The Overscheduled Child

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Over at MSN they have an article about how kids need time to "do nothing," unstructured play time that's theirs and theirs alone.

Then a pretty damning indictment of the modern conventional wisdom of parenting follows.

This led me to think four competing thoughts simultaneously. They are:

1. I wish I knew how to play a musical instrument.
2. Kids are much more resilient than we think.
3. Formulaic anything is never as good as original work.
4. It takes all kinds of childhoods to make all kinds of grownups.

I never learned to play a musical instrument, although I did give the guitar a bit of a try and gave up on it for reasons that elude me at the moment. Probably, it was complete and utter lack of talent. I do wish I'd learned how to play the saxaphone. That'd be so cool. Anyway, I'm forcing my kids to learn to play a musical instrument. My children will thank me for it later.

Those same children will probably also be like most other children: resilient. I expect to make a LOT of mistakes if I have kids. And I expect they'll be just fine if I do.

I'm also going to make a lot up. I figure that what I come up with might be wrong, but that's better than something formulaic that I don't understand. I'm not saying that I'm gonna ignore expert advice, just that I'm gonna use my judgement often rather than relying on the ideas of others.

Finally, I'm glad there's a cultural movement out there overscheduling their kids! We need all different kinds of adults, even fidgety insomniacs with lifetime learning disabilities as a result of childhood overscheduling. I'm grateful to parents who have their children's entire lives mapped out. I'm much happier competing against someone who comes from that kind of background than some scrappy guy who worked his way up from government housing to owning a chain of grocery stores. That first guy is going to fold within about fifteen minutes. That second guy will probably not ever quit.

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I can't tell you how good your comments made me feel. I did the best I could raising you all that I was capable of at the time, but because there are so many ways to raise children and so many opportunities, too many to take advantage of all of them, and, well, I beat myself up some on the parenthood front -- as you can tell from Rae's blog.

Yes, I wish I had been able to provide music, dance and art lessons for each of you at the time you expressed interest. I probably should wish that I had encouraged you in athletics. Etc. But I, also, believe that kids are resilient, more so than we give them credit for. (Or, maybe, the things that we think are going to traumatize them are not as important to them. This still leave the option for them to be traumatized by other things THEY think of as important.) And, you're right, formulaic anything is never as good as spontaneous, responsive, original anything. And yes, it does take all kinds of childhoods to make all kinds of adults. Even your childhood. I must say, it might not have been what I had imagined for you as childhoods go, but I am pleased with the results. All four of them.

Yay! I'm glad this made you smile, Maman!

This post was an exercise in trying to get out everthing that was in my head at a given time.

Usually, there's four or five things knocking about in there simultaneously and it's a challenge to get them all on to the page before they vanish, thoughts being the ephemeral ghosts that they are.

But, lucky me, you liked it, too!

And it's not too late to learn to play a musical instrument. Start now.

Like me, see - I'm cramming all those dance lessons in now - and since it's my choice, I'm enjoying it. :-)

Okay, I wish I could play an instrument, too, but then I have a guitar sitting here...I'm just not taking the initiative. Shame on me, I guess. I seem to do better when it's organized - other than just deciding to do it on my own and carrying through (ugh, thesis as case in point)

Nae, are you familiar with EST? i think it's called the Forum now. anyhow, it suggests that at any point in your life you are entirely responsibile for who you are. we can blame our parents, we can blame others, we can blame the people who raped or molested us. But, if we blame others we lose power. if we take responsibility, we are our own masters. that way, we may not be able to change the situation we're in, but we can do something about it. even if it's simply to change the way we think. however, now that we are where we are in our lives we can dwell in the past like our overstructured friends. or we can say, forget it, and start trucking forward like our friend from the projects who will never quit. anyhow, i discovered EST (who, by the way were crazy) on my own... as in, I came to many of the same conclusions before i ran into their thought framework. i'm sure that you're familiar with their philosophy and have some interesting for of intellectualization to comment on, but think of it in terms of practicality. childhoods, upbringins, etc... don't really make different types of adults. different types of adults make different types of adults.
that's not to disregard Abdu'l-Baha's metaphor with a tree. if a child grows up right, like a tree, it will be straight all of its life. it a child is twisted and corrupted early on, like the tree, it will be twisted and corrupted. don't read too much into the permanence of trees there because we all know the cliche "people change." now, off with yee! have fun, celebrate mara's birthday while there's still time.

I think we can we be responsible for our identity and still be unhappy about events in our past. Sure it's not a great idea to cling to our anger/hurt over things in the past, but what you do in those crappy situations and how you deal with them is part of who you are. To say forget it is like saying, well, who I used to be isn't worth saving, so instead of dealing with reality, I'm gonna move forward as if nothing ever happened and that's just as bad as dwelling in the past.
Also, I would argue that life does have an influence on who we are. People have to make a concerted effort to change their habits...I think that shows that upbringing has a huge affect on who we are. You can say, well you still are responsible for who you are, but we still are largely affected by our childhood experiences.

They're baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ack!

hey nae, could you check my blog? i tried rebuilding it and it wouldn't let me. anyhow, the internet is not seeing my last post.

Alright, how did you do THIS?

Hey, Mara! I'll happily tell you: I stole it. I stole the idea from someone else while trying to get your picture onto the front of my blog in a sticky kind of way.

There's this awesome picture of you drinking coffee in Spain that I want on the front of my blog, maybe with a bit of text ("This is my sister!") and then clickable, so that your blog appears if you click on your picture.

I think that would be nifty.

Okay, so how do I steal it - or something else ... from, say, you?

So did you change the look of your page or is it the different computer? And, Mara, what are you seeing that you are asking Nae about? I see nothing.

Used to be black ... now it's white, lavendar ... you don't see it?

Nathan, oh Nathan, where are you? I keep seeing a new date on your blog and get my hopes up that you have graced us with your presence, only to be disappointed . . .again. I miss you. I miss your wit and sense of humor and fun. I miss you.

Yes, I do see that. I don't know what I thought you were seeing.

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This page contains a single entry by Nate published on December 21, 2004 9:44 PM.

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