In Which I Grouse Like An Old Curmudgeon
Anybody read this NY Time article about parents trying to teach their kids to play outside? Here’s the first paragraph:
JOSEPH GALLO, 10, of Santa Cruz, Calif., is well armed in the battle against childhood boredom, with a bedroom arsenal that includes a computer hooked to the Internet, a DVD player, two Game Boys, as well as an Xbox and a GameCube.
That is entertainment insanity. My house has one television and one computer and those numbers are never going to change. Also, I don’t have a lot of absolutes, and my kids will probably hate me for these, but as long as I’m still on this side of the grass, they will never, ever, EVER have a television or a computer in their rooms. Period. Probably not going to be any video games in the house, either. As for the television they do watch, the general rule will be that they can watch a few shows a week, but they have to identify the shows ahead of time. There will be no channel surfing.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think television or the internets or video games are evil. But there’s only so many hours in the day, and it’s just too easy to waste time with those things.
My aversion to “wasted” time doesn’t mean I want my kids to be constantly active, either. I’m not going to be one of these parents who schedules every second of their kids lives: Going to school, doing homework, practicing some sport or musical instrument, going to a play date. What I want them to do is spend their leisure time doing something they really want to do, rather than slouching in front of a monitor eating Cheetos and drinking Cokes.
So what are they going to do? Go outside and figure it out on their own. Here’s where I go into curmudgeon mode. From the time I was in first grade, I roamed freely through my neighborhood and the woods behind it, playing various games with other neighborhood kids. My kids can do the same. No, I’m not afraid that they’ll get kidnapped or injured. I lived through my childhood, filled as it was with bike crashes, unsupervised (i.e. adultless) swims in local streams, climbs up hundred foot trees, pickup games of tackle football that almost always ended in a “pile on”, occasional fist fights, experiments with fireworks, and all kinds of other potential trips to the emergency room. I have no doubt my kids will survive, too. There was nothing special about me and the world has not changed that much in the last two decades.
I understand that because I am an outdoors type this diatribe leaves me open to charges that I’m trying to force my kids to adopt my lifestyle. To that I have to plead guilty. I offer two things in mitigation though. First, I will encourage the outdoors and strictly limit television and the internet because I believe an outdoors life is better than a sedentary couch potato life. It isn’t that I want my kids to be like me; it’s that I want the best for them. Second, I will not try to make my kids cyclists, or runners, or backpackers. What I will try to do is get them to enjoy being outside (or if inside to do something creative or else to read a book). The specifics are up to them. If they want my help, great. If not, I will let them go.Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized