My Kids Will Have a Magical Childhood (One That I Will Help Make Happen)
In Ms. Bunmi Laditan's recent Huffington Post blog post, "I'm Done Making My Kid's Childhood Magical," she indicates that childhood itself is inherently magical; that parents shouldn't be stressing about finding 'the best' on Pinterest, or planning and executing crafts; that time spent playing outside and using imagination was what she recalls as being the happiness in her childhood. She pointedly states that a trip she took to Disneyland when she was five-years-old that she doesn't even recollect. She suggests that parents should allow their children to experience their childhood rather than it be manufactured for them.
"The magic we speak of and so desperately want our children to taste isn't of our creation, and therefore is not ours to dole out as we please. It is discovered in quiet moments by a brook or under the slide at the park, and in the innocent laughter of a life just beginning."
I understand what Laditan is trying to say; that children can experience magic without the additions of extravagance or monetary support. However, I disagree with much of her article.
Yes, our parents played with us less. We went outside and played from sun up to sun down. In general, I didn't do crafts with my mom or my friends either. But Laditan fails to mention the realities that went along with that time. Moms were doing almost everything from scratch—baking bread, making meals, washing dishes, hanging clothes on the clothes line and then ironing them. Daily chores took a significant amount of time that is greatly reduced now (I can think of four times times I have used my iron—ever). Kids went outside to play so mom could get all that other stuff done.
I make a lot of our meals and snacks from scratch, and it still only takes me about an hour a day to prep all that, and all the dishes get loaded into the dishwasher. It runs while I hang the clothes that just came out of the dryer. And then I am done. I don't even vacuum my floors every day, the Roomba does it for me. So why not spend the extra time with my children? We build train tracks and Lego castles. Sometimes I am the train conductor, sometimes I read while sitting in the same room with them. Sometimes we play tag, or build forts, or bake. We go on walks, build snowmen, race toothpicks in the water drainage and go puddle splashing. When they are old enough to go outside on their own with other kids, I will encourage them to do so. But the concept of sun up to sun down isn't a reality anymore. Outside playtime will be balanced with having some time with Mom (and Dad) too.
Imposing your childhood on others.
Laditan makes a point of saying that the times she spent exploring on her own were much magical than a trip to Disneyland she took at age five that she can't even remember. She indicates that she remembers birthday parties where, "We popped balloons, ran around in the backyard, and we had cake. Simple. But when I look back on those times, they were magical."
What bothers me the most about this post is that she is inferring that people who do, or experience, anything other than her recollection of what was magical are manufacturing the magic. I wholeheartedly disagree. Children with an extravagant party and a birthday cake that took four days and $400 to make will remember their parties as fondly as she does hers—it is what they know, and it will be magical.