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Moseyin’ Along

June 25, 2015
Westfield Republican

Rushing into adulthood

During the recent coverage of graduations across the country, one memorable ceremony caught my attention.

The proud graduates, wearing bright smiles to complement their caps and gowns, stood in line, waiting to receive their certificates.

In the audience, appreciative parents snapped countless photos on their ever-present smart phones.

It was a scene every parent envisions, the graduation of their beloved children, moving on to the next challenging phase of their lives.

But, these graduates weren't leaving university for careers in the real world. They weren't even moving up from high school to college.

The youngsters were leaving behind VPK: voluntary enter the "hallowed halls" of...Kindergarten!

And sadly, when the tassels are turned on those mini-mortarboards, the munchkin-sized students will be launched into the fast lane toward adulthood.

Whatever happened to childhood?

Do you remember hopscotch, hide-n-seek, board games, ghost stories after sundown? Today's kids have no time for such activities.

As one authority put it, "The innocence of childhood is becoming a thing of the past."

Well-meaning parents, responding to pressures from the media and society in general, are pushing their little ones to read and count before they can walk. The youngsters are encouraged to outperform others in their kindergarten class. They are expected to become self sufficient, productive and disciplined at an early age.

As a result, kids who suffer the stresses of adulthood, also suffer stress-related health problems including sleep disorders and depression. Even suicide has found its way into the world of childhood.

At a recent ladies' luncheon I attended, the conversation turned to the problems caused by hurrying kids through their early years.

It seemed each member of the group had some experience with the topic. Marilyn complained that she couldn't find any clothing suitable for her 5-year-old granddaughter.

"They don't seem to make 'little girl' clothes anymore," she said. "But I found lots of short-short skirts and string bikinis as well as platform shoes."

Laura, grandma of precocious Sandy, said, "My daughter, Sandy's mother, doesn't dress like that and neither do any of the rest of the family members. But, many of the little girls in her class are wearing Britney Spears clothing, and that's all she wants."

As the discussion continued, several of the women in the group brought up the problem of the unending news coverage being watched by children every day.

"Much of what they see is negative, sensationalistic and frightening," my friend Joanne said.

The others agreed. And, as one woman noted, "Though the things they see on TV may be on the other side of the world, the kids begin to think the violence is all around them."

Although we all recognized the basic problem. that children are being hurried out of was difficult to agree on a solution.

After much discussion, Janet seemed to sum up what we all felt.

"We adults have to get back to the basics," she said. "Even though they sometimes drive us crazy, we have to let the kids be kids."

She added, "That way, when they finally reach graduation, it will actually mean something to them."



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