Spring Break is winding up in our neck of the woods, and it brings up a pet peeve I’ve written about before: messages in popular culture that suggest children are an annoyance, or a burden, more than integral parts of our families and society.
Of course, I understand that a week at home with kids one usually sends off to school can disrupt orderly routines. It requires scrambling for babysitters or fun activities to fill unaccustomed hours. That presents an element of inconvenience, especially for those who can’t take the same days off of work to spend time relaxing with the freed children.
The disconnect between today’s school calendars and the dual working parent/single parent households that make up most American families doesn’t make the children themselves the problem.
Try to find a moment to tell your kids so, even if you think they’ll roll their eyes or believe you’ve gone batty. It’s good for them to hear it said.
It’s good for us to say it, too.
It’s easy to get caught up in life’s buffeting winds of distractions and disappointments. Kids are beholden to us adults for everything: shelter, food, toys, and a sense of where they stand in the world. Don’t forget that last bit in the struggle to optimize the tangible needs.
I tell my kids I love them, but I also say how much I like them for who they are, no matter how different from me, and even when* those differences cause us to disagree.
They’ve heard me get angry at “back to school” sale ads that suggest parents rejoice once the brats are out of their hair. I reject those offensive notions, and I tell my kids so. Kids deserve better than that, just because they’re human beings, and even when their vacation weeks disrupt our schedules.
Spring Break this year at our house did include my sending them out to dinner and a movie with Grandma so that a group of moms could join me for a ladies’ literature evening. I know I’m fortunate to have willing family members available to give me a few hours off; I’m grateful for that.
My mom did bring our young friend, The Scholar†, along for the evening together with my boys. Since The Scholar’s mother wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise, this was a gracious favor on Mom’s part.
That brings up one other option for showing kids during school breaks that they are valued by caring adults: make the offer to help another parent fill some of those hours if you’ve got a bit more bandwidth free.
Children thrive when a variety of adults show them consideration and make time for them. Society thrives when all of our children are well cared for.
I’m not sure it’s the village that matters; I think it’s all about the tribe.
It’s amazing how tiny an effort can make the world a better place for someone else. I live in certainty that every child deserves at least that much.
*Not so much during a fight, say, do I remember to be so gracious, but I try to get the message across the rest of the time, so the good things overwhelm family squabbles. I’m no saint!
**She’s another home educated child whom I tutor in math because my talents differ from those of her mother.