Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Talk about pressure

First, a picture of the Tamarindo sunset on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. For lilligrit.

Funny, just yesterday I was talking to a good friend of mine - a 66-year-old good friend - about how much pressure there is on children today.

First-hand, I know that parents are choosing schools and daycares sometimes even before Junior is born. Shocking, sometimes necessary if you live in a place like New York, but a growing reality.

And we wonder why kids are blowing off more and more steam at younger ages.

All through high school there's the pressure to get your grades up, pick a college, pick a university, pick a major, blah blah blah... Should I feel guilty that, as aunt and uncle, we've been having the career conversation with Arriel since she was 7?

She currently wants to be a singing geologist or an actor and medical investigator (what we call those CSI people locally). She had a fleeting consideration of the police department...

I was telling my friend that I think part of the reason people can't just relax and enjoy where they are right now is because from an earlier and earlier age, people are pressuring them to make choices about their future. Look at this kid. He can't even enjoy being a toddler without civic pressure.

Yep, you surely do need to think about the future. But I think James said it best, something about dwelling on the past or living in the future and seldom being where he is today.

I know that feeling. Seems like I've spent most of my life out of the current time zone.

Maybe the subconscious reason we do it is because we're a bit envious of the young, we wish we could go back in time to a lazy summer day, lying on the rock cuts, talking to friends, without a care in the world...

But don't ask me why we'd want to rush ahead to the days of dentures, rocking chairs and knitting needles. Looks to me like some people are already halfway there!

Here's some rare wisdom for you from my blog:

Learn from the past but don't let it control you
Look to the future but don't let it consume you
Live today, and be thankful for it

Which I'll try to do. Right after I plan my annual budget, calculate the retirement savings and sue my parents for the childhood traumas that still haunt me.


Anonymous said...

Great advice, Sandra. Career choices for anyone under 18 is an educational exercise only. The notion that someone chooses a career at 9 and actually sticks to it is utterly ludicrous.

I also refuse to become an activities parent. Playing four sports and joining three clubs isn't going to get a child anywhere but burned out and too dependent on others for direction.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Thanks Jason!

My sister is an activities parent. But I will say this: she has sought to give her kids a chance to try anything that interested them, no matter how much they had to rely on soup and rice to get by. And then they have to make choices, they can't do everything.

Plus, my niece and older nephew are actively involved in youth singers, where they learn singing, choreography and acting. They've been performing in front of hundreds to even a few thousand people for a good few years now and my sister and brother-in-law both actively participate in the organization. So they aren't just pawning the kids off.

I actually was naughty at Christmas. We gave Arriel the CSI forensic investigation kit that she wanted, but I also gave her two Lyn Hamilton mysteries (archeological mysteries) to remind her of her interest in that. Just so she keeps her options open.

I think that, despite the piano lessons, the arts school and the musical stuff, my older nephew wants to be a banker or something. When you ask him what he wants to be, he says rich. Ah, six-year-olds.

Boy Kim said...

Interesting thoughts. I've never heard the term 'activities parent' before and I don't think I am, although it would seem that Youngest Princess would be considered an activities child.

She takes piano, violin and (electric) guitar lessons; she also plays recorder and penny whistle. She plays in two orchestras (town and county) and sings (well, some would call it singing but I'm not sure I would!) in the school and town choirs. She is on the school netball and kwik-cricket squads and she attends Brownies and takes riding lessons. She also loves reading, writing 9-yo poetry and would join the school chess club if there was one. All of her own choosing.

Eldest Princess on the other hand lives for reading and riding and... well, that's about it really, although she is beginning to show an interest in languages and drama. She sings beautifully, but can she be persuaded to join a choir? Damn stubborn female she is. (She did, however, sing at the Royal Albert Hall with her Junior School Choir.) And before you say it, Sandrabbit, I know exactly where she gets her stubborness from.

Oh, and YP wants to be an astronaut, a dog-walker or a scarecrow when she grows up. OP, on the other hand, wants to be a professional show-jumper who reads. All of which are perfectly fine by me.

John R. said...

I'm barely an activity individual. Getting out of bed in the morning is more than enough for me.

I suspect I won't be one for forcing my kids to do huge amounts of stuff...

Sandra Ruttan said...

John with kids... Before you jump to conclusions, I bet you'd be a great parent.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

Great post.

I let my kids explore anything their interested in within reason - music, sports, art, etc... but I honestly just want them to have a simple life.

I think there was way to much about 'making it' from my family, that I want no fame or fortune for my kids. Both gets in the way of life.

M. G. Tarquini said...

My kids do physical things. Keeps them off the chandeliers.