I think when we’re talking about today’s children we need to rein in the adjectives.
Their achievements are lovely to witness, but are they really ‘awesome’ ?
Finishing one’s fruit is admirable, but it hardly inspires awe. ‘Well done,’ should suffice, surely.
Similarly, I think our ‘hearts break’ too often for children who live pretty bloody well. It makes kids think they’ve got something to worry about. And in the majority of cases they don’t.
You hear it all the time, ‘I felt so sorry for my Laura last week,’ said one mum, ‘She was put in a gym class with not one other child she knows, and when I called to ask if they could put her in another class, they said no way! Now Laura doesn’t want to do gym at all, poor love.’
Or this, ‘My heart breaks for that little Josh in 3B. Such a talented runner, but his parents won’t let him train for regionals because they work until 6 and can’t get him to the after-school meets. Such a shame.’
Chances are Laura and Josh will be fine. It all depends on how the adults around them carry on. Or don’t.
Of course, there are kids who have a miserable existence, even in Australia, and I my heart breaks for them. Kids who are abused, neglected, sick, injured, bullied, hurt or grieving. I’m sad for kids who don’t have enough to eat or a safe place to sleep. They deserve our compassion, attention and money. More of it than they’re getting now. I feel sorry for them.
On the flipside, I don’t feel sorry for kids who:
1. Don’t have a parent at the sidelines at netty every week.
2. Are bored because they’re the cleverest in their class.
3. Struggle with times tables.
4. Aren’t allowed to keep pets.
5. Have parents who work full-time.
6. Have parents who stay at home.
7. Go to daycare.
8. Have a nanny.
9. Go to a school with no music program.
10. Have Tiny Teddies in their lunchbox.
11. Have never had a Happy Meal.
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12. Have to sit NAPLAN.
13. Have mothers who dress them in daggy clothes.
14. Have tuckshop every day.
15. Aren’t allowed on Facebook.
16. Are all over on Facebook.
17. Haven’t been taught to cook.
18. Speak only English.
19. Share a bedroom.
20. Are made to go to church.
21. Are raised as atheists.
22. Move house every few years.
23. Have the same address until they’re 30.
24. Missed out on a party invitation.
25. Are forced to go to the sports carnival when they hate sport.
26. Are relegated to the chorus in the school musical even though they are, clearly, a fabulous singer.
27. Have no brothers or sisters.
28. Have a dozen siblings.
29. Aren’t allowed to listen to Beyonce.
30. Are forced to listen to Bob Dylan.
31. Have a name I can’t spell.
32. Live in an apartment.
33. Are home-schooled (although I do feel for their parents)
34. Have never milked a cow.
35. Aren’t allowed TV or internet.
36. Have celebrity parents.
37. Play five different sports.
38. Play no sport.
39. Doesn’t like her teacher.
40. Isn’t liked by her teacher.
All those things are issues, sure. But they’re not necessarily the end to life as we know it. All kids suffer disappointment. The kid who’s rubbish at swimming might be a star at spelling. The kid with the twenty four siblings might not get one-on-one storytime, but they’re probably not lonely on weekends.
We never know what goes on in another family’s life so ‘feeling sorry’ for someone else’s kid is a veiled way of saying, ‘they aren’t quite as good as we are.’ Chances are they’re rocking along just fine.
And feeling sorry for our own kids when we know they’re loved and safe is just making parenting harder than it needs to be. And mostly, it’s awesome.
Do you think we waste time and energy feeling sorry for our kids?
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