I played a lot outdoors, rode my bike everywhere. We lived in a tiny cookie cutter house, we had a yard, a cat, (a dog at some point). I played in the snow. Kids picked on me at school and I ‘toughened up‘ to get past it. I had plenty of friends, I went to school, (school that I wasn’t sure if I hated or liked, but there was no other option so I never even thought twice about it). I had friends, and with the friends came the drama and gossip. I played soccer, we played man hunt with the neighbourhood kids. I played the piano (barely). We ate pizzas on Fridays. As we got older, we were all encouraged to do well in school so that we could go university so we could get a job… There was no mention of an alternative.
And, it was fine! My childhood was perfect because it shaped me into who I am today.
But. my kid’s childhood looks radically different. And, although I had a great childhood, there’s no way I’m going to try and recreate my childhood for my own kids.
Not only do we live 10,000 miles away from where I grew up, but we do things different. And, this life for them, is perfect for them because it is what it is. The nostalgia of my childhood doesn’t mean anything to them and it doesn’t have to mean anything to them! My childhood is my story, it doesn’t have to be theirs.
As of now, my kids have only been homeschooled. They haven’t be part of a ‘group‘ at school. And, that’s fine. They’re off doing other adventures in life. Just because I went to school doesn’t mean they have to experience the same thing!
They don’t have a yard, we live in a unit. I spent enough hours of my teenage years mowing the lawn to know that mowing is nothing I want to waste my time doing now! We don’t have pets, even though I had a billion when I was a kid. We just have a different life and there’s no time for pets.
My kids don’t have snow, they don’t have skiing, they don’t have ice. It’s fine. Of course, they beg to see the snow, so I guess I’ll have to take them one day! But, they have the beach, they have rainforests. They don’t have Twinkies and Tootsie Rolls (thank God), they have vegemite instead.
And, I’m happy that I’m not passing on certain things, like my fears!!! When I was a kid, I was terrified of doing gymnastics and never really felt interested in it at all! When my daughter asked to sign up for it, I remembered all those scary thoughts and also the thoughts that I’m not crazy about gymnastics, but I pushed those thoughts aside to make way for HER experience. Now she loves gymnastics and its really quite good at it and I love to watch her do what she loves. They also do dance which is nothing I ever had an interest in doing!! But, it’s what they love, so how can I say no?
Lots of things are the same, and these are the important things. Having strong morals and human values are the non-negotiables. Valuing knowledge is important, not so much the way we learn.
I often think of my husband’s grandmother, who came from Russia to America in the early 1900’s, and of my ancestors who escaped Europe in the late 1800’s. How radical there childhood would have looked to that of their own children. And back then, the world was bigger, you couldn’t just hop on a plane in Brisbane and be eating a slice of New York pizza 24 hours later. Of course, some things are always carried over from our childhoods, and that’s good! Especially if it’s some cultural or heritage thing, but it’s also ok if some of it is lost. Keep what’s important and drop behind what doesn’t really matter.
The human race knows how to adapt. We know how to let go and move on. We know how to survive and thrive! I’m so happy that I see my kid’s lives as unique and I’m not trying to force them into enjoying things that I did as a kid. If they want to do something I enjoy, then that’s great. But, if not, well, then we’re off on a brand new adventure to learn and explore together!