kids are now in college or working and when they around and we meet their first remarks are about the great time and fun they had playing “Pick-Up” baseball at the park.
Life Lessons Learned: Organization, Sharing, Conflict Resolution (out- safe, out safe, you guys work it out), Promptness, Leadership, Management, Teamwork, Thinking, Listening, Discipline, Structure, Rules, Consequences, Behaviors, Anger, Frustration, Patience, Socialization, Culture, Diversity, Inclusion, Age Differences, CONFIDENCE and all the other things parents send their kids to head jockeys to get a prescription and learn coping skills when all they have to do is PLAY. Recess at school is a good place to start where kids can yell, scream, holler, jump, kick a ball, climb, slide and get dirty which is okay. They are kids. Stop trying to mess with their ages. Let kids be kids and they will be great adults doing the same things for their kids and so on and so on just like multi-level marketing and that shampoo commercial from 50 years ago.
Go out and play even if it is cold, damp and rainy. Mud and dirt are good, clean, healthy and fun. It is like sweating. It shows you have done something productive, healthy and FUN which is what PLAY is all about.
Go home, shower, warm-up with a cup of hot chocolate wand marshmallows and relax with your kids. Put the electronics away as well if just for an hour or two.
POWER UP YOUR POWER ‘CAUSE THE POWER IS IN YOU!!!
Keep It Simple – Keep It Real!!!