Have you ever thought to yourself . . . 'When I was a child I would never have talked back to my teachers', or, 'When I was a child I was happy to have an empty cardboard box to play with!', or even, 'When I was a child I used to play with the other kids in the neighborhood and wouldn't come home till dark'. ????
As I teacher I have often thought to myself and 'vented' to my teacher friends that I would never have even thought about saying 'no' to my teacher, or throwing a chair at them or swearing at them!
Of course, when I was a child I was taught by the nuns at a Catholic school and would cop the hard end of the feather duster for daring to talk in class. My leather shoes were always shiny and I took a good old Vegemite sandwich and a piece of fruit to school for lunch. If I was really lucky, sometimes I got to share it with the ants that sheltered in my school port ;o)
Now, when my Dad was a child, (of migrant parents from Greece), he got to go to school because he was a lucky kid. It was a luxury and not a right and most kids saw it that way. The ones who didn't fit in had jobs by the time they reached year 7 or 8 and if you were a girl you really weren't expected to finish primary school much less high school to year 10!
There were trades for these kids to learn, jobs for them to do before and after school, not for pocket money, but to help the family survive.
I think Dad finished year 10 but he always pushed himself to work and ended up managing many businesses (including his own) before society deemed it necessary to have a bit of paper from university to say you could do something you had absolutely no experience in.
The kids growing up today seem to be doing so at an increasingly fast pace. Little bras and 'panties' for 4 year olds and bikinis for young girls! Shorty-short shorts, (you know the ones I mean) and skirts for girls and make up kits, shoes with heels and provocative tops. The boys are encouraged to play violent games, (yes, Cops and Robbers and Cowboys and Indians were violent, but there were wooden guns, not semi automatic plastic machine guns!), they are styled to dress like they woke up in what they are wearing and the hair! Don't even get me started on the I-haven't-brushed-my-hair-for-a-month look that takes about 45 mins to perfect!
The movies the kids are exposed to, even just the previews on the TV are enough to make them nag and beg until the parents are taking their 7 year old kids to see movies like SAW and the Date Movie, both highly inappropriate for anyone under the age of 16.
So, why I'm I on about this? Have you wondered why kids end up in care? Yes there are hundreds of different reasons, from kids having babies, to abuse, neglect, cyclical care where the parents were in care and now their children are in care and yet they have more kids.
What can we do? Pretty much nothing. We can't help the parent who is taking their young kids to see inappropriate movies, we can't even help that particular child. What we can do is look after our own kids. Help our friends and relatives who may be struggling with day to day family life. Have a sleepover roster with a couple of families so one couple gets a whole night to themselves once a month. Talk to eachother, talk to your kids about the ads they watch on the telly that are a bit much, (like the new Crunchy Nut Cornflakes ad! I love it, but it took a bit of explaining to the kids we had at the time that it was a joke).
If we talk to our kids the way we would like to be spoken too (still remembering that the parents have the final say), they will talk to their kids like that. They may even be able to make friends with some of the kids at school that are deemed strange or weird because they have learned tolerance and compassion from you.
I guess there is no particular point to this blog. I have just been thinking about what childhood means these days and how much harder it is to be one. You couldn't give me enough money to go back and do it all again in this day and age. I was lucky to have a happy childhood with no major traumas, a loving family and extended family and it really does hurt to see kids who don't have any of these things.
What is your favourite childhood memory?