tl;dr: my kids don’t eat veggies, and it’s all my fault because they each have an ipad.
I’m gonna start off on a nostalgic foot here, so strap onyour Doc Marten sandals, chunky, bright-white soled Sketchers, Nike-Airs, Keds, Jellies or Converse All-Stars (or whatever off brand the discount shoe store had on sale that month), and take a walk down Memory Lane with me, don’t worry, we will only circle the block once- twice if we ride our bikes (bonus points if your bike has cards inthe spokes, you can do it no-hands, or you have a rope rigged to the handlebars like a horse).
When I was a child, life was fun. My days were filled with fun, friends, and freedom. I had a few key things that I HAD to do:
- Go To School
- Stay Out of the Way
- Eat My Vegetables: all of them.
That was it. Literally, IT. And sometimes, I think that the most important of those was #3, seriously. Getting out of my parent’s hair was the easiest because that meant I could go play. I don’t remember pestering my parents with 429 question, or begging them to watch them play a video game. Why? Because our parents didn’t allow it, and I had several friends that lived nearby, and as long as I did my chores (dishes, laundry, feed the animals, clean my room… simple things that my children have zero concept of), and I was home for dinner at 6, I could do and go just about anywhere, and there weren’t cellphones to track me through GPS. I’m not even gonna get started on cellphones, but, yeah, that’s trust, or is is neglect? No. Because I had food, water, shelter, and clothing… which brings me to my next point…
Why in the blazes do kids these days NOT FLIPPING EAT? I mean they DO eat, but only if someone else has prepared it for them, or it comes in a colorful, crinkly, package. What happened to PB&J on hamburger buns? microwave eggs? or a banana? Everything has to be either 110% sugar, OR gluten-free, sugar-free, GMO-free, organic, and made in the USA–which means it’s expensive, really, there’s nothing free about it. Don’t get me wrong, I try to feed my children healthy things, but I don’t lose sleep over the fact that they might get an extra cookie over at Magaw and Papa’s, or that my 3 year old in munching on fries that she found in her carseat from our trip to the drive-thru last week (or was it the week before last?).
What I do lose sleep over is that those monsters won’t eat their vegetables without a bribe. When I was young there were 2 options for eating veggies: Eat them, or Go to Bed. And with dinner at 6, there was no way I was gonna sacrifice those last 3 hours of my night, what if I missed T.G.I.F?! Carrots and Peas would NOT be the reason that I missed seeing what kind of trouble Corey and Shawn got into that week. But not my kids. I am offering screentime, sweet treats, or a if they would “PLEASE just eat 2 bites of anything green!”
*sigh* Okay, back to the list…
Going to school was a no-brainer, we and it wasFUN. Heck, even walking a mile to school every morning was fun. Where I lived, we had this chain of kids that walked together, and we relied on one another to get to school on time. The kid who lived the furthest away started the chain, he would walk to the nearest house that had kids, knock on their door, and wait for them to finish their morning stuff, and then would proceed to the next, and so on… I had this one friend who’s parents went to work super early some mornings, and I would find him sitting at our kitchen table eating cereal and watching TMNT (7am, on FOX) when I woke up. There wasn’t any arrangement with our parents weeks ahead of time, it just was what happened, no one seemed to care. Anyway, by the time we got to the school yard, we would be walking with what looked like the entire 5th grade class, and it was fun. If one kids was sick, it would throw off the whole routine, so if that wasn’t an incentive to NOT get sick, I don’t know what is.
Depending on the day, sometimes I would take a shortcut through this church yard that bordered a house that owned horses, and being kids, we thought it was our responsibility to stop and greet the horse each morning. At one point, someone had a brilliant idea that we fill buckets with weeds, grass, flowers, and other yard trimmings, and bring it to the horse each morning, so, for awhile, we lugged buckets around with us each morning. I remember getting into trouble for raiding the crisper for carrots, celery, and lettuce, but darn it all, that horse was worth being grounded!
Speaking of being grounded… When did that stop being a thing? I was grounded from everything at least once:
- Television: my mother would unplug the tv and leave the cord in a very specific swirl and location so she would know if I plugged it in while she was at work
- Playing After School: This was torture, because walking home with everyone was like saying my final farewells to a loved one. This also included not being able to call the neighbor kid as soon as I got home (you know, on the phone that was attached to the kitchen wall?). I still remember most of those phone numbers!
- Music: no tapes, no cd’s, no MTV, or VH1, and ABSOLUTELY NO Radio–Which was hardest on the weekends, because not being able to call the radio station and request songs was the worst.
- Weekend Activities: Self Explanatory, and it hurt the most when a slumber party or birthday at the roller rink was on the calendar. UGH.
- Grounded To My Room: This one I got the most, and didn’t affect me as much. I liked my room, except when I had to clean it (something that I WISH my kids would do)
…and so on.
I spent weeks playing by myself, reading The BabySitters Club, The BoxCar Children, or GooseBumps, and “reflecting over my bad decisions” while being grounded for doing something stupid. And honestly, I did some stupid things, usually involving a friend or six, like inviting them over to climb onto the roof and see if they could jump off and stick a landing (I’m not sure if I got caught for that one), stashing unfolded laundry in my closet because I didn’t want to fold it, or sneaking a jar of peanut butter from the pantry for a midnight snack and then leaving it under my bed, all the while denying that it was ME who did it… I was an only child, so… yeah, stupid things. I know it sounds silly, but I WISH my kids would do some of those stupid things.
So, why the crap can’t these kids cope? Have I ruined them? are they so plugged-in that they can’t see the world around them bursting with opportunity?
Kids THEN and kids NOW aren’t on the same playing field– I mean, kids NOW don’t know what it means to “play” on a “field,” PERIOD. And who’s fault is that? ours. We, as the adults (I use this term loosely, because, I’m not where near the level of adult that my mother was when I was my kids’ age) need to take back the reigns of authority, learn to say NO! and not negotiate with the miniature terrorists that we call children, and GO OUTSIDE! because as scary as the out might be, it’s full of adventures, and , FIGURE IT OUT!, and for the Love-Of-Parental-Sanity we need to learn to UNPLUG THE DANG TV!