Stories like this irk me to no end. A child gets suspended for making a fake gun out of his fingers. A school bans balls because of the threat of injuries a plastic ball could give if thrown at a particular speed and angle. Traditional holidays are banned from school settings simply because a few children do not participate in them. When and if I have a child, here are a couple of things that are going to happen:
My child will have scraped knees, bruises, and even a broken limb or two:
Injuries build character! A bruise or a cut is a lesson that not everything you try will pan out how you like, that there is risk in the world and consequences for running around like a dumb ass. Hey, you made an attempt of rappelling off the roof. Good for you. Sure you lost a finger, but thats the risk involved with being brave and testing new waters. You need to accept the idea of consequences as a normal occurrence in life. And if you do scrape your knees trying something new, so what? Just keep trying. Just don’t let me catch you on that roof again or there will be more than just a lost finger to worry about!
If my kid is ever placed in a school where things like running, cartwheeling, and ball playing is banned, they WILL be relocated to another school. Playing is part of childhood. You need to be able to run around and be adventurous while you can, and sometimes a kid will only get to do that while in a recess environment. Taking that away from them is taking away what it means to be young. Also, you know…obesity? Aren’t we all trying to raise a fit child now adays? I don’t think “standing in the recess yard staring at the concrete” is going to burn alot of calories.
My child will shun hand sanitizers:
Germs are real and we need to accept that. When I was a kid, it was normal to have the flu, to catch a cold, to have a sore throat. What about building up that immunity? The body can’t adjust to illness if there is a giant alchohol-scented shield surrounding them. I would rather my kid get sick and build up their immunity than have a child that needs to live in a plastic bubble their entire lives. Thats what we’re doing when we force children into using hand sanitizers. We’re putting them into a little hamster cage, too afraid to see them with a runny nose.
I’m not saying ‘Yay influenza!’, but a cold or sore throat is normal!
Have you, as a child, ever run through one of those cheap carnival haunted houses, or played in a ball pit? Don’t you remember that filthy and disgusting film those places would have on their walls and moving objects? The grimy stickiness of plastic balls as you swam through them? The clammy dampness of that pleather punching bag? I went through these things, and don’t recall getting sick. I was literally running a germ gauntlet, and not a single sniffle. If a child can go through a bacteria infested place like that and be fine, a little close contact with germs at school isn’t going to kill them. It will only grow them stronger. More resilient!
I also don’t want to raise a wimpy kid who gets scared if they touch a doorknob. I’ve never heard of anyone getting ill or dieing from touching a germy surface, so I don’t see the need to force a child to constantly sanitize when in a school environment.
Not only that, but you’re teaching a kid that the world is a dangerous, sickness provoking world and they are not safe in it. Not without a tube of scented alcohol, anyway!
My child will be exposed to “violent” cartoons:
When I was younger, I used to watch Looney Tunes and all those cartoons that now are considered too “violent”. Who could’ve thought that eating Dynamite and having your tummy explode would be an aspect of cartoons taken seriously? Do we think our child will go out and find TNT and try to emulate their favorite character?
Have parents not realized that a child can just as easily discern fantasy from reality as an adult? If this was not the case we’d have squealing toddlers throwing tantrums that they can’t actually visit Sesame street, or 8 year olds miffed that mommy won’t buy them a real life Pokemon for their birthday. Theres a clear line between fantasy and reality that even little children can understand. It is why storytelling in general is so popular. We know its fake, and we allow ourselves to escape into these fantasy worlds as a form of stress relief. Or maybe we (Gee!) just like a good story.
If your child thinks he can (again) rappel off your rooftop because Batman did it, there is something more than a little television rotting you child’s brain. Those people who can’t discern reality from fantasy? Thats what we call CRAZY.
Its the same argument as to why video games breed killers, which was the same argument to explain why comic books created psychopaths. Its okay to be interested in a little escapist media. it will not turn your brain to mush. You will not wake up one day and think you are the Batman. Your child’s knowledge of physics and gravity will not be altered by a flying man in red and blue spandex. Your kid, also, DOES INFACT know that wearing a cape doesn’t make you fly. And if they are confused on these little details TALK TO THEM! That why you’re there. To straighten out any confusion their little brains may have.
As to Looney Tunes in general, I can not see a generation growing up without being exposed to what is considered classic, golden age animation. The height of cartooning excellence! I want my kids to appreciate Tom and Jerry for the artistry of it, not just for the humor!
The exploding stomachs are fun too.
My child will not be rewarded merely for existing:
When I was in elementary school, there was a reading competition. We all had to read books the entire year, and the student who read the most would get a special little plastic medallion proclaiming their awesomeness.
When it was time to announce the winners, all the students at the elementary school got a little ribbon for their necks, but the top readers got those sparkling shining medals.
And I was sooo pissed I didn’t get one.
Was I upset? Did I feel dumb? Yes! Is it wrong to expose your child to these negative feelings? Absolutely not. It makes them want to try harder, to do better. It teaches them that you don’t become a champ just for existing. You may be sunshine and angel wings in your mother’s eyes, but you’re just another bum to the world at large. And thats how it needs to be, as that is how it is in the real world. You need to teach a child that the world will not open its golden gates on a whim simply because you step forward. You need to get a crowbar out and start jamming that sucker open.
Imagine if I had gotten a shiny medallion just for being there! Maybe I would feel special and fuzzy inside for that one moment, but how would I be learning anything from that? Rather than teaching me that hard work pays off, it would be like getting a Happy Meal toy. No hard work. No trying. Just eat your burger and play with this cheap plastic and smile. No lessons. I have a sparkling piece of plastic. Go me.
In summation.. (TL;DR)
It seems we want to put our children in a plastic bubble of sunshine, happiness, and antibacterial hand soap. They can’t get hurt, or dirty, or sad, and if they feel like this even slightly, society deems we are doing a bad job.
But in reality the world is dirty, and grimy, and full of bitter people. Why place them in a bubble when, as a parent, its your job to prepare them for that griminess, if that griminess presents itself? Parents around the world want only the best for their kid. They want them to succeed, to never feel the way we felt, to never feel rejected or lost or sad. But the truth is none of us really know what kind of future a child will have. Maybe they will luck out, be motivated, become a CEO. But if they fail and fall and lose, will they be able to cope with that? Can they be happy with failure?
It is possible to be happy in all situations. But you have to equip a child with the tools to be happy. And that doesn’t require coddling, sanitizing, back-patting. It requires teaching them about the value of hard work, of persistence, of endurance.
And exploding stomachs full of TNT.