the rush? We shouldn't fast-forward through childhood
By Corey D Clawson
September 22, 2006 | Laughter charges with the anxiety
of another closing school day as the children glance
at the clock. Youthful imagination -- watercolors entitled
"My Thanksgiving Vacation" and "How do I feel today?"
-- wallpapers an otherwise bland fifth-grade classroom.
The classroom provides children with experiences preparing
them for the world. However, too often children are
encouraged to forget this idyllic time and grow up too
Returning for one moment to that classroom, we find
another exhibit -- one of firefighters dousing flames,
sopranos singing to sold-out audiences, sports stars
making impossible plays and even astronauts battling
space creatures -- entitled, "When I grow up..." One
creation sticks out, however: a simple man doodling
something at his desk and an explanation at the bottom:
Editorial Cartoonist. I drew that one.
Fascinated by the world around me and encouraged by
my parents, I read daily the editorials page inspiring
me to produce a series of 20 well-received cartoons
entitled Clinton Babies -- a cross between the Clinton
Administration and Muppet Babies.
Reflecting on this growing trend of kids growing up
faster and faster as well as this and other experiences,
I asked, "Did I grow up too fast?" Yes. A bit. This
experience illustrates the beginning of growing trend.
Today, most kids have four or more different activities
during the week. As a piano teacher, it has become difficult
for my mother to meet the scheduling needs of many families.
"Can we schedule Nathan's lesson for Tuesdays after
"No, he has scouts."
"How about Saturdays at two."
"Nope, book club."
"What about Thursday or Friday nights?"
One family with an 8 and a 10-year-old could only
have piano lessons at 7:00 in the morning because of
school, swim practice, jogging, among other endeavors.
Activities, both planned and unplanned, provide children
a foundation for their future. However, often parents
and even society itself loses sight of this by monopolizing
children's time and forgetting the spontaneity and imagination
In junior high "Future Planning" meetings, teachers
and parents helped map our futures as students. When
my turn came, I was excited with the possibilities and
the greater freedom to choose classes for my sophomore
year. However, it turned out much differently than expected.
Upon entering the cold, sterile classroom full of stone-topped
tables my excitement was sapped. Sitting at the other
side of the table, a just-out-of-college biology teacher
sat trembling slightly, his sweaty palmprints left the
table as he stood up to greet us. I had never met the
man, nor have I spoken to him since. Hesitantly, he
explained the process as if reading from the forms he
was about to hand me. "This is a list of classes offered
and here is your Future Planning sheet. You have five
minutes to fill it out. It has instructions and diagrams
to help you make some very important decisions -- decisions
that will affect the REST OF YOUR LIFE."
Those words stuck out. In five minutes, I was supposed
to plan my entire future? I quickly skimmed the sheet.
Included were questions about future careers and a diagram
to map out every class that I would take until I was
to graduate from high school. At the bottom were references
to college websites and such.
We asked a few important questions about these classes
and what lied ahead; however, the panicky teacher merely
shuffled his free papers as my father privately shot
me a look. "That was a waste of time." I smirked quietly
"Almost done?" the teacher chimed in.
Passing the next student and his mother, my father
sighed and looked to the mother, saying silently and
sarcastically, "Have fun."
Kids these days should not be expected to make huge
choices or be so responsible. Certain needs just aren't
met with jam-packed schedules and hastily made decisions.
We can only expect them to be what they truly are: kids.