I was at the airport the other day on my way back from The Conference on the Value of Play, which made what happened all the more poignant.
A little girl no older than seven was telling her grandmother about all the activities she was involved in. She rattled them off like an executive rattles off meetings and conference calls: judo, dance, soccer, gymnastics and church activities.
Plus, she said as she rolled her beautiful green eyes, “I always have homework.“
Her mother looked on with pride. Her grandmother looked apprehensive at best.
The Grass Stain Guru bit her tongue.
How, I wondered? How can this poor little girl keep up with all of that? She must be exhausted.
Why, I wondered? Why would her parents schedule this poor little thing within an inch of her life? And themselves? Somebody has to drive her to all of these activities.
When, I wondered? When does this bright-eyed little girl have time to be a kid?
Where, I wondered? Where did we go wrong as a society, sending the message that this is what childhood is supposed to be like? That this is what parenting is supposed to be like, a veritable Cruise Director?
At the airport that day I eavesdropped on society, and I didn’t like what I heard. At all. I’m not sure why I was so surprised at what I heard. I’ve heard it ALL before, time and time again. I’ve written about it before…spoken about it.
But coming off that conference being surround by others who are play advocates and scholars, the reality of today’s children’s reality hit me like a ton of bricks. And I didn’t like it one bit.
Simply put, what passes for childhood today is simply not good enough. It’s not good for the children, the parents/families, the teachers, and society as a whole.
I found this video the other day. This, my friends — this is what childhood should look like.
So folks, where do we go from here? Let me know your thoughts.
And now if you will excuse me, there is a tree I need to go climb.