Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Giving kids something to do.

I was told to think about something. So I did.

My church was sent a letter. It was from a reporter at our local news paper who was asking the community, community leaders, and churches to get involved with a solution to a problem he has seen our small town has.

The problem is: Kids are all over town with nothing to do.

Because of bored kids, vandalism has become a serious issue in the town. Since I moved to the town, I have been reading about the problem nearly every week. Notices in the paper asking everyone to please report anything suspicious, so that maybe this time the police can do something rather than simply make a report and clean up the mess.

The reporter had a big idea for a community center. The description sounds like a recreational center. A great big building filled with fun stuff for kids to do.

I'm all for it. I do have a question though.

How far will we go?

At what point will we decide to stop building places and rooms for them to go to, toys and games and gadgets for them to use, and handing them cell phones so they can check in with a simple text message?

When will we stop and say these kids are worth something more valuable than money - our time.

I simply tried to mow my yard this weekend and ended up with an audience of 6 children. I've never met new children in my house though. I always seem to have to go outside for them. If I want to impact the children in my neighborhood all I have to do is go outside. I can sit in my backyard and throw a ball in the air and children will eventually show up. If I go outside and do this every night, I'll shortly find myself stepping out the door to a waiting crowd.

It wouldn't cost me a dime. But it could very well cost me a few hours.

But I doubt the reporter would send out a letter asking for parents, community leaders, and churches to all give up our time, give of ourselves and teach these kids. If he's smart, he probably knows that not too many people would be willing to. I know very well it's 95 degrees outside when I go home. I don't want to go outside either.

It's easier to buy a game. I spent 3 dollars at a thrift store for a game called Torx. I handed it to my niece and nephew and the next 45 minutes were entirely hassle free. I got a lot accomplished. But, it's not the same as when I look them in the eye and say "this time is yours, we're going to spend it together". It doesn't mean you're doing silly things, or playing a game. Sometimes it means you're teaching them how to do laundry. Sometimes it means you're reading a book. Sometimes it means you're just talking about the day.

Kids aren't much to talk to sometimes. I've heard a whole lot of jibber jabber. I've heard words and sounds that I don't understand from the younger kids, and way too many words about virtually nothing from the older ones. But deeply embedded in those words is some priceless information about who your kid is, and how they feel about things you didn't believe they thought about.

The thing is, it works both ways. When you sit down and actually talk, not just convey instructions and schedules or rules, they're able to find out who you are. And how you feel about things they believe you've never faced before.

You can build a big building and send them off to play. They'll enjoy it. Say! I would even enjoy it. 45 minutes of peace and quiet in the house seems priceless. But it's not priceless. It just cost me 45 minutes of my kids life. The only question is what I'm going to hold as more valuable.


Anonymous said...

i agree with you. it is too easy for parents to not take on the responsibility of spending real time with their kids. playing and doing things together...instead of giving orders or waiting for someone else to care. we can be very selfish and cruel to our kids with out even realizing it by being selfish and in our own little comfort zone or problems of the day, which are many times caused by not taking responsibility of showing our kids that they are worth our time. we get stuck in a rut and vegge-out, give up, not care. and we think that 4th graders are cruel to each other...we are worse. an i stand guilty of this to some degree. this blindness of what we do that reflects in children's lives...it is not of God. thanks for the reminder!

One Sided said...

Some unsupervised individual decided last night that their entertainment should include breaking out the drivers side window in my truck.
While highly unlikly the policed asked if I would press charges if they found the individual responsible.
In light of your blog, who is responsible?

flyawaynet said...

Who is responsible?
The kid that broke the window.

Kids know right from wrong. For the most part, it's instinctive. If you had walked outside last night and saw the kid break the window, he would have ran. Why? He knew he did wrong.

That's enough evidence for me.

I don't want to raise children that have to be supervised all the time. Or entertained all the time. I shouldn't have to buy $500 in video equipment, the latest Star Wars toys, the coolest bikes, heelies, rollerblades, skateboards, etc. just to keep my kid out of trouble.

My job (says the 26 yr old that's been parenting for 16 days) is to raise up the child in the way that it should go.

By definition, I'm a caregiver and a teacher - not an entertainer.

flyawaynet said...

Unless, of course, the parent regularly took this child out breaking windows.

Then my answer changes entirely.