I have always had a passion for protecting childhood. I often think that this is because my own childhood was rather idyllic, growing up with much love and siblings all around me… and freedom to run and play outside knowing that I was secure. My mom will often say, “happiness is,” as we reflect on those fun days of lots of kids in the house. We didn’t have a lot of money then, at least I don’t think so, and yet, I never worried about money or felt that my parents did either. My childhood was not about stuff, or the stress of teams, expectations, or anything else like that. We rolled down the driveway in trashcans and caught fireflies after dark. My childhood was a childhood.
That being said, I don’t think that I can attribute all of my drive to this upbringing because I cared about protecting childhood even as a child myself. I knew I wanted to be a mom, so that I could make my babies as happy and loved as I was.
For a long time, it has bothered me that we dress toddlers as tiny adults, and babies even. It bothers me that we make them wear grown up shoes and have “outfits.” And yet, I do it to my own kids too!!! I realized that its not so much the clothes that bother me, because I actually think those are cute. I just feel like we try to make them BE little adults. We stress that they need to sit still at hour-long doctors appointments, or else we don’t want to bring them! We want them to be okay with trying on clothes, and we don’t want them to ever be bored or have to make up a game. We want them to keep their clothes clean. We want them to grow up having the best and being the best… talk about pressure! AND THEN, we are surprised when elementary school kids speak like adults, and middle schoolers who have adult relationships. I disagree with all of these things but I have never been able to separate myself from it, or figure out why it just seems natural to force adulthood onto babies, toddlers and children.
As I finished my degree this last year, I was able to take several courses revolving around parenthood and childhood. It opened my eyes to the “why” behind it all. Get ready for me to BLOW YOUR MIND. Okay, probably not but it was an awakening for me! Less people on the planet (especially in developing countries) are having children at all, and the people who do, have only 1-2. Because of this, the average amount of time a person in a developed country lives with a child under the age of 17 in their entire lifetime is 6 years. As people divorce, remarry, stay single, etc., our society has become all about “me” and children just don’t fit into that. SO as a result, we have done everything we can to expect others to either not have children in restaurants, stores, offices, etc., OR we expect them to be no more trouble to us than an adult.
Ive rambled on long enough. We need a childhood revival. Its okay to dress them nice and give great opportunities, etc. but we also just need to let them be little. Let them be gross and silly and (dare I say) annoying, and play games WAY too long. Im trying to even let my almost 4 year old take his sweet time with potty training because of this… even if it kills me. Hope you don’t think I am being preachy… just on my mind a lot. Snuggle your babes tonight.