Bunmi Laditan wrote an article today for Huffington Post called “I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical”, which at first I agreed with. Then I got to thinking about it and realized that although I had adventures in my childhood and a great deal of imagination, I also have absolutely no memories of my Mother in any of them.
I realized I would have taken my Mom over the adventures any day.
It wasn’t that my Mother didn’t want to be there, on the contrary if she had the opportunity she would have been a mom like me. She would have baked with us, read to us, crafted and had adventures with us if it weren’t for having to slave away at a job just to make sure we had groceries. I’m also sure she would have rather us have created safe adventures with her than the ones we made up with our imaginations.
- Dissecting Frogs with butter knives from the kitchen.
- Zip-lining from 4 stories using sticks we found on the ground after breaking into a military camp.
- Shooting each other with BB Guns during games of war with other kids in an open field.
- Selling Mud Pies through our parents basement windows like a fast food restaurant (while standing on her bed).
- Figuring out the big deal with smoking while hiding out in the woods alone at 6am.
- Running from a bull that accidentally busted through a fence because we decided to play chicken with it.
- Peeking under old pieces of left out wood in fields to find snakes.
- Playing hide-and-seek from white vans.
At a time when parents are completely disconnecting from their children and becoming more absorbed into their smartphones and tablets, when children grow up glued to one screen or another and we take them outside like dogs who need to go for a walk every so often – I don’t agree with the idea that we shouldn’t be more hands on.
In fact, I feel it is important for parents to be more hands on with their children in regards to crafts to educational fun. I do crafts with my youngest and am one of those people who help put up the crafts on Pinterest in order for other parents to find fun things to do, because it isn’t just about making memories it is also about learning. Children develop better motor skills using scissors and writing/coloring as well as begin to understand order and sequencing. There is a lot to spending time with your children with these activities than ‘creating their childhoods’. We aren’t just entertainers, we’re also our children’s first educators. With the rate of children growing up with developmental disabilities, it is more important than ever to help them grow.
And even though it stings a little, I’ll tell you. My oldest son (who is 16) grew up without me there because I was young, single and worked full time. On my time off I figured he was entertaining himself (he loved video games) so I did things I wanted or needed to do. We did things together, but more like it was when I was a child and mostly he grew up figuring out life on his own terms. Now take my youngest who grew up later in my life when I became a Stay-at-Home mom. I’m here constantly, we’re always doing crazy things like building forts and making elaborate crazy towns in our living room. My teen told me one day that he wished he had me now as his mom then. That he wished I could have done all those things with him too.
No one in their right mind thinks that trying to best out other parents is important, or having the most expensive elaborate birthdays are important, but we do think that having fun with our kids is. That the look on their faces when they have a great birthday and all their friends are there, is worth it right now even if they don’t remember later on in life. That being thankful for having friends be there, especially when there are a lot of kids that don’t have any, is worth a little something special at the end of the party.
My mom was one of those women from the before generations. She struggled to make ends meet and couldn’t be there. Outside of our imaginations that made the world a magical place, my parents fought for us to survive when we didn’t have food, to keep us warm when we didn’t have beds, to keep us dreaming so we wouldn’t wake up to the reality of how bad life really was.
We remember our lives being magical, we just don’t remember them being a part of it. They existed in another world, a harder more cruel world, that we weren’t a part of. And I know had they been able to choose, they would have rather existed in ours.
I’m thankful every day that I am a part of my children’s world and that I had been given the opportunity to have that choice because my parents gave up theirs.
Just something to think about.