Posts Tagged ‘kids’

As I mentioned in my little bio page, I live in La La Land.  Pretty sure you have heard of the term. But this la la land is an actual place.  It is in Johnson County, Kansas.  More specifically, the Blue Valley school district. 

We have great schools, great youth sports programs, affordable housing, and easy access to a little big city, Kansas City.  A lot of people around here say “oooh, you live in Johnson County” when I tell them where I live, like I live in the Beverly Hills of Kansas City or something.   If that is the case, there must be a trailer park in Beverly Hills that I haven’t heard about yet.  I haven’t lived many places, only 4 cities to be precise, and the ones I have weren’t affluent, just REAL. 

Let me back up a little and tell you about my childhood community so you can understand why I am frustrated living here as a parent, trying to raise three happy, healthy, and grounded children. 

I grew up in a community of roughly 10, 000 residents that varied in socioeconomic status to a certain degree as well as a race, just a little bit.  The richest person in town was a practicing lawyer as well as owner of a local trucking company.  There was a section of town where the “rich people” lived  and your family was considered loaded if your house was over 2,500 square feet and had a 2 car garage.  The kids that had it good were the ones with basketball hoops in their driveways and finished basements.  We actually had a finished basement via my father and one of his friends that was in the construction business.   We felt we were on the cusp of greatness!  

Back to the point, life was simple back then.  We walked to school (11 blocks), we ate what our parents fixed for dinner or we didn’t eat, and we played outside CONSTANTLY.  The only things I couldn’t have done without were my bike and my books.  They were crucial to my freedom as well as my social life.  I didn’t have a phone in my room (the equivalency of cell phones for preteens now), no t.v., and no computer (were they even invented yet?).  My books were my escape from a not so happy home life.  I loved to transport myself through the stories I read.  I lived a different life in my imagination.  That was all I needed.  That was 1980ish.

In 2010, in the suburb I live in now, most kids would consider those poverty-like conditions.  Unbearable.  Horrific.  Cruel even.   I want to yell at them and tell them to get a grip!  When my husband and I moved here twelve years ago, I expected the area to be a little more metropolitan than where we had lived before, another Midwest little big town.  C’mon, let’s face it-we are still smack dab in the middle of the Midwest.   Uhh, wrong.

Yes, we picked to live here.  It is just that I think most of the way people see things here is skewed.   The kids around here wouldn’t know “the real world” if they ran it over with their BMW’s.  (It might be their parents’ but it doesn’t matter.  It is still an effing BMW!)  I am not sure if it has always been like this since I didn’t grow up here.  However, since I have kids that are now at an age where their friends are beginning to influence them more, I am fully aware of the rampant dysfunctional parenting styles I see around here.

 My oldest child is in 4th grade and some of the children have cell phones already.   A couple of the kids had them last year even. Who in the hell are they calling?  I understand if they are walking home from school and need to have a way to reach someone in an emergency.  If there were kids walking a mile to get home, I get that.  None of the kids have to walk more than 4 or 5 blocks, at the most.   At this age, we are with our kids 99% of the time, minus school time, and when we aren’t there, they are with a friend and THEIR parents.  Okay, maybe the cell phone was free and the parents don’t have any major cost associated with it.  That isn’t my point.  It isn’t necessary!!  Cell phones are needed for communication when access to a home telephone is not available.  You know that thing that plugs into the wall and transmits voice.  Novel idea, eh?

I know that cell phones aren’t just for talking anymore.  Hell, I have an iPhone and talking is probably the function I do the least.  However, I am also an adult that pays for it.  It is my organizer, GPS, yellow pages, newspaper, etc. all rolled into one.  When I was a teenager, my parents finally gave in and got my sister and I phones for our rooms.   I think I was fifteen, close to sixteen when this monumental event happened.   This wasn’t a cool cordless phone or even a cute Garfield one that opened and closed his eyes when you picked up the receiver.  But I didn’t care.  It was a phone!!! My mom sprung for call waiting when she realized how much time we spent holed up in our rooms talking to our friends and how many calls she was missing as her sisters and friends kept telling her how our phone always seemed to be busy.  Pretty sure these days around here, having a phone in a teenagers’ room isn’t a request seen often.  Probably not even on the radar screen.   Now, cell phones replace that one and if they get to text, ooh, that is like if got an extra phone line for call waiting in my day.  Jackpot!

My next pet peeve is ALL THE CRAP kids have around here.  It borders on obscene.  Let me explain why it bothers me so much.  It isn’t necessarily the stuff but at how young the kids are when they get it.  Motorized scooter at age 6. I have seen first hand kids that are 7 and getting the Razor motorized dirt rockets.   The appropriate age the manufacturer gives is 13+!   What?!  Again, go back with me in time.  In my elementary school days, the fastest things I had were my bike and my roller skates.  All propelled by my power.   You might as well give the kids now a couple of Twinkies as he or she zooms down the street just to make sure they don’t burn any calories steering.  And these are the same parents that are puzzled when their kid complains at soccer practice about having to run, or kick the ball, or just… stand there.  I have seen it first hand.  Drives me up a wall.   Just heard about my neighbor giving their daughter an iTouch and she is 9.   I have another neighbor that put flat screens in all of their kids rooms, ages 9, 7, and 5.   The thing that kills me is not the kids asking for all of this crap.  It is the parents that give it to them! 

Flat screen t.v. for your room? Sure, son!  Wouldn’t want you to have to be down here spending quality time with the family.   ITouch? Sure, honey!  Wouldn’t want you to have to read a silly old book when you play, play, play on your cool gadget that you are either going to lose or step on and crack within the week.  Cell phone with unlimited texting?  Sure, darling!   Wouldn’t want you to have to walk five feet and get tired having to use the vintage house phone.   The more they whine, the more they get.  It is unbelievable.

THIS is why I call where I live la la land.  These children are going to grow up even lazier than they are now and expect the world to hand them everything.  The work ethic is atrocious and they are just elementary school aged kids.  Wait until they get to middle school and the dramatics and mood swings kick in.   Ugh! 

The sad thing in all of this is that I am the minority.  Rarely do I find another person that hasn’t already done these things for their kids or hasn’t talked about doing them.   I just want my kids to have  strong core values and have a few close friends that share them as well.  My job as a parent is to teach them humility, love, compassion, empathy, manners, and too many other values to list.  I only get one shot at this and I am desperately trying to not screw it up.  This is why I love the Midwest.  Most people are simple and down to earth.  What you see is what you get kind of people.  Life is about the relationships you have with others and becoming the best person you can be.  Not how much crap you can accumulate.  A ton of people around here attend these massive congregation churches we have and I see “I love Jesus” plastered on their Facebook bulletin boards.  Then, they turn around and have every brand name clothing item from Nordstrom (as if they would shop anywhere else) and buy their kids everything under the sun. 

Maybe I am seeking reassurance that there ARE others out there trying to teach their kids the same things I am.  I pray there are and that I am not too stuck in my old school ways to realize that this is just the way things are now.  I wish parents here would comprehend that saying “no” to them now will give them so much more later on in life e.g.  appreciation, gratitude, and a strong work ethic.  

“Just Say No” is no longer just a drug campaign slogan; it is also a Parenting 101 class.  See you there !


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