Battle Cry of the Angry Mom

I could just fill this entry with words like “hiss” and “spit” and other angry, angry stuff. I am angry. I wish I could push a button and transport myself and my family somewhere else, possibly into a parallel universe. This world is worrying me and stressing me out.
I’m not sure if it’s just this country, this “Golden State”, or if it’s a global development, but sometimes I seriously wonder what the hell is going on. I look around, and all I can see is people frantically rushing around, scheduled up to the hilt, filling every possible minute of their days with stuff. No time to think. No time to chill out. No time to just be. It’s not acceptable to stand still for a moment. You arrange a time for that, so that you can say, “tomorrow from 9.30 to 10, I’m going to be doing nothing”. What makes me so worried and angry, though, is the fact that it’s already infected today’s children. Children are (being kept) so incredibly busy that they’ve forgotten what to do when there’s nothing to do. They get bored, and they don’t like it. Getting bored is not acceptable in today’s world. People are scared of being bored, they like to be so busy they don’t have a moment to think, “Huh, funny that, I have a moment to think. How boring!” I think it’s insane. We need to have time to do nothing. We don’t need to cram so much stuff into our days, and what’s more, into our children’s days. It’s good to get bored from time to time! I am totally convinced that kids need those moments when there’s no activity going on, when there’s no entertainment presented to them. That is the time they need to get creative, think about stuff, or just relax. Time to process things. Time to read a book that’s not on the curriculum, that’s just a story that has nothing to do with school. But here, it seems, it’s normal that after school, the kids do homework and then some activity or two, usually sports, sometimes music lessons, language courses, and then some more school-improvement activity such as studying with a tutor, online tutoring, etc. It seems that they are learning, working, doing something all day long. Yes, I agree, it’s good to be active, and to learn things, and to improve one’s skills. But why so much? And when do they do all that? We’re talking elementary school children here, children, who are being turned into little performance machines who have no time to develop their own personalities. They’re being force-fed stuff all day long. Where’s the time to play outside, climb some trees (and I’m not talking about “outdoor camp” or “tree climbing lessons”)? Time to set up a race track for their guinea pig? School and work is everything here. You have to work hard, be the best, academically and physically. My 8 year old daughter is worried about her maths skills. She says that she’s not as good as her peers. Now, she’s a perfectly normal 8 year old, and she is perfectly capable of doing the work required in her grade, sometimes maybe not as quickly as she’d like it to be, but it’s all there, and I’m happy with what she can do. And yet she’s worried. At age 8. I’ve been talking to a lot of people, and it seems that pretty much everybody gets their children to do extra work at home (in addition to daily homework). What they do at school doesn’t seem to be enough any more (in the parents’ minds? I have no idea). I want my daughter to be able to do her homework well, but does she really need to be able to do it more quickly, more easily? Does she? I’d rather she spent that extra hour playing, reading, doing something she wants to do. If it’s normal that everybody has extra tuition and spends extra time on school stuff, isn’t that a sign that something is wrong with the system? They spend 6 to 8 hours at school each day, shouldn’t that be enough? And then I also really want my children to get a good night’s sleep, because sleep is – at least in my mind – the most important thing of all. So, no, I don’t want my daughter to sit up and work in the evening, and then maybe get some down time, and go to bed later than is good for her. WTF? Am I the only parent thinking like this? I don’t want to participate in this race, I really don’t! I want out, I want a return to a less frantic pace of life, I want kids to be kids, and not robot-like machines. I want creativity that comes from within, and is not studied in a creativity course! Am I the only one who has these thoughts? Really?
I teach a few sessions of kids’ yoga a week. And I always try and include some quiet relaxation time at the end, just 5 minutes or something like that, when the kids are quiet. And do nothing. I usually play some music and tell them a little story. The idea is that they just relax and think of nothing at all. It’s so interesting to see the different reactions to it. Half of the kids can’t lie still at all, they fidget, keep opening their eyes, roll around, and some are obviously very bored. And yet the other half becomes totally and completely still and quiet (except for some happy sighing noises), and so many of them have said it’s their favourite part of day. Which just goes to show.
Yesterday I picked up one of the numerous brochures regarding Summer Camps. It’s that time of the year again, when everybody frantically searches for the perfect occupation for their offspring for those ten long weeks in the summer. People here don’t get much holiday (something like 10-15 days a year), so obviously they need to find somewhere for their children to go. But picking the right camp is a whole other issue, and the pressure and the stress of signing up for the right thing is palpable. One academic camp advertises with the slogan “your kids forget up to 80% of what they’ve learnt during the year – don’t let them!”, and offers maths and writing improvement lessons. Of course there’s a whole range of really exciting things, art & music camps, dance workshops, proper overnight camping, and so on. All fun (as long as you can afford to send your kids there, of course). And all designed to not give your child a second to get bored.

2 thoughts on “Battle Cry of the Angry Mom”

  1. Hi Steffi,verstehe gut was Du sagen willst.Bei uns geht das aber auch schon los,da geht nachm Kindergaten in Fussball,Reiten,Musikunterricht,Reiten,Sprachunterreicht(auch im Kindergarten schon)etc etc.Unser Grosser is nachm Kindergarten so ko,dass er ausser in Garten gehen,da bissl Fussballspielen oder Sandkasten nix machen will,vielleich noch die Schwester ärgern,die auch kaputt is nach 8 Stunden Kinderkrippe.Aber selbst bei den kleinsten geht das schon los.Da heissts dann,also wenn ich mein Kind abholt,dann möcht ich ein erholtes Kind,damit ich mit demnoch was machen kann!!!HAAA????Wir müssen alle bissl bekloppt sein,weil uns keiner in einen Stundenplan gepresst hat und wir nicht zu Tode gefördert/gefordert wurden.Ich hoffe,das wird mal wieder besser.Wir werden schon komisch angesehen,weil wir Ihn nicht überall reinstecken.Ich halte auch persönlich nix von PEKIP o.ä.Ich finde das verrückt.Das sind Kinder.Aber eine Freundin von mir hatte das Erlebnis im Kindergarten schon vor 8 Jahren.Ihr Sohn war nicht bei den \”Schlaufüchsen\”in der Vorschule und die Kindergärtnerin meinte eiskalt,den könne sie gleich in der Sonderschule anmelden,das wird eh nix mit dem.Die is schier umgefallen.Heute is er aufm Gymnasium,ein total intelligentes ausgeglichenes Kind.Ich versteh es manchmal echt nimmer.


  2. Manchmal denke ich echt, es macht doch gar keinen Spass mehr, Kind zu sein! Oder Mutter, wenn man dauernd im Stress ist! Aber vielleicht aendern sich die Zeiten doch, und mehr Leute fangen an, zu denken wie wir. Ich kann ja verstehen, dass man bei Arbeitsplatzmangel etc sichergehen will, das ein Kind bei den Besten ist. Aber nicht um jeden Preis, und nicht so! Stress schon im Kindergarten ist doch einfach der Hammer…


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