Hickory Dickory Doc
“The essence of childhood, of course, is play, which my friends and I did endlessly on streets that we reluctantly shared with traffic.”
What happened to the innocence of childhood, the freedom to allow your imagination to take over, the carefree days of play? Everyone is always saying how memorable your time of youth is; a time without responsibilities or worries, but childhood is no longer the same as you may remember. Think of that time when you rode your shiny red bike endlessly and colored on everything in sight including the walls, not caring that you knew it was wrong. In today’s world, instead of appreciating the value of creativity and socialism kids form through play, parents over structure and over schedule their time. They commit them to sports and education programs at an extremely early age. Children no longer know what it is like to just have some fun. They are forced to grow up too quickly leaving behind an innocence they will never be able to obtain later in life.
As I have grown up through my years I have realized there is no time quite like my childhood had been, where I was only concerned about what was going on in my head. Then I glance around today, and think to myself, what has happened to the children in our world? Their parents are enrolling them in sports as young as three years old, and education programs to make sure they have the most intelligent child by the time they are old enough to start real school. For me it seemed like school was a big deal, I was a big girl and I could finally ride that yellow bus to school with the other older kids. But when school starts out so early the kids have nothing to look forward too, they are sick of school by the time it finally arrives. Groans escape their mouths even at the thought of twelve more years till graduation, when they should be thinking of the privilege they have to receive any education at all. Not only are children forced to play sports but they are so pressured by their parents to be the victor because no one wants their child to be a loser. Things shouldn’t be this way, winning is not the most important thing in the world. Trying your best at something should be good enough for your parents. Times are changing, and suddenly a child being athletic is more important then them having creativity. Their days are scheduled by hours, never a moment to spare, always one thing after another because their child has to be the best. The activities in one day are just too much and children are trapped in our society.
Parents are structuring their kids to be just like one another. What is wrong with being different, being unique from everyone else? Every parent wants to have the perfect child. But the truth is, no matter how hard you try kids will always just be kids. Children can’t be perfect; they were set out in this world to make mistakes. When you put too much pressure on them, they only do worse. We need to let them be, let them experience life as a child before it’s too late. They don’t deserve to be forced into adulthood just yet.
My best friend, when I was little, was the boy who lived down the street. We would play endlessly day after day not caring that I was a girl while he was a boy. I liked that we were different; it always seemed to make everything more interesting. Now when I look out my window during the warm days of summer I don’t see kids riding around the block or playing tag. I cannot hear laughter coming from the mouths of the carefree young. With so much on their plates, children don’t have the time to simply play outside, breath in the fresh air. Do they even know that little boy or girl who lives down the street from them? Have they ever gone over to their house to play, even once? Parents have taken this privilege away from them for their time is always too occupied with other activities. Kids no longer can just have fun. Their imagination is being drained from them. They can’t have that other world full of secrets and giggle with the kids next door, that time to sit outside on a swing with their Popsicle melting down their hand from the heat of the sun. I believe childhood is being cheated for these kids, its almost as though they have no childhood at all.
The house behind ours is the home to a wonderful family, with a three year old named Julia and a four year old named Alyssa who I baby-sit quite often. Both girls are loving and wonderful kids but sometimes I wonder if their childhood is slipping away from them. The girls are in preschool three days a week, for half a day. This is Alyssa’s second year of school already at only age four. On Mondays they each take part in a ballet class after school, while the oldest takes another full hour of tap class following ballet. Every Saturday they have a soccer game as well, not to mention all the practices throughout the week. I think both girls do more than an average teenager does. When do they get time to relax? Is there any time scheduled for the girls to just pull out their dolls and play house for a little while? I would never want them to miss out on a childhood filled with fun.
Parents are ruining their own children’s childhood, taking away their time of youth. They can’t be different and just enjoy life. Kids are being cheated out of their only worry free time in life, never experiencing what other generations have had the chance to. This time is ruined for them because of the pressure and responsibilities being pushed down their throats at such a young age by parents striving to make the best of their child. Kids need to have their freedom, and decide who they want to be on their own. We cannot steal their childhood from them when they deserve it just as we did. It is time to let youngsters sit back and kick off their shoes, just them let be kids while they still have the chance. Hickory dickory doc, their time is running out.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.