Slow Down

By Melodee

Life is not a race. So, why are so many mothers I know in such a hurry to enroll their three and four-year old children in school? Why does a four-year old need to write his name? What is the big rush?

For the typical pregnant woman, the starting flag begins waving the second the doctor insists on an ultrasound to “date” the pregnancy because God forbid a baby should just arrive on its own terms. It’s all about shaving off the final weeks of pregnancy and inducing the baby to be born for the convenience of the doctor so he can be home before the sun sets on the splendor that is his home. Who cares that a normal pregnancy can last up to forty-two weeks and that some babies take even longer to gestate . . . let’s hurry and get that baby born! Stat!

Don’t even get me started on how few mothers bother to breastfeed their babies for the optimum length of time, because surely, someone will be offended and that is not my intent. But honestly, how many babies are shortchanged because of mom’s rush to just move on to another stage?

Babies are little for about twenty minutes, it seems, and then they are stinky teenagers, but we are in a headlong rush to get them through each stage as quickly as possible. Finish up breastfeeding so we can potty-train so we can enroll them in full-time preschool so they are ready to read and write before they get to kindergarten so they can what? Apply to an Ivy League college before they get out of second grade?

Speaking of second grade, I must again describe my dismay at observing second-grade girls at a Veteran’s Day assembly a few years back. Those seven year olds had highlights in their hair and pantyhose on their legs and high-heels on their feet. And to think that I wasn’t even allowed to wear earrings before I was ten back in the old days. These girls looked ready for an office romance.

This all ties in with my pet peeve:  parents who take children to inappropriate movies or allow them to watch inappriate DVDs at home. (The latter happens more often than the former because parents apparently don’t realize that the images are the same–only smaller–on both screens. Duh.)

Why are we in a foolhardy hurry to expose our children to adult themes and images? What three-year old needs to view a rated PG-13 Superman giving his main squeeze an upside down kiss? What child needs to see violence on screen or hear wildly inappropriate language in surround sound? If a preschooler watches PG-13 movies, what will he be accustomed to watching by the time he’s fourteen? What is the rush?

My job as a mother is to protect my children’s innocence for as long as possible. My job as a mother is to protect my children’s childhoods for as long as possible.

When moms and dads worry more about whether their kid can write a word at age four than they worry about images that child sees, people that child meets and influences that child experiences, something is wrong. Not that any of you are like that, of course. But some theoretical parents are, you know. Rush, rush, rush, hurry, hurry, hurry, without regard for a child’s internal timetable or needs.

My four year can write a “M” and can recognize her name in print. It hasn’t even occurred to me to teach her to write her alphabet, nor do I ship her off to preschool. I haven’t tried to teach her to read nor have I shown her how to wear eye shadow. She doesn’t have a lunchbox or take any classes or own a Dayplanner.

She’ll know how to write in cursive and recite her multiplication tables soon enough. In the  meantime, you can find her in the sandbox, digging.

We’re in no hurry around here.

Originally posted September 27, 2006 at Actual Unretouched Photo.

17 Responses to Slow Down
  1. Stephanie
    February 1, 2009 | 4:37 pm

    Oh I agree with you on so many levels but don’t even know where to start. So I’ll just say a big huge AMEN.


  2. Candace
    February 1, 2009 | 6:05 pm

    While I agree with you that we rush to much. I enrolled my 2.5 year old in preschool simply because he is an only child and felt he needed to be around other kids more. He loves it and had learned!

  3. Becky
    February 1, 2009 | 7:32 pm

    I got blank stares when I didn’t put my eldest in preschool. I put my youngest in preschool, but we missed each other so much that I brought him back home again. Now, both boys are at home with me (homeschooling) and we’re takin’ life easy. We sit around and read books together, and I dread the day they are too big to sit on my lap! And they love it too. I asked my son if he wanted to play in a community soccer league, and he said, “Oh, no, Mom, because I’d have to be away from you during practice.” Awwww…

  4. Alexis
    February 1, 2009 | 10:00 pm

    Some kids need preschool. I know my son does and he is also learning spanish and he’s just turning four next month. I am told by many teachers and adults that he NEEDS it, the stimulation, the interaction, challenge and he excels at school. I am in no rush to push reading and writing until he’s ready but I think preschool is fabulous for the kids that are ready. I’m not sure what I’ll do with my daughter next year when she’s 2 because she is a different chid and her needs will be different.

    It’s not to say we are all in a rush we are preparing for our child’s future and giving them an outlet to express themselves, play and better yet learn to bond with other kids.

  5. Elaine
    February 1, 2009 | 10:19 pm

    Modern life is so rushed and parents in particular feel pressured to “have it all.” Not only do we have to work full time, make enough money to indulge in bigger houses/more gadgets/4WD cars, have fabulous holidays, etc., we must also make sure the kids have it all: schooling, sport, dance, art, music… Exhausting! Everyone finds their own balance, but I wish there were more public sentiment for “having enough” instead of “having it all.”

  6. Cassie
    February 1, 2009 | 11:15 pm

    Your post is so grounding! I have been trying to decide whether or not to enroll Aiden into preschool next year. (He will be three) While I think of all that he will learn he is still my baby. He cannot be starting school. I still to this day remember my first day of kindergarten and soon I will be shipping my own son off to school? I just lost a tear thinking about that. Thank you for your insights.

  7. Casey
    February 2, 2009 | 12:22 am

    I totally agree. Let’s enjoy our kids where they are now and take time to be with them now before we don’t have the opportunity or the opportunity has passed.

  8. AmyG
    February 2, 2009 | 11:09 am

    I agree with you, on a lot of this. My little one just turned 3, the beginning of January. She knows the letter “O”. And recognizes her name, but that’s because her big sister loves to write it & show it to her and because it’s on a few books and a cup.

    When my oldest was in daycare (out of necessity, when I had to work) she was moved to the 3 yr old room. I got a not home from her “teacher” one day telling me that my daughter didn’t want to do her “work”. Her work? She was just barely 3. The “work” they were referring to was writing her first AND last name and writing the letters of the alphabet. Hello!? At that point, she still had like 2 1/2 yrs before she went to kidnergarten. There was plenty of time for her learn those things. I quickly wrote them back and told them she was to young and I wasn’t concerned if she didn’t do her “work”. I never heard back from them & was lucky enough to be able to take her out of day care a few short months later.

  9. Ruth Schulte
    February 2, 2009 | 3:44 pm

    I can’t believe you’re seeing little girls in the 2nd grade with HIGHLIGHTS in their hair! When my oldest was only 18 months old and in daycare because I was finishing my master’s some of the teachers commented on her outfit one day as “sexy.” I was outraged. SEXY? She’s only 1-1/2 years old! There’s something so wrong with that mindset. I’m glad to hear there are other moms out there like me who just want kids to be kids.

  10. mom.huebert
    February 2, 2009 | 7:59 pm

    I agree. We didn’t hurry our kids along, and they don’t seem to have suffered at all for being allowed to grow up in their own time. Our youngest just turned 18 this month and tomorrow he goes to get his drivers license. We figured our kids, being homeschooled, had no where pressing to go at 16 and didn’t need to learn to drive then. We gave them a couple of years to mature and gain good judgment, and I’m not sorry. Especially since last summer a local 17 year old boy crashed on a gravel road on his way to school and died. That gave my 17-year-old something to think about!

  11. Kelly
    February 2, 2009 | 11:15 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I have no idea why society is so into PUSHING our children to grow up. I love that my children love to act like kids.

  12. Veronica
    February 2, 2009 | 11:23 pm

    One of my friends who lives in a rotten neighborhood decided to homeschool. She said, ” I wanted to give them a real childhood.” I understand that feeling a little more every day.

  13. Nat
    February 3, 2009 | 5:37 pm

    Ahhhh, I love a good blog rant, especially when I agree with it! 😉 Keep it up.

  14. Carrie of Ceaseless Praises
    February 3, 2009 | 5:48 pm

    I think a lot of parenting depends on what you FOCUS on, too. My parents were totally focused on my INTELLECTUAL development, therefore I could read at 3 and got all A’s. My son’s spiritual and emotional development is my first priority, so although I will be helping him learn words and eventually read, it’s more important to me that he knows that Daddy and I love him and God loves him more.

  15. Anna
    February 4, 2009 | 9:28 pm

    Thank you for this post. It rang true for me on many levels. I sense this tendency to rush even the small things, such as over-encouraging my toddler to try the slides at the park when he’d rather just wander around and watch the big kids play. I am striving to sit back and let him develop at his own pace.

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