My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

Run With The Tiny Wolves Day

2006-10-10

So, Dusty survived her long, long day at the Y and is so, so happy to be going back to school today. Poor thing. It sounds like she had a decent day but it was long and apparently stressful for her to be in a strange place with a different structure (or perhaps very little of one) and a much different pace to the day. Though she brought her bathing suit, she didn’t end up swimming. The kids had to prove (by diving in?) they could swim in order to get in the pool which Dusty said had no shallow end and Dusty just didn’t feel confident enough to try. So, she and some of the other kids watched a movie. She claimed the movie had scary parts which would give her nightmares but she slept in her own bed all night long.

She had been fretting about the day all weekend. She didn’t know what to expect and it was making her anxious (clearly she is my child). She wasn’t convinced her friends would be there. But, when we arrived, all her friends were there. And three of them ran over to hug her (children love to hug Dusty). They dragged her off to draw on the white board with them and Red and I left.

The day was filled with playground, movie and, late in the afternoon, a trip to a pumpkin patch. Dusty said they went is a spooky barn and a maze made of hay bales and then they got to pick pumpkins to take home. Dusty’s is round and plump and perfect.

She was very tired, though, when I picked her up. “They don’t have a rest time,” she said in a worn-out querulous voice. “I know,” I told her, “Because all these kids are school age.” Dusty likes her rest period. Because the bus was late bringing the kids back, we were late getting home, late eating dinner (Red polished off an entire banana in the car), late getting baths, late getting into bed. I think both of them slept like stones all night.

My husband and I watched a couple of Pete & Pete episodes and then hit the sack as well. Dusty is right now back in the comfort of Mrs. White’s kindergarten class. Speaking of which, we’ve got an appointment to meet with Mrs. White and the reading specialist next Tuesday. I’m very curious to hear what they have to say.

Rant Alert!

This article was in Monday’s paper. My response is a resounding “no duh!”

Of course kids need to play more. Goes without saying and the fact that it’s a news article and that doctors are saying it means that we’ve all just lost our minds.

Kindergarten is no longer a place for play. Those days are over. You can argue about whether that’s a good thing or not but it won’t change facts. And, those days (my era) in which kindergarten classroom included dress-up corners and house corners, children did not attend preschool as often as they do now. Preschool is where unstructured play occurs in the non-home setting.

Yes, I think a lot of children have overscheduled lives. But whose fault is that? Certainly not the children’s. I find this quote revealing, “There is a part of me that would worry if I don’t sign my son up for some of these things, will he not be on par with the other kids.”

Huh. You know, that has never occurred to me, to worry whether my kids were “on par” with other children. At least in terms of extracurricular activities. When I consider Daisy Girl Scouts and Odyssey of the Mind for Dusty, my only thought is whether she’ll enjoy them and get something out of the experiences. Will it be worth her time to get involved in these things? Never once did I compare her to her friends and think, “Oh gosh, everyone’s doing it, I guess she should too. Wouldn’t want her to be left behind!” Like the rapture, I guess.

There is also the time and distance factor when I consider activities for Dusty (I’ll leave Red out of the equation for now). Where and when is the activity being held? Also, what does it cost? Because that’s a real issue. Dusty wanted dance lessons. She got them because Grandma paid for them and they were held in the preschool building during school hours. I guess if you wanted to really piss me off you could tell me that Dusty would have been able to do much more if I didn’t work full-time and just spent my days ferrying her around from one place to another. But I live in reality and her preschools offered her more various experiences than I might otherwise have been able to.

Dusty will probably get a guitar for her birthday. Now, I have to consider lessons. Will she want them, should she have them? They do have a guitar teacher who teaches Saturday lessons. The guitar store is near the grocery store so distance isn’t a problem. The lessons cost money but it’s not an unreasonable cost. But, I’ll cross that bridge later. We’ll see how it goes.

But, yeah, unstructured fun should be what kids are about. It’s should be their job, per se. And my kids get all they want. They are lucky and perhaps they’re in the minority. Sunday was nothing BUT unstructured fun. Dusty stole one of my scarves and turned it into a clothes line. She strung the line between a kitchen chair and the hutch. She hung up doll clothes with wooden clothes pins. Never mind that nobody could cross it to pass into the next room. There was outside time where Red tested out every fallen tree branch and Dusty searched for new mushrooms. We hung skull lights and jack-o-lantern lights in the living room and they played Spooky Room. They played a game in the bathtub where they threw sopping wet washcloths at each other (aiming for the face, naturally) and giggling uncontrollably.

Oh, and then there was this line: “…enrichment tools and organized activities can be beneficial but should not be viewed as a requirement for creating successful children.” Successful children? Is that what we’re creating? God, it’s so like all the ridiculous theories about education that I studied in grad school, all that post-Sputnik crap that led to a “back to basics” curriculum that we’re still living with. BTB is why art and music teachers are part-time and their lessons considered extracurricular.

Can’t we just raise our children to be smart, practical, creative and loving with a heap of common sense? I’m not raising my kids to be part of some master race. I mean, how is “successful” here being defined? I don’t expect my kids to be Type-A stock brokers or even doctors or lawyers (perish the thought), unless that’s what they want to be (though it’s highly doubtful in my case). I do want them to set their own goals and feel successful in whatever it is they end up pursuing but actually unstructured play will only help to that end.

But really, I shouldn’t pay too much attention to news reports about how we’re all parenting so badly, in general. So much of this kind of thing is crap to make us feel guilty for not doing the right thing – especially when the “right thing” (which is defined by “experts”) seems to change daily. Even though I absolutely agree with this article. I’m just saying, when will it be Guilt-Free Parents Day where we can let the tiny noble savages run amuck in our homes and have a totally unstructured and fun day and we can all just enjoy the shit out of our kids? They don’t stay this age (whatever age they happen to be at this very moment) for long. Frankly, I think every day should be Guilt-Free Parents Day or Run With the Tiny Wolves Day.

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9:09 a.m. ::
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