Stop Acting Like a Child

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On Friday I received two letters. The first was from a school the boys will attend in the future, the second from their current educational institution.

Message from the Principal

Oftentimes I see students on the playground after school making choices that are not responsible or safe. Given that there is no staff supervision on the playground after school, I rely on parents to support their child(ren) in making great choices:

  • Walking, hanging or flipping on monkey bars is prohibited
  • Children should be going down the slide feet first (not climbing up slides or sliding down hands first)
  • Running is not permitted in the tan bark area or on the play structures.
  • There is no climbing up or hanging off the “twisty” slide

  • Running on the blacktop is not permitted

  • No tackle football, soccer or other play is permitted on the grass

Most important, students are NOT permitted to play unattended on the playground or grass area. Should you be picking up your child(ren) after the bell, they need to wait in the garden at the front of the school. Accidents and injuries occur when students are not making safe choices on the playground, or are not supervised by an adult. Thank you making the safety of our students a priority.

To recap, without an adult’s all-seeing eagle eye, an elementary-age student should sit politely on the grass. (Perhaps engaged in an academic conversation with schoolmates?)

Monkeying around may lead to falling. Falling is bad. The playground is not a safe place for exploration. In lieu of encapsulating all our sweet peas in a bubble: do not run in the play structure, do not run on the playground, do not play sports on the grass.

I think we can all agree. Safety is paramount. To ensure safety, please do not let your child act like a child. Realistically, this is a necessary reaction to the litigious nature of a helicopter parent society.

Destroy has been having a rough patch lately. He’s impulsive and wears his emotions on his sleeve. This was reflected in the second note. The handwritten page read simply,

Destroy hit another child in the face with a car and left a mark. He has been having a lot of trouble not hitting his friends, taking toys from them and knocking over their toys.

Tantrums abound amid a severe lack of listening ears. Apparently he was also being a bit wild and reckless at school.

Children are people. As they grow up they begin developing their own identities. It is only natural that these tiny people start to exhibit a desire for a bit of hands-on learning around their environment.

Today’s kids are treated as fragile breakable beings. They live in a world of rules and restrictions.

Don’t do this.

Stop doing that.

That’s not okay.

Be quiet.

Sit still.

Don’t act age-appropriately.

Can you blame them for acting out? I remember being a child and wanting numerous slices of delicious bread served at restaurants. But I wasn’t allowed. Nope – don’t eat any more, you’ll spoil your appetite. I vowed that one day I would go out to dinner and eat nothing but appetizer bread. It’s the little things…

Yesterday we took the boys out for a hike and picnic lunch. Destroy was less than thrilled with the menu offering of peanut butter and jelly. “I don’t want that. I’m not eating peanut butter for lunch! No!”

“Ok,” I replied, while silently dreading the low blood sugar meltdown that was certain to follow. “But that’s all we have right now.”

Instead of flinging the sandwich into the foliage abyss 2,400 feet below, my little 40-pounder skulked across the open space preserve parking lot and sat himself down on a rock. A while later, he decided he was hungry and decided to deal with the smashed nutty cuisine.

But the choice was his. He allowed himself to step away from the situation. And in controlling his own environment, he was able to control himself.

Perhaps, as adults, we should concern ourselves less with “protecting” our precious snowflakes and bemoaning behavior problems and focus more on letting kids be kids.

How can we expect them to be the next great generation if we won’t let them grow up, yet demand they act like bored adults? Believe me – there are plenty of times I’d love to run amuck. I regret passing those up in the days of my youth.

Methinks that bubble wrap may be more detrimental than we thought through. Let them run rampant on the playground. By definition it’s grounds for kids to play.

**********

Clarification: I actually find zero fault with the elementary school for implementing such a hard line. As mentioned, we live in a (ridiculously) litigious society. Parents have sued school districts (and won!) because their child was hurt whole playing unsupervised outside of school hours on the playground.

The mockery lies entirely upon the parental bubble forced on kids – myself included. It was a stark realization watching Destroy fight for a modicum of independence. Even against something as delicious as a PBJ sandwich.

3 Comments

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3 Responses to Stop Acting Like a Child

  1. roxy

    They’ve expelled a boy from kindergarden for not getting a haircut.Seriously, they said his hair was distracting the other students(his hair was above shoulder length).Yes, they have gone crazy and they are focusing on the wrong thing.Sure,the educational system sucks but hey, let’s focus on the kids’ hair length. That said, I hope you’re not trying to justify you kid smacking another kid in the face with a blunt object, in fact repeatedly smacking kids with “kids will be kids” or “there are too many rules”. Don’t play on the playground, cut your hair, don’t move too much yes, stupid rules for a kid; keep your hands to yourself, don’t hurt other people are valid rules in my opinion. Your post has very good points but the hitting doesn’t fit with the rest of the article or at least it’s the part I respectfully disagree with.

    • Thanks Roxy. I absolutely agree with you that keep your hands to yourself is a very valid rule. I included that note because it is an issue we’re continuously working on with Destroy who has the tendency to be very impulsive. Hitting is NOT ok (and as it turns out, he didn’t hit a kid, rather he flung a toy across the room without considering potential consequences, but that’s irrelevant because damage is damage).

      For me, the note about hitting was the catalyst of realization. As we work with him on his behavior, it is apparent at how much energy it takes for him to focus. I included it because he does so much better at keeping hands to himself when he is allowed time to truly be a child and play, and otherwise run amuck.

      I understand the school’s perspective due to lawsuits, but I wish we as a society were able to focus on behaviors that matter – such as “no hitting” – rather than “don’t play on the playground.

  2. roxy

    I understand.I hope I didn’t sound judgemental or mean because it was not my intention. Also, what you said in the last paragraph was essentially what I was trying to say but didn’t manage too(English is my second language and I’m tired right now).

    Anyways, I just read the FAQ and I cannot believe people can ask such questions.I feel like nothing can surprise me anymore.”Are they the same age?” Come on!

    You have beautiful children, I didn’t read much of the blog(yet!), but I read enough to understand that they survived prematurity and they are now thriving.Thanks for sharing your story, I’m sure you will work things out with Destroy!

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