Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - April 25, 2002
Have we gone nuts?
Last week, a friend told me that she was trying to plan her family's summer vacation. Her oldest son, who will be in high school next year, wants to play football. Conditioning and other types of training for the football players have been scheduled from the end of this school year to the beginning of next school year, so she wasn't sure when they might be able to squeeze in a week for a family trip or even time to hang out at home.
A few weeks ago I saw an item on television and an article in the newspaper about a community in New Jersey which had designated one night in the annual school calendar a "family night." The town, described as being filled with affluent and competitive people, received national attention because it took a committee of 18 people seven months and six meetings to find one night - not one night a week, but one night - that they could designate as "family night." It was a night without soccer, band, ballet lessons or other extracurricular activities. One woman who was interviewed was concerned that she wouldn't know what to do with her kids for that night. She wondered if she could have a list of suggested activities to do with them.
Have we gone nuts?!
Once upon a time we planned activities. Now, it appears some of us need to plan our breaks from those activities.
Count me out. I don't need a committee to tell me what I already know - that it's OK to let kids entertain themselves once in awhile and it's OK if they occasionally complain about boredom.
Several years ago my husband read an article by the retiring president of a large university in the East. The university president commented that in our rush to make our children "well-rounded," we have lost sight of the fact that time to digest and reflect on what we have learned is an essential part of maturation.
I'm glad that the Riley County school system schedules Wednesday as family night - every week. It doesn't matter whether families use that night for church activities or watching TV or sitting outside watching the sunset. It's a necessary break in a sometimes moving-too-fast world.
Last week my husband and I were watching a television program about survivors of a Nazi concentration camp. One of the men was sitting with his daughter and, as they spoke, his daughter mentioned how her father had made her life so busy and full that she felt she never really got to know him. In response, he said he was only trying to give her all the things he had missed out on. What she had missed out on was her family. I wonder how many of us make that same mistake.