Several years ago, I read an article written by Bunmi Laditon entitled ‘I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical’! I shared parts of it with the CGS community back then and I feel inspired to share it once again especially as we embark on a summer that finds the world opening again and many of us back into the cycle of planning, planning and more planning.
In her submission to The Huffington Post, Ms. Laditon contrasted her own childhood to that of her children. She wondered how it happened that modern parents put so much pressure on themselves to manufacture the perfect childhood for their children? She found herself completely caught up in the parenting model which mandates that it is a parent’s job to research, and then execute, perfect life experiences for their children. From the “best” play dates and birthday parties, to family vacations and room decoration, Laditon found herself exhausted from all that it takes to keep this lifestyle going. Lost in her stupor of perfect parenting, it suddenly dawned on her that parents do not need to make their children’s childhood magical. In fact, childhood is inherently magical, even when it isn’t perfect.
I am sure that many of us can relate to what Laditon was saying. I certainly do not remember my parents ever playing with me and since money was very tight in our household, my Dad used to tease that we would be going to ‘Porch Lake’ for our summer vacation…and he wasn’t kidding either! I never went to camp, and I cannot remember my Mom ever planning or helping me with a craft. Nonetheless I have very fond memories of childhood summers where tents were made from blankets, lemonade stands were a regular means of earning a few cents for trips to the corner store and putting on a bathing suit and running through a garden sprinkler was pure joy.
Does this lack of involvement in our daily summer schedule mean that our parents loved us any less than today’s generation of parents love their children? Absolutely not. Our parents just did not feel responsible to orchestrate and manufacture our childhood memories. They seemed to instinctively know it would just happen. And indeed, it did!
Laditon asked her readers ‘Are we creating a generation of people who cannot find the beauty in the mundane? Do we want to teach our children that the magic of life is something that comes beautifully wrapped? Or that magic is something you discover on your own?’ Something to really think about, especially coming fresh off a 2.5 year hiatus from manufactured fun. We could not manufacture much during the pandemic, yet I think you would all agree with me that we saw many magical moments taking place in our homes and schools. Lots of beauty was found in the mundane and I sincerely hope this will not be forgotten.
I am not suggesting that we abandon the well-planned family vacation or the beautifully turned-out birthday party, but this summer, when we are trying to keep our children wonderfully and magically amused, maybe we should just keep in mind that, for the average child, wonder and magic is something inherent to their age. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is magical on it’s own, plain and simple.
Wishing you all a summer full of carefree fun, laughter, and magical moments. And while you are at it, leave some of the planning and creating to the children. This is one area where they really do know best. There you go, the pressure is off!