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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What are We Doing to Our Kids?

A second, let me repeat, SECOND ninth grader at my son's future high school committed suicide. The first, through the parent rumor mill (not a completely unreliably source, but yet still taken with much salt), did so due to sheer exhaustion. The second, well, as yet I know no details, but I would suspect that the same contributed.

We live in a frazzled world and the pressures on our kids are beyond belief. My son is clipping away towards the end of his sixth grade year just barely keeping his head above water. Twelve hour days would be easy at this point. Yesterday, it was a 15 hour day and that's just school and homework. We vetoed a golf lesson, which would have been a nice break, but there just wasn't enough time. Math homework. Social studies project. Instrument practice. Book reports. Reading. At one point I caught him sound asleep on top of his homework.

What ever happened to watching the clouds roll by? Whatever happened to play? Isn't it truly a sign of the times that organizations are now offering classes about how to play with your kids or how important it is to get your kids outside? This was unheard of not too long ago.

There's something that's happened to parenting that is breaking my heart. I call it Competitive Parenting and there are no winners, just kids that lose out on childhood. "Well, we're so busy," the conversation usually begins. And then it's flop back and forth trying to one up one another. "High performance math? My son bypassed that and is now at MIT finishing his doctorate." "We have hockey, cheer leading, and a class on identifying trees tonight. Tomorrow is the science fair. Ben made a laser and shot a hole in the moon. Don't worry, we got a permit from NASA."

But, then there are the real conversations with parents focused on the happiness and well being of their kids.

And we're worried.

It's too much on their shoulders. It's. Just. Too. Much.

We've seriously considered chucking it all and heading for the hills, but it's too late for that. Sam loves his friends and a move would destroy him.

Meanwhile, we sit and wait for the next one to fall.

When we carry our babies we hope for health and happiness. Where does this get lost in the shuffle?

The news of this latest suicide lies heavily on me. I feel as if I'm working through a fog today. I'm emotional and scared and ticking off the tasks that Sam has yet to complete just today and none of them are ever going to make a damn bit of difference in his life when it comes right down to it.

In one day this Spring I received nine catalogs touting enrichment courses for kids. Camp this and class that. I tossed them all and I encourage you to do the same. Shred em. Put them in the recycling, go immediately to your calendar and write play on every day. And then do it. All summer.

And when the school year comes around again, ask yourself how you can help your kids learn the real lessons of balance, relaxation, stress relief, happiness, and joy. Remind yourself of those moments not so long ago of their impending arrival into your life when you wished for health and happiness and then make it happen.

Those lessons are just as important as anything else. Nope, scratch that, they're more important. And until we start making sure that they are, our kids are at risk.

Peace to the family. Peace to her friends, teachers, and anyone else torn apart by grief. Peace to all those touched by her life and wounded by her passing. Peace.

1 comment:

  1. Oh girl, this is so sad. I will be praying for peace for these families.

    I second everything you said. You know I'm all about keeping them busy but I'm equally passionate about taking a moment to stop and smell the roses. Rest, peace and sun tanned toes is what summer should be all about. I hope you all enjoy your days :)


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