Let Them Be Little

Poor Connor. He is possibly the most infamous little fellow in grade school because almost everyone has heard his mom’s frustrated voice as she speaks into her smart-phone, summoning iPhone’s version of the Shell Answer Man and she asks:  Why is Connor having trouble focusing in school? The question appears to bamboozle Siri who answers:  Having trouble finding Connor’s middle school? The mini-drama goes on for sixty seconds in the video, less in the radio spot.

Yes, it’s part of an ad campaign. Yes, if you follow the link to understood.org, you’ll find a website offering helpful resources and encouragement for parents trying to address the perceived learning disabilities of their offspring. And maybe, I’ll even cede, consulting Siri as a primary resource for professional advice is a clever tongue-in-cheek approach to the issue.

Nevertheless, hearing this radio spot, my initial amusement gave way to irritation. No, I’m not a credentialed expert in child psychology or a related field, but having raised four children (two of whom are boys) and having enjoyed the pleasures of grandchildren (for more than two decades), I’ve gained a wealth of experience and understanding through the years.

I feel sorry for children today! Their lives are scheduled from the time they’re old enough to enter nursery school … and some before that! Many of them rise at the crack of dawn in order to be shuffled off to sitters or child-care, and they don’t arrive back at home until late in the evening, some having been fed a hasty meal in the car on the way home.children_at_play

They’re subjected to music lessons, various sports and athletic activities, playtime at the park and educationally-focused field trips, language instruction, scouting, and a plethora of other regularly-scheduled enterprises. (Are you worn out yet?) No doubt, each of these activities has value and gives parents the assurance they’ve done all within their power to ensure their children are well-rounded and fully educated.

But when does a child have time to relax and reflect, to sit on a swing or lie in the grass and watch the clouds go by, to lounge by the creek and play with crawdads? When does a child have time just to be a kid?

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned how little girls dream of being Cinderella. A friend commented how little boys want to be cowboys and race-car drivers and firemen. I would add, they also think about being Superman. Even children of highly-accomplished parents remain mostly unimpressed about their parents’ achievements. Their parents may already have their names wait-listed for trendy and elite prep schools, but this means almost nothing to children who are trying – oh, so hard – to live up to parental expectations to smoothly master the basics (post here).

children playingLest anyone suppose I’m making light of the understood.org offer of assistance, I acknowledge the value of an objective voice and sound counsel. But children are unpredictable, their learning styles and timetables vary from child to child, and simply put, parents sometime worry too much! Many years ago, a pediatrician assured me lots of childhood issues resolve over time … instead of worrying, parents need to lighten up and relax. I learned over time how right he was!

I have a song in my iTunes collection by an Arkansas musician named Amy Christelle (Brown). It’s from her 2011 album titled Barefoot Floors to Blue Skies. The song is Let Them Be Little. The song has been recorded by a number of other artists and is available on Amazon. The lyrics express the importance of letting children enjoy their childhood … and how quickly time flies before they’re suddenly grown up!

Today’s poem is an open letter to Connor … and all the boys like him … maybe even the parents who find they’re worrying (borrowing trouble is what I used to call it) needlessly about issues that will probably resolve in time. Love that child, treasure the moments you have while they’re little … because I know from experience it’s gone too soon.

Dear Connor, verse, poem, poetry

4 thoughts on “Let Them Be Little

  1. Another amen coming your way! My nannied kids are growing up with very little free time. I run them all over the place after school nearly every day, and then they have competitions and ballgames most weekends. They don’t know what to do when there’s a short break in activity other than play games on their phones. Wears me out! And their concentration spans and creativity suffers.

    1. So true, Debbie. Also, they get “bored” at the drop of a hat and don’t know how to create their own play! What a mess!

  2. Oh, amen! I feel bad for kids these days, too. Their lives are so structured, so coddled and micromanaged. In the olden days we used to call the desirable form of parenting,” benign neglect.” There is wisdom in just letting kids be kids.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I think it’s interesting too that kids seem less capable today at being launched into independence! It’s like all the helicopter parenting has made them more dependent than ever. Hear, hear, for “benign neglect.” The parents of yesterday would probably be thrown in jail for “child abuse.”

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