July 23, 2009

Lazy, Hazy or Crazy, Dazy?

A random comment with another writer friend inspired today's post.

Gone are the days of "nothing to do". Today's parent strives to provide every opportunity for their child. No child is denied the chance to participate in anything that strikes their fancy. I don't even consider my children particularly busy, but their activities do demand a great deal of their time.

The younger one is on a softball team. That starts in April and goes through the end of June. There were usually 3 games a week. With only 11 girls on the team, missing a game needed a good excuse. Missing more than a game was a ticket to warming the bench. So we didn't miss.

My older one is in the marching band and on the cross country team. We were informed that the 4th of July parade counted toward their grade. We also were informed that band camp begins August 1st and that it is mandatory. Cross country training began in late June, but is not mandatory until August 1st also. The band director and cross country coach have coordinated the practice schedules so she will have a half hour between the two. I have pages of colored calendars and websites to cross reference. There are days I think I need a spreadsheet to keep track of where children need to be and when. One day, I logged 70 miles on my car and never went more than 5 miles from my house.

I contrast this with my own childhood. We lived on a small farm. We had our chores, naturally. We had animals to feed in the morning and the gardens to weed or pick sometime during the day. But I remember the afternoons spent lying underneath a willow tree by the creek, making daisy chains. I remember the kick ball games that all the kids who were close enough to ride their bikes would meet at our house. I remember mud pies and fishing poles.

What I don't remember is a shuttle service, an activity driven summer of running from one activity to the next. I don't remember wishing for a day off. I don't remember having to get to bed early because I had to get up for practice the next morning. We would run around catching fireflies, playing flashlight tag, and telling ghost stories.

I wonder when we became afraid of unstructured days and nights. I wonder when we became afraid of having down time. I wonder when it went out of vogue to give your children the luxury of free time. But mostly... I wonder, why it is considered a luxury?

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