They learn young

My middle son lamented tonight that there’s never enough time. He was disappointed that, as my wife, daughter, and I had gone to an orientation for the middle school my daughter will be attending next year, there wasn’t enough time left after we got home for me to read to the kids before bed. I just started reading them some Warhammer fan-fic I wrote about a decade ago, and my son is hooked, evidently.

I understand his frustration. I think we all do. It seems like there is always much more to do than there is time to do it, let alone things we want to do. I wanted to work on my novel last night, but I needed to fix a leaky sink instead. I want to finish a storage cabinet for my hobby stuff, but by the time I get free time in the evening it’s too late to be using power tools. The kids need sleep.

At work my colleagues are complaining about having too many meetings and not enough time to get actual work done. My wife complains about not having enough time to sleep. My children all complain of never having enough time to play or do the other activities they would like.

I suppose the real question, though, is whether there really isn’t enough time or if we just want to cram too much into the time we have. I read about the schedules that youth in Japan keep, for example, and I feel like I don’t have things so bad after all. But then I read about the work-weeks in some European countries, and how much vacation time they get every year, and I wonder how those countries get anything done.

There are always going to be people busier than we are, and people who have it easier than we do. In the end we all have to find the balance that works for us, I guess. Don’t ask me where that is. I don’t even know what works for me. Sometimes I feel more ambitious and can knock out quite a few of the “Gotta Do” items on my list before taking a little time to relax. Other times it seems like I just don’t have the energy to do anything other than just get through the day. Other days I find the energy simply because I know I have to.

I have to admit I wish my kids had more time to just be kids. I don’t recall having anywhere near the homework they have these days. It was depressing to learn tonight that already my daughter must start making decisions that will affect her ability to get scholarships in college. She’s a SIXTH GRADER! I thought no one started keeping score until you hit high school.

I really don’t get it. We teach our children more and more, and yet they continue to perform lower and lower. It makes me wonder if we’re really teaching them the right things. If we compare our system to that of Finland, I’d have to say no. Why is it some of the most brilliant minds of our generation are college dropouts? What does that say about what we teach compared to what we need to know?

My son is struggling this year with his reading homework. READING! Why? Because his teacher requires each kid to fill out a form each night giving a summary of what they read and writing a “personal response” to that reading. Those personal response entries have been the cause of much grief this year. We do what we can to get him to do it, but out of earshot we can only agree–it’s a stupid bit of extra work that is killing his natural desire to read. He’s a fourth grader, and he’s read all the Harry Potter books several times through. He read at least one book of The Lord of the Rings this year, too. Reading is not a problem for him. But with the required paperwork, it could become so.

Sometimes I wish they’d just leave our kids alone and let them be kids. It’s bad enough that there’s never enough time when you’re an adult. There should never be too little childhood left to be a child. Is it any wonder we seem to be ending up with a generation of perpetual kids? They never have enough time to get tired of it before people are making them grow up. It’s the new rebellion–you can make me to adult things, but you can’t make be act like an adult.

Yeah, I should probably stop venting and go do something productive. The dog needs her play-time. I wouldn’t mind a little myself.