Irene: Whoa, stop! You're going to hurt yourself. You know, when I was a little girl, I broke my leg.He'd made a good point, and Irene lets him go, and it made me laugh.
Little Boy: How is it now?
Irene: (looking down at her leg) My leg? It's okay.
Little Boy: So why are you griping at me?
When I was a kid, we didn't have bike helmets. And we lived. When I was a kid we played on monkeybars built over asphalt pads (so we wouldn't get muddy, but that definitely encouraged us not to fall off, and you only have to fall off once to learn that lesson, and most of us did). And we lived. We played on teeter totters (and not the way they were intended). And we lived. At any given time from the time I was in first grade, until about the eighth grade, at least one kid in the class was wearing a cast, was on crutches, had stitches, or a black-eye. We played games and there were winners and losers--and nobody got a prize for "participation." It made us want to win. It taught us about competition. And we didn't have a "mercy rule" in Little League. I remember games going on forever, until a coach finally decided enough was enough, and tossed in a towel. That's how my generation learned the important lessons in life--at the chalkboard, the ball diamond, the playground, and the classroom.
Sometimes I wonder if we're doing our kids a favor by being so over-protective of them. I wonder if these zero-tolerance rules on bullies is a good thing. I wonder if giving trophies for "participation" is a good idea. I work in a college, and I see these kids raised in this new world every day. They have developed no skills in dealing with conflict--and whether we like to admit it or not, we can make all the rules we want to about it in school, but there are always going to be bullies out in the real world. We need only look at our two year election cycle to realize that there is no "zero-tolerance" rules in the real world--every two years, we're treated to a barrage of bullying between candidates. What are we going to do in a few years when our kids are running for these offices, and have no experience in dealing with adversity?
Are we doing our kids a favor by protecting them from learning the same lessons we did? I don't think so. Shouldn't we be teaching our kids to stand up and be strong instead of trying to remove all the obstacles that they'll learn the most valuable lessons from?
Perhaps there is a lesson here my generation could learn about raising kids from our parents and grandparents. Instead of sheltering and protecting our kids from the adversity of the real world, perhaps we should prepare them for it, by letting them learn a few lessons the hard way. It's hard. We don't want our kids to go through those same things we did--but how else will they learn the real lessons that life teaches?
Growing up was tough for me, but it definitely prepared me for all the comments and emails I'll get about this post. So fire away. I'm ready.