Sunday, 1 August 2010

"It was a dark and stormy night....

yes, picture young Snoopy hunched earnestly over his typewriter working away....
A young visitor, waiting for her father, pulled out an old Snoopy book my sister gave me when we were both in our teens. She looked at it and then said, "Why doesn't he use a computer?"
I had to explain that, when the comic strip was first written, computers were virtually unknown.
"Really?"
She put the book back without reading it. (A quite different reaction from the Whirlwind who would find such a book even more interesting.)
"Can I watch TV?" she asked me.
"With all those books to look at?"
"Don't like reading."
"You don't? Whyever not?"
"It's boring."
"Boring?"
She shrugged.
"Well what do you do at home?"
"Stuff. It's like boring you know."
"Well, what do you like doing?"
"I dunno. I have to do a load of stuff."
"Like what?"
"Well I have ballet on Monday and netball on Tuesday and swimming on Wednesday..."
The litany went on. It would seem that most of her free time is organised for her. If she is not doing that then she talks to friends, sends texts messages and thinks about growing up (to be a teenager).
Ballet on Monday? I haul out a copy of "Ballet Shoes" and say, "Well here's something about three girls who did ballet. The BBC made a film out of it."
She shrugs, slumps in a chair and starts to read. Silence.
Her father returns from doing whatever he was doing in my father's shed. He looks at her. He looks at me. He shrugs. She shrugs. She hands the book back to me.
"You can borrow it if you like," I suggest.
She shakes her head.
"Don't like reading. I have too much stuff to do."
"Yeah, my wife has something arranged for every day of the week," her father says. I have the feeling it is an issue between them. This child needs some time in her life, time to discover the pleasures of reading and choosing her own occupations.
I think she might just have "too much stuff" to do.

4 comments:

Rachel Fenton said...

didn't you have another young acquaintance who was stuffed to the eyeballs with activities? It seems to be the popular form of child care - send them off to every club going regardless of whether they'll like it or not. I get criticism for not taking my son to rhyme time/toddler group - he hates rabble. Much prefers a day rummaging in the garden or a walk to the park and then socialising on his own terms at the school field, waiting for my daughter to finish school. Does no one take the time to get to know their kids?

catdownunder said...

More than one Rachel - but this one had "Attitude". I was not impressed - because I have a suspicion that she might actually have liked to read the book but did not want to admit it.
There are far too many children around here who have multiple after school and weekend activities. I think some of those activities are for the vicarious benefit of their parents. Your son is quite possibly better off - after all he still gets rhymes and reading with you and the chance to socialise on his terms!

Rachel Fenton said...

I was thinking some more about possible reasons why parents would want their kids enrolled in as many activities as possible, too, but all I could come up with was that they would like to show they could afford to - else feeling they were a bad/unsuccessful (read that two ways) parent not to offer as many opportunities/activities as possible. Two sides of one coin, really.


I can understand wanting to let children try as many different activities as possible - help them find interests and things they may excel at or enjoy, but I don't see how they can gain enjoyment from being fagged out by the thought of an activity - even one so low energy as reading!

Sheep Rustler said...

I get rather angry about children who have so many things organised for them that they have no time to 'be'. My children have never been brought up like this, though my daughter, especially, was encouraged to try out activities until she found music, which rapidly became her all-consuming passion. My children are never without a book and, like me, always have at least one in any bag they carry. And time to read - whether it be in bed, on a bus, or at lunchtime at school. Too many parents underestimate a child's ability to amuse itself if given the chance. Of course when both parents work long hours I think they often feel guilty and provide all these expensive activities as a sop to their own consciences, too.