Saturday, March 11, 2017

things kids should do as kids

i keep seeing this piece about things that kids should do by themselves before they turn 13 circulating on facebook. and while it's all well and good that kids do their own homework and can make their own lunch (i really should have enforced that one) and set their own alarms, i feel like it's kind of a careful and tentative list and a little self-serving for the parents. and who the hell doesn't talk to the teacher when it's necessary or help with homework? that's just lazy, it seems to me.

my child is 16 now, but when i think back to the things she did before she was 13, i could add a number of things to the list:

~ fly somewhere alone. when she was 7, we sent the child to the states for the summer. of course, we paid the unaccompanied minor fee to sas, and i delivered her to the gate in copenhagen and my sister was waiting for her outside customs in chicago, but she did an 8 hour flight by herself. she had to entertain herself, excuse herself to go to the bathroom, tell the stewardesses what she wanted to drink and mess with that infernal onboard entertainment system on her own. it wasn't her first time on a plane, so she was already a routine traveler and knew how it worked, but it was still a big step. and she did it with flying colors, also flying home again on her own at the end of the summer.

~ have secrets. we all need something that's our own, that we maybe share with a friend, but not necessarily our parents. a couple of summers ago, we were walking down a creek that flows behind our property and the child and her best friend were reminiscing about a time that they ran scared from some aggressive swans at a little lake that you come to, some ways down the creek. i knew they had played down there, but not that they'd had a bit of an exciting experience, nor that they had walked as far up the creek as they had. it made them strong and brave and gave them something they had together that wasn't anyone else's.

~ eat food you planted and picked yourself in a garden. our child has grown up picking strawberries, popping a warm, sweet cherry tomato, picked directly from the greenhouse into her mouth, sifting through soil after freshly-dug potatoes. she knows where food comes from and how it tastes different and much better than what you buy in the store. she has spent time helping me pick countless little tiny violets so we could make a vivid purple cordial that we mixed with fizzy water and enjoyed on a hot summer day.

~ make the child use public transport. to get to school, to get to a movie, to get to her friends, to get to a party. buy a travel card and know how to use it. to find her way to the brandy melville at sloane square in london, leading the way for a group of her friends. to get herself around london. and copenhagen. and st. petersburg. know how to read a metro map. and figure out how to get on the metro in the right direction. these are important steps to adulting.

~ eat sushi. the child should learn to eat sushi. early and often. mine started at age two and a half. and at about 4, she woke up briefly in a restaurant in manila, ate her weight in sashimi and then fell back asleep. i'm pretty proud of that.

and if i expand the age range to 15, there are a couple more...

~ be part of a major protest for a worthy cause. i will be eternally grateful to my strong female cousins for the idea that we would head for the women's march in washington, d.c. and i am so happy to have shared the experience with my 15-year-old child. now she knows the energy of half a million women and people and her father who support women on her own body and mind and psyche. it strikes me as one of my strongest parenting moments.

~ know the difference between good makeup and drugstore makeup. yes, this is a girl thing, but it's important in today's world. and some drugstore makeup is good, but you can't know which unless you've tried it and also tried the good stuff. (and yes, maybe i am justifying buying my child chanel foundation. but that doesn't make it any less important.)

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very cool, evocative photos of small town america.
and he even used flash! or maybe just lit them up at night.

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what a cool story. goes off to buy a metal detector.

1 comment:

Molly said...

When I was 13 I got myself up for a year while my parents and younger brothers slept on (the next year the routine changed), had breakfast and walked to the bus stop. I remember a lot about that year but I don't remember feeling resentful. I remember enjoying the quiet.
However, I rejected that list when I found out her boys were trips. Raising multiples is a totally different scenario to a family of 2 or more kids in different stages.