I write a lot about how my children are growing up so fast. How the years fly by and I want so much to slow things down a little and keep my children young as long as possible. So it is not surprising that I have been thinking about growing children and the pace of maturing and the world we live in.
My children’s childhoods DO feel as though they are passing by at an alarming rate and I DO wish it could all be slowed to a pace more akin to a snail’s than a cheetah’s, but in comparison to the world we live in…my children are actually w-a-y behind their peers. We live in a world where it is encouraged for children to grow up REALLY, REALLY FAST. Seven year olds with cell phones? Toddlers dressed like mini-adults? First graders with boyfriends or girlfriends? Ten year olds watching shows for/about teenagers? And where did the whole concept of the “tween” years come from?!?!?!?!? A nine or ten year old is NOT a teenager and is not ready for teenage things.
I am always sad when I see little girls dressed in tight fitting shirts with short shorts, or young children with their faces in their electronic devices at the park, or television shows and video games that glorify teenage angst and disrespect and violence marketed to kids (or marketed to anyone else for that matter).
My children are innocent, ignorant, and youthful compared to most kids their ages. They have no cell phones or laptops or I-pads (not even my 14 ½ year old). They are not permitted to watch television or play most video games. Those that they do play are very closely monitored and supervised. My children dress like children, they play with play-doh together and read picture books together (well not so much the 14 year old and 11 year old anymore...), but they do all still ask for permission to do things like play outside in the front yard, make a phone call (on the home phone) to a friend, watch a movie from our collection of parent-approved DVD’s, even get a snack in the afternoon, etc…. And even though my kids have healthy restrictions in life and must respect the rules Tim and I have laid down for them- they are not unhappy. They are not angry or frustrated. They don't feel like they are missing out. They are too busy enjoying their childhoods to worry about what they might be missing.
I don’t want my kids to grow up too fast. And it is not because I selfishly love that sweet baby stage when my little ones light up at the mere sight of me and still believe I am right about everything and still trust in me completely (though, of course, I do love that stage). It is not because the thought of my babies growing up and leaving my home and going off into the big, bad world all on their own both terrifies and pains me to the point of tears (though if I think about it all too much, it does). It is not because I still remember that moment when I first looked into each of their newborn eyes and vowed I would cherish every moment with them, while the reality is I am often too busy and distracted to cherish every moment and to remember to be grateful for every day. I don’t want to someday look back and realize I’ve missed my chance to be the perfect mother because my children are all grown and now it is too late. But that is not why I want my children to grow up slowly.
No, I want my children to be allowed a nice long childhood because it is such a fleeting time. Adulthood lasts a long time (God willing) and once their innocence is gone our children can never have it back. I want to allow my kids to enjoy the gift that their childhood is. I want them to be able to play and live and grow (at their own pace) without the pressure of dealing with adult issues and grown-up concepts before they are ready.
What's more-- I want my children to believe in a world where families are still important and adults are respectable and responsible. I want them to live in a world where the Bible means something and Our Church provides our moral compass, where things like respect and obedience and humility and all virtues are seen as good and important. As long as they are young, as long as they live under my roof, as long as they are not always striving to be more mature than they really are- I can allow my children the opportunity to enjoy these gifts.
Someday they will know about all the evils of this world that, right now, I want to shield them from forever. Someday, I'm sure, they will be attached to smart phones and aware of worldly attitudes and twisted belief systems based on relativism and selfishness.
I know I cannot shelter my children forever. I know it would be wrong to even try, but I pray they will be allowed the opportunity to grow up and mature s-l-o-w-l-y, in their own time, not in our culture’s timetable of life at warp speed ready to push ahead and skip the simple innocent days of youth.