There have been an abundance of “every kid should” posts floating around the blogosphere lately (specifically this one. Which is what completely set me off. It’s been that kind of week). While I get that the intent of the posts is to…well, I’m not sure what the intent of the posts are. I read them and I find myself saying “Hmm. Yes. OK. That’s an interesting idea. But what about parents who don’t (fill in the blank)?” I want to say to these authors “Hey, your middle class is showing” and I really want to know how they arrived at the decision of what “every kid should do” (of course, I don’t).
Basically, I’ve been getting irritated at these posts. Mainly because they’re nothing but nonsense designed to make parents feel terrible if they don’t do those arbitrarily picked activities (you know, because parents aren’t already made to feel guilty about enough things). So I figured I’d come up with my own list of 7 things every kid should experience. The activities are just as arbitrarily picked but I can assure you that they are a bit more attainable for all parents than snow or farm life:
- Being read to. I don’t care if it’s at the library for storytime, from a teacher, at daycare or from his own parent. Every kid needs to be read to. There is something that happens in a kid’s mind when he’s listening to a story that is just amazing to watch. Not only that, a book can inspire quality conversations.
- Playing in a park. When most people envision a park, they envision sprawling field, replete with fancy equipment, picnic tables and children, laughing and screaming in their own natural habitat. But it doesn’t have to be that fancy. Some of my favorite park memories are at the park next to my grandparents’ apartment building in Queens. That park was concrete and had about 4 pieces of equipment (most of which were covered in graffiti). But it was my favorite.
- Having a birthday party. I believe that birthdays are incredibly special and deserve to be celebrated. What’s nice is that a birthday party doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. A few dollars on cake mix and icing, some handmade signs and decorations, and family and friends. Even something that small will make a kid feel special and honored that her birthday is recognized and cause for celebration.
- Getting in trouble. Kids need to push boundaries, test limits and all that jazz. But they also need to get in trouble when they are wrong. Coddling and ignoring their behavior and poor choices does no good. Every child needs to experience getting into trouble. And suffering the consequences.
- Coloring (or any arts and crafts). Put crayons in a kid’s hand and see what she creates. It’s almost magical. In fact, if a kid in your life starts coloring, join her. See what you create. And see how relaxed you are when you’re done. Almost as relaxing as a spa, and substantially cheaper, too.
- Music. There is a reason VH1 is (or was) trying to save the music. It’s that important.
- Having a pet. I concede that pets are a huge responsibility and parents usually wind up assuming the majority of their care. But I fully believe that kids should have a pet. If you don’t want your kid to have a pet of the 4 legged variety, get him a fish. Having a fish still teaches responsibility and all that good stuff. And there’s no mess to clean up.