Parenting Children -- Theft Of Imagination!

Parenting children that have a vivid imagination can seem as though they are lazy. No matter how that child has they are always bored, have you ever stopped to ask your self why?

I'm bored...there's nothing to do! How many times have you heard these famous words?

"I'm bored!"

"There's nothing to do!"

These words seem to be popping up more and more and it is something that needs to be stopped. It sometimes seems that no matter how many toys the children have those words ring out day after day. Have you ever stopped to ask your self why? I sat down one day and began looking at my life. I thought back to days of grade school, summer vacations from school and just what did we do as children growing up in the 50's and 60's? What kept us from saying, "I'm bored, and there's nothing to do!"

We had toys, cap guns, trucks, cars, blocks, dolls, paper dolls, comics, ah yes, lots of comics, coloring books, and all the other toys and playthings that most kids had. We had a sandpile, our sandpile was a tractor tire next to the apple tree and it was full of cars and trucks. You could hardly see the sand. Well okay you could see the sand and we didn't have that many cars and trucks, but it was a place where we spent hours day after day. Our swingset was made out of wood, hand cut and hand built. Yes they have wooden ones today, but I've been on a few of them and they don't hold a candle to the one my dad put together for us. All the wood and materials came straight from the lumberyard nothing was precut or preformed.

During Summer and Fall we had a yard full of snacks--rhubarb, grapes, strawberries, apples, carrots, peas, beans, tomatoes, and it seemed every other window had a pie or cake cooling in it. And you could always smell cookies baking somewhere. Yes, I lived in a small town, 453 people when every one was home, but these things I speak of were in the larger towns also back then. It was just a way of life! No one was bored everyone had something to do.

So, as I sat thinking back, I could not remember ever having a boring moment. We would play tag, swim, and fish, fly kites, play ball, go to the school playground and play on the equipment. We would play catch, hide-n-seek, pom-pom pull away, red rover, and so many other things. We even had an outside roller skating rink. We used the greatest gift God had given--an imagination full of joy, surprise and love. I cannot remember ever not having something to do.

We read books with paper pages, instead of kilobytes, we wrote in notebooks with spiral bindings instead of batteries and electrical cords. We watched Ed Sullivan's variety show, and laughed along with Lucy, Andy, the Beaver, and cheered as Matt Dillon and the Virginian took care of the bad guys without graphic visual special effects. We laughed when Ralph Kramden shouted out, "To the moon Alice." And we danced in the living room watching American Bandstand and we understood every word of every song. We mowed the yard with a mower without a motor. We mowed the neighbors yard and either got a freshly baked cookie or a dime. We raked leaves and enjoyed it. We sat on benches on the sidewalks down town and enjoyed listening to the stories of the old timers. We enjoyed life!

The word "bored" when heard not read usually meant a piece of wood for building. "There's nothing to do," was a phrase that just wasn't heard. From the moment we woke in the morning our minds were going and our time was spent building, playing, fishing, running, swimming, helping and sharing of our self with all those around us. We actually didn't have enough time in the day to play all the games we wanted to play. There was so much to do. Life was simpler yet, so full of joy and love even if there was nothing to do at some moment or other I guess we seldom noticed it.

So what has happened you might ask? I personally believe that what has happened is something that generally would be classified as a crime--theft of imagination! I believe children over the last 25 years or so have been robbed of their imagination. The use of the imagination to wile away the hours have been taken away and labeled as ADD or ADHA. Daydreaming has been replaced with medication. Learning by sight, or hearing, or hands on has been replaced with special learning classes. If you cannot learn the way we now teach we don't have time for you in the regular class, you go to this class until you learn things the same way others do.

Look it up on the computer has replaced the words, go to the library and check out a book. Go play a video game has replaced let's go play hide-n-seek. Let's go rent a movie has replaced going to the movies (of course with the cost of movies today that's not totally bad) and going for a swim costs money now because the rivers are to polluted to swim in. That's right, we used to swim in the river. Everyone did. And we didn't need suits either.

Today picking an apple from the neighbor's apple tree could result in the police knocking on your door. Grabbing a snack from the yard just doesn't happen that much anymore even when the snacks are there. Why? Because no one does that anymore, it's not cool, if you don't buy it at the store I'm not eating it. Used to be snacks from the store were a luxury, now in the eyes of many children and adults they are a necessity of life instead of freshly grown fruits and vegetables being the necessity.

Video games, VCR's, Computers, Color TV's, gadgets and gizmos, ten times the number of toys I had as a child, and yet you hear these famous words:

"I'm bored!"

"There's nothing to do!"

If you want to remove those words from your child's vocabulary, then start by gradually removing some of the gadgets and gizmos they have and start helping them develop an imagination. Become active in their school and the administrative areas of their school. Start asking questions about why it is no longer okay for a child to dream. Daydreaming is a lost art, creative writers daydream. Start asking why it is no longer okay for a child to have a vivid imagination. Start asking why it is no longer okay for a child to learn by seeing instead of hearing. Start asking why a pill is needed to stop your child from being a wiggle worm. Ask why a pill is needed to control your child's staring out the window. That used to be called daydreaming and was acceptable. Start asking why children are told to play video games or go to the computer instead of playing tag or picking up a paperback and reading. Or how about going to the Library for a book?

I'm not against advancement, I'm not against computers, I'm using one now and think they are fantastic, but not when all the advancement and electronic gadgets and medical scapegoats take away the imagination and childhood of our children. It used to be when a child had trouble reading the teacher sat down and tried a couple other methods of learning until they discovered what that child needed. Now they take the child to a doctor and try to fix the head with pills or therapy. We really don't have the extra time, resources and teachers.

We are drifting rapidly towards disaster. Teachers today have between 15 to 25 students in a classroom. Teachers in the 50's and 60's had 15 to 25 students in a classroom. Teachers today have one or two assistants. Teachers in the 50's and 60's had no assistants. It would take five days of today's homework to equal one day's worth of homework from when I was in grade school. When I passed from the 1st grade into the 2nd grade I actually knew everything necessary to pass. Do all of our kids know that today? Or are they just being pushed forward to pacify mom or dad. Or are they just being passed to the next grade to pacify the system. If I didn't have all the skills necessary I was held back. Today some of our kids enter their freshman year of college not knowing how to read or write. I've had teachers of grade school children confide in me that they were so thankful for computers because their spelling ability was at about the 9th grade level. These are people that have a BA in Education. A teacher for a 1st grade class in the 50's or 60's could probably have also taught a high school class without problem. Today many of the grade school teachers or elementary teachers could be hard pressed to teach a high school class. Not all of them, but quite a few.

"I'm bored, there's nothing to do!" Stimulate the minds of your children before there truly is nothing to do. Get involved with the education process in our area. And by all means, do not just let your child be drugged because the school thinks they need it. Let the drug be the imagination. Get involved folks! Let's give our kids back their imaginations.

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