Saturday, February 27, 2010

Go outside and play

posted Sat, 26 Nov 2005

It's time to indulge in my favorite hobby -- talking about how children are being raised incorrectly. (Reared? I'm not sure of the proper usage of those words, unlike compose and comprise. I've heard you raise tomatoes and rear children, but the American College Dictionary allows us to raise children. I have no doubt, however, about "comprise" and "compose," although the rest of the world, including my local newspaper, does. The United States comprises 50 states. It is not "is comprised of" 50 states. OK? "Comprise" means "consists of." Everyone got that? Good.)

Back to children. Yes, I know I have no children. Some people would say that means my opinion about how children should be reared should not be valid.

Leigh said, "Zack, did you know that Miss Class Factotum didn't even have a TV when she was a little girl? Can you imagine that? She had to entertain herself!" He was unimpressed and, apparently, unmotivated.
Photo credit: The Big Factotum

Hogwash. Does a doctor have to have cancer to know how to treat it? Does a veterinarian have to be a horse to know how to treat one? My advantage over both of these is that I have actually been a child.

At Thanksgiving, one of the several children -- let's call him "Zack" -- was watching some kids' show on the TV in the living room. Leigh noticed the adults in the room were not enchanted with the show. As hostess, she has the responsibility to make sure all her guests are entertained. She changed the channel to a football game. Immediately, the men perked up. She and I went into the kitchen, where she worried that she might not have done the right thing. Of course she had -- It's Thanksgiving and adults get precedence over children. It's simple.

Zack's mother carried him into the kitchen. Zack, who is seven, looked like that cat in Charlie Brown -- he was draped over his mother's arms as if he had no bones.

"Is there another TV in the house where Zack could watch cartoons?" she asked.

"I'm sorry," Leigh said, "but that's the only TV."

"Do you maybe have some children's DVDs he could watch on his portable DVD player?" she asked.

Meanwhile, Zack continued to whine and pout.

Leigh went into the living room to look. She pulled out Lawrence of Arabia. "How about this?" she asked.

"Leigh!" I said. "That's not a children's movie!"

"Oh," she said. "I've never watched it."

Zack spent the entire afternoon crying and whining in his mother's arms while the other children -- his age -- played in the back yard with a friendly German shepherd who was thrilled to have kids around. There was also a baby of 11 months who is just starting to walk, an adult who was happy to draw cars and monsters and tell stories, a grandpa who can recite very cool poems ("The Cremation of Sam Magee") and a three-story house with front and back stairs, a gazebo, two stone lions on the front porch and all sorts of nooks and crannies. It's a pretty sad day when the only thing that this kid could think of to entertain himself was TV. It's really sad that the mother probably knew this and didn't come prepared. It's really, really sad that she indulges this behavior at all.

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