Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

An Ulcer by 18
AJ Robinson

I recently saw some child psychologist on a morning news show, and he was announcing the findings of a recent report. Are you ready for this? Someone found overloading kids with stuff: homework, sports, music, dance, play dates and so on is not good for them.

Shall I do my surprised expression now?

My response to that is no kidding! It actually took a study to figure that one out. Im sorry, but that kind of study ranks right up there with doing a study to see if texting while driving is dangerous. My response to that one is: well duh!

Years ago, when my daughter was about seven or eight, she had all manner of activities in her life, and I could see the stress it was causing her. I often remarked that, if she didnt learn to relax, she was going to have an ulcer by the time she was eighteen, a heart attack by the time she was thirty! My wife and I talked about it, and we decided: our daughter needed to cut back on her activities.

The result she was a lot happier!

I wasnt the least bit surprised. In looking at her life and the lives of the children around her, I saw that this pattern was repeating: high-speed, high-stress lives. I thought back to my own childhood (yes, back when life first formed on Earth, ha-ha!), and the activities we indulged in. Yeah, there were Boy Scouts, music lessons, helping at the local community theater, and so on, but there were also simple (unorganized) play dates with my friends. Back then, we called it just going out to play or coming over to play; we didnt have to arrange a specific date to play!

Wed go to one of our homes and play in their room, their attic, down cellar or out in the yard. There was also a park just down the street, and wed go there to play in the woods, fish from the lake, and play in the playground. Simple, unorganized play and everyone had fun.

Then, of course, came the summer. In my case, that meant going to Marthas Vineyard Island. Once there, my friends and I played the simple games of childhood: we went fishing, swimming, played tag and kickball, played make-believe games on our porches, and card games and board games indoors. About the only organized time we had were a short summer school offered by the Camp Meeting Association, and doing artwork for the annual art festival.

For us, stress was wondering if wed get a ribbon on our artwork in the art festival, dealing with a scraped knee, worrying if we had a chance of catching the brass ring on the merry-go-round, and being sad that we couldnt go to the beach with our current best friend on a particular day.

Now sure, some people can say, Oh, its all different these days; kids are different, the world is different. Yeah, theres some truth to that, but kids are still kids just because parents are more sophisticated, it doesnt mean kids are, and this new study is perfect proof of that. Im only surprised that it took people this long to figure it out, but then, who am I to voice an opinion? Im just a parent; isnt it wonderful that we have thoughtful, thorough and brilliant scientists to figure out such things?

Sometimes I think we over think some things that an application of simple, common sense would solve most easily.

This is just my humble opinion.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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