is NOT a problem.
is NOT a hassle.
does NOT drive me mad.
I am absolutely sick and oh so very tired of hearing negative remarks about children and young people.
Every school holiday I hear numerous parents openly telling their children that they can't wait until the schools return so they can get some peace and quiet. I switch on the radio to hear the DJ saying that she "hopes the children aren't driving you too mad" and "Don't worry, just a few more days to put up with the children before the schools return - the end of the nightmare is nigh."
Why is this ok?
I have lost count of the number of negative connotations aimed towards my children when I have been in their presence. I've had supermarket cashiers suggesting that I will be "relieved when the children go back to school" - despite those children just standing at my side causing me no stress or worry whatsoever, often these very same 'nuisance children' are even helping me to pack the shopping into bags and I'm thankful for their presence.
Callum has even had somebody openly say to his face that they bet his mum (ie. me) will be glad when he is 'out of her hair' and back in school after the holidays.
How dare they assume to know how I feel or what I want. How dare they give my child, MY child, even an inkling that his mummy may not be happy to have him around.
I'm sorry if this posting offends anyone. Actually, no I take that back. I'm not sorry at all. This is something I feel so passionately about that I'm going to stand high on my soapbox, waving my hands in the air, jumping up and down and drawing every bit of attention to me that I can, because....
CHILDREN HAVE FEELINGS TOO!!!
Children can pick up on negativity.
Children are affected by what is said (or typed) by those around them.
Children are not immune to how people feel about them.
Even throw away remarks can do damage. How would you feel if you felt that you were just a problem, a nuisance, a difficulty, an annoyance, an inconvenience?
Do people not think that children may be sensitive to such sentiments?
Children and young people are human beings. They deserve the same love and respect from us adults as we would pay our good friends. Would we tell our best friend that we can't wait until they go home as we have had enough of them or they are driving us crazy? No? I'm thinking it would be unlikely. Not even if they were totally doing our heads in with their whining and moaning, or constant chattering? I know I wouldn't. I would take deep breaths, and sit and listen, perhaps grumbling silently in my head. I wouldn't want to hurt their feelings, make them feel awkward or upset them.
Don't children deserve the same trail of thought?
Negativity surrounds our children every day. You only have to switch on Facebook to see status updates from parents whining about their children's behaviour. Turn on Twitter and parenting forums to see feeds and threads scattered with harassed parents wishing an end to what should be precious time with their children. School holidays are seen as a chore, a bother, an inconvenience by many. Recent examples I've overheard or seen online include "I don't know how teachers do it, I can't believe they actually want to spend their days with children!" and "Thank goodness it's back to school on Monday, I can't wait to have time to myself again."
Even certain TV adverts suggest that all will be much better when the kids are back in school, telling parents that they 'deserve' to treat themselves to the product they are advertising as they have just survived (?!) the school holidays. Even a FAMILY holiday advert puts forward the idea that their hotels are good ones because they offer a children's club throughout the day and evening, allowing parents time alone to relax knowing their children are catered for at all times, even offering a babysitting service throughout the night. I thought the idea of a family holiday was to spend time with each other as a family....*sigh*
Time with children should be treasured. It is a gift. Their presence should enhance our lives, not hinder our enjoyment of it.
When I walk through town with my family, I am witness to many different opinions and feelings about children. Some people smile readily at a little ones cuteness, passing comment on how happy or beautiful a child is, congratulating on good manners or behaviour. Other people tut and push past, seeing children as nothing more than a inconvenience to their day, huffing and puffing at the toddler in front of them taking their first steps in the big world. There have been times when one of my children have opened doors for 10 or 12 people to pass through and not one single person has said a word of thank you. There have been numerous occasions when one of my children have stepped into the road to allows others to stay on the pavement, or given up a seat on a bus, to receive a "I should think so too" look and no thanks.
This is not ok.
We shouldn't be treating children as second-class citizens purely because they are smaller in stature.
They have every right to be treated with the same sort of respect given to fellow adults.
Children should be welcomed into restaurants, not seen as a possible disruption to diners. I'm not talking about the child that constantly screams and screams and screams, inconsolably, giving everyone a headache and completely spoiling a quiet night out. I'm talking about the families, who want to spend time with their children and see taking them out with them as part of their life experience - their 'education' if you like. We are so behind over here with our way of thinking about children in public places compared to many countries. Take a child to Spain for example and you are welcomed almost everywhere you go, children are actively encouraged to stay out with their family, to dine with relatives young and old, it's expected. Over here we are often shoved into 'family rooms' away from other diners, these rooms aren't up to the same standard of decor and have cheap furniture for seating. You get the feeling they are expecting children to make lots of noise and make lots of mess so let's keep them out the way.
Now, before anyone shoots me down in flames, I'm not saying I'm perfect. I'm not for one minute saying that there aren't times I get frustrated, exhausted, annoyed, angry, upset and desperate for a bit of peace. There are days when my children are bickering, when they seem to know what buttons to press to gain a reaction from another and continuously insist on pressing that button over and over and over again.
Yes I shout.
Yes I yell.
Yes I whinge and whine that I'm doing the third load of washing up that morning because the children are too lazy to wash up their own breakfast dishes (aiming this at the older ones here, obviously). I get annoyed that something has been spilt and not wiped up (or me told so I can wipe it up), meaning there is some sort of sticky mess that has been walked through causing more sticky messes.
I'm a human being with limits, but...
I apologise for shouting/over-reacting/screaming/saying an un-called for remark.
My children know I'm human and that I'm vulnerable to all those human traits which curse us all at various times - tiredness, frustration, selfishness, short fuses, the list goes on and on. But once I'm calm, we talk. I apologise. I think that's important for parents - we can show our weaknesses and own up to our mistakes. But I would never make a comment that puts them down or questions their self-worth to others. I would never assume that another person will be glad to be relieved of the burden that is their children. I would never insist that another mother's life is going to improve wonderfully because their child returns to school.
I've said so much already, and I've not even touched on the remarks I receive from those that question why my children aren't in school.
I haven't yet mentioned the fact that time and time again I hear "What? Your children don't go to school??!! Oh my, I couldn't spend all day every day with my children, it would totally do my head in/drive me crazy/send me mad." This has even been said in front of their own child. My heart feels a pang of pain as I think of what that child has just heard.
Just what message are we sending out to children within our society?
That they are often deemed as a hindrance. That their presence outside of school is a burden, a problem, an issue that we count down the days to resolve.
No wonder family life is crumbling and children are turning to their peers for the support, attention and dare I say it, love that they don't feel they receive from their family unit.
Every child should feel as though they are valued. Every day spent with a child should be special. Yes we all have good and bad days, that is normal and totally ok, but we shouldn't be counting down the days until we have 'gotten rid' or telling others that school holidays are a nightmare.
I'm not for one minute suggesting that everyone should home-educate. It certainly isn't a lifestyle that would suit all, just as the school environment doesn't suit all children. I'm not accusing those that send their children to school as loving their children any less than those that don't - that would be horrendously judgemental of me. Every family needs to do what is right for them, be it education wise, for financial reasons, or for sanities sake.
What I am suggesting is that we just take a moment to ponder how it must feel to hear that your mother or father is dreading the school holidays, or wishes the holidays would end as they have had enough of your company. That can't be nice for anyone to hear can it?