Well It Worked for Me...

I reckons being prostrate for two and a half weeks makes a person think a lot.

I thought back to my childhood.  All the beauty and such.  I realize that I was among the last generation who was fortunate enough to get the raw, unabridged, unedited childhood before lawsuits and parental drama took away the fun.

If'n you haven't experienced a hot metal slide in the summer, you have not truly been a child.

Children today have been truly deprived.  Not just because of all the stuff that we did, but because they aren't being allowed to learn life lessons the good old fashioned way.  Whether you had one parent or both was almost irrelevant.  Just having the experience of being a kid in our days taught you a lot.  Truth be told, methinks that I learned more just from being allowed to do it.

What I mean is simple: kids aren't even being allowed to be kids.

Let me share with you some lessons I learned and how I learn-ed them.

*You can't win 'em all:  That was a really early and constant lesson in childhood.  I entered a poster contest when I was in CLUE at Hamilton Elementary.  (I attended Alcy, but had to commute because they didn't have CLUE for my grade at Alcy).  I spent a grip of time working on it.  I remember exactly what it was, mah-fact.  I did a poster showing all the healthy foods that helped improve your eyesight.  My reward for busting my rump was a second place finish.  Seeing as I felt some type of way, I asked my teacher what was wrong with it.  She said "nothing.  It's just that someone worked a little harder than you.  Or maybe they didn't work as hard and just got lucky.  Life is like that sometimes".  It took damn near a decade for me to understand that.  Correction: I understood it quite quickly, but it took a decade not to be salty!  LOL!  She was exactly right, though.  In life, there's always someone who worked a little harder than you, a little longer, and a little better.  Then in life, there's someone who isn't nearly as good who just lucked out.  The fact of the matter is you simply can't win all the time.  Why kids can't learn this today:  Parents have made it to where everyone wins.  Kids are getting awards for doing what they're supposed to instead of what makes them exceptional.  Getting a ribbon for coming to school everyday on time is kind of, well, unnecessary.  Give them shits out in college when you wake up hungover yet still make it to class!

*Getting picked last won't kill you:  As a chunky kid, I wasn't always highly touted to be the next kickball cham-peen.  The only time my chunknicity came in handy was when I won tug of war for my class on Field Day 1997 at JPF.  Whenever it was time to choose the teams, I was almost always last.  It felt kind of crappy to be sitting on the bench while the jocks and cool kids had fun.  In hindsight, that disappointment had a twofold lesson for me.  First, it let me know that Jockdom ain't in my cards.  Second, it prepared me to feel rejection.  Why kids can't learn this today:  Look at how parents act with Little League and such.  Just look.  When the kid with the least skill ends up on the bench, someone has a bone to pick.  Parents won't allow their kids to experience that head hanging experience of not being picked.  This moment could be one in which a parent tells their child that these things happen in life.  Nobody LIKES it, but it's part of life.  Sometimes, it's the setup for something better..or it's the start of a downward trend.  The fact is..IT HAPPENS.

*Always apply yourself:  I began and ended my tenure with the joint formerly known as Memphis City Schools as a Optional Student.  I never had any trouble academically and quite honestly, school was a breeze for me.  Well, I transferred to Snowden Elementary for 4th grade and walked in expecting that same type of ease at this school.  Much to my shock, I didn't make Principal's List that first six weeks there.  That was the first time in my life I met a B.  Mom didn't even trip.  She told me that I was in a new school and that I had to remember that things would be different.  After that, I got back on the wagon for true.  I didn't like that feeling, so I had to make sure that was the LAST time.  Why kids can't learn this today:  Just like the previous post, look how parents act!  My mom didn't come to the school ready to undo all of Snowden's nice construction.  She dealt with ME, as that was where the problem was...with me.  She didn't blame the teachers.  She didn't blame the Greenie.  She didn't go to the principal.  Wasn't necessary.  She didn't even get into the "my child does NOT make B's" speech like some parents did.  She felt that the disappointment in my face was enough of a lesson.  Too many times, parents go with their guns blazing ready to place blame on something when it is really the fault of their children.  Junior didn't get a D because his teacher hates him.  He got it because he hasn't turned in an assignment in weeks.

*Sometimes, getting what you want isn't a good thing, yo:  The metal slide in the summertime.  OH, Claude Jesus the metal slide in the summertime.  Have you ever played on that old school equipment in the summer?  I can almost hear the sound of my flesh! AHHHHH!  Why kids can't learn this today:  Hell, the whole playground is plastic now!  Though I was being funny about the metal slide, the point was clear.  That hot slide was the exact reason why you weren't supposed to go play right then.  I remember hearing an adult say "wait until the sun goes down" as we flocked to that equipment.  Instead of being allowed to learn as the result of a burned ass, a knot on the dome or a little road rash, kids are just..there.  Back in our days, kids got hurt every day just being kids.  Of course, we don't want our babies hurt or worse, but it comes with being a child!  My three year old already has a scratch on his belly.  Note that he hasn't done said action again..

*The playing field can't always be level:  I spent a little of my kindergarten being homeschooled due to surgery.  My school couldn't accommodate me and my wheelchair, so I had someone come to me.  In fifth grade, I had to eat lunch in the classroom because I couldn't get around very well on crutches.  When my daughter went to school at the same joint I went to in fifth grade, I saw a MAJOR change.  Most notably, RAMPS!  After doing a little homework for my class, I found out that the school that once couldn't accommodate me at all has since made similar changes.  I didn't die because I spent a couple of months at home.  Also, I learned how to walk on two, yes TWO casted feet because I got tired of being left out!  I attended many of my cousins' Hillcrest football games without that wheelchair.  RRRAH!  Why kids can't learn this today:  Because whenever something leaves out a few, it's either tweaked or banned altogether.  (Please understand that a child should NEVER be left out due to race, learning disability, financial status or religious preference.  Let me make that clear!)  In a way, it stunts kids.  A little adversity can build character.  I know.  I lived it.  It goes back to being picked last for kickball..you either deal or get better.  I am not speaking as a kid who struggled daily, but I had my battles.  Again, try walking on two casts that were not designed to be walked on.  I was on my Velociraptor, but it came as the result of adapting.  Let kids adapt sometimes.

And last but never least...

*Research and follow your own path:  In 2007, I found my 4 year plan from 1996.  In that year, I sat down and planned what I wanted to do for my high school career.  I wrote out each and every class I wanted to take.  That thing read like a surefire recipe for being a smart ass Hippie.   Lots of foreign language, a business course, band, and like, the stuff I needed to graduate.  I also chose what was referred to as the Combined Path.  I wanted to learn a couple of technical things because I wanted to always have a hustle.  Why kids can't learn this today:  We have placed too much focus on college as being the natural next step after high school.  Our former school district used to say "Every Child. Every Day. College Bound".  That sounds SO CUTE.  The only problem is that, well, not every kid is college material.  That isn't an insult, either.  That's fact.  A meme that I saw once said that even if everyone was allowed to go to college, we'd still need someone to fix our cars.  I remembered thinking that I should have taken some of those tech classes I liked, but my guidance counselor told me I was "too smart to do that".  Dang...too smart to have a side hustle to pay my bills?  Shit you say!  Technical education is not for dummies.  It takes a great deal of intellect and knowledge to fix that HVAC unit.  My mechanic was no dummy when he fixed my cars.  Kids should be allowed to research their dreams.  You want to be a doctor? Cool.  Let's see what they do, how much schooling they need, and how much it costs.  You want to be a construction worker?  Aight.  Let's go talk to some.  Let's find out what you need to know.

I could go on with how parents and lawsuits have contributed to the reduced experiences that kids have.  We aren't allowing kids to have as many teachable moments as we did.  Bumping our heads was how we learned how to duck.  Smashed fingers, bruised egos, crushed spirits and a couple of doctor visits came with the territory back in the 80's and 90's when I was a child.  And the thing is, I lived a rather tame childhood due to disability!  I can only imagine what I missed being stuck in the house.  But I learned so much!  We say that we don't want our kids to go through the same things we did, but at times, you just have to let it happen. I know I don't want my kids to know how bad it felt to slam your hand in a truck door.  I warn and hover so they won't experience that pain.  But, if they keep doing what I say they shouldn't, they'll find out for true.  I could continue hovering for the next 10 years..but who am I helping when I do that?  There's a fine balance between being a Helicopter Parent and completely Hands-Free.  Just be aware that learning takes place all around you.

Every single time you yell at the coach for pulling your underperforming kid out of the game, you're taking away his time to learn the importance of practice.  When you tell the teacher to stop giving out such hard work, you're not allowing your child the chance to improve his or her study habits.  Kids are going to be kids, and I know our job is to make sure they don't eat ice cream for dinner all week.  But sometimes, they have to find out the hard way.  Quit crippling these babies so they won't get to college wondering why the world is not revolving around them...

~Fin

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