I rode my bike with friends until dusk, played jump rope on the street and caught minnows at a local pond. I had play clothes, and scraped knees...got dirty and stinky and messy.
I was a kid. And so were all the other kids. Summer evenings were kid paradise. Everyone was out in their yard, and as the evening progressed, the mingling would begin. If you didn't happen to be outside, kids would come to the door and ask your parents if you could go out to play. Handstands in the yard. Cartwheels. Lightning bugs in jars.
These days, kids play video games, chat on the computer and talk on their cellphones. If they have time, that is...between all of their extra-curricular activities. Ballet, soccer, piano, language classes, gymnastics and tutoring.
Free range kids are scarce. Summer is a hushed affair because the kids are all at swimming, or hockey camp. Preparing their portfolios for who the hell knows what. Organizing the contacts on their Blackberries.
It is the age of the hyper-parent...parents that circle over their children like blackhawk helicopters, bent on giving their offspring everything they didn't have themselves. 4 year old children are playing soccer in competitive leagues and going to tutoring so that they can get into private school. 10 year old children are writing the cover letters for their Harvard applications. Some of the parental pioneers of this phenomenon are even calling their bright, shiny offspring's boss to complain about salary, or a bad performance review.
Children no longer seem to play outside unless they are with their parents...on a guided, educational bike tour of the neighborhood.
Now, I will admit that I plan to do flashcards with Jude to give him a good basis in reading and spelling. I would also like to try signing, even though he already has a very effective way of communicating exactly what he wants.
But, if he fails, he fails. I don't care what school he gets into, or whether he is smarter or better than the other children his age. His childhood will not be a competition, or a race. He will have play clothes, climb trees and get dirty. Extra curricular activities will be his choice, not mine...and they will not be based on where they will get him in the future. Only on how much fun he will have doing them.
Sure, he will likely be in the band at school...and if he is anything like me, he will join every choir possible and secretly hope for singing lessons. So be it.
Jude will be Jude...not my version of Jude.
How could this child be anything short of amazing? How could any child?