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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Slow down -- wave

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hi neighbors. One night this week there was a show on TV about nostalgia of the 1970s.

One thing mentioned was the television show "Mr. Rogers." How many of us still say, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood" and think of that pleasant man?

Although the more rambunctious youths of the day would belittle him, mothers and younger children enjoyed watching his calm mannered and non-abrasive discussions.

I saw an interview with him on television once and he said he always wanted to stress that children, especially small children, were important to the world around them in their own way. He added that his overly calm and determined presentation manner was to let children know what he was going to do before he did it so they wouldn't be frightened or startled.

As a parent, remembering the calm and open expressions on our toddler's face when watching Mr. Rogers' show was a good thing. I think he was ahead of his time in understanding how easily small children can misinterpret adult actions as frightening simply because adults are larger and move quicker.

It seems the whole world moves a lot faster these days, even for adults. It must seem like living in a tornado for little ones.

Children are shuttled quickly from one area to another from the day they are born. Could only seeing the world outside from a fast moving vehicle invite misunderstandings of their surroundings that we as adults don't expect or even recognize?

Have you seen elementary aged children going quickly from school to some after school activity, grabbing a fast food fix on the way? Many of these kids go to soccer or swim practice, dance class, karate class, music lessons, or school events, etc., till dark. Then it's finish your homework, take a quick bath, play a video game for a few minutes while eating a snack, then off to bed.

Upper grades and high school days are even more packed. Their after school hours include bus trips out of town for ball games, band or speech competitions, or clubs and other organization events. Of course there is also learning to drive and going to work for several hours each day for most high school students.

Pre-schoolers don't have it much better. As modern parents we feel our children have to maximize every hour of every day practically from birth. Two and 3-year olds have "play dates" with other toddlers to develop social skills before they hit the big fours and start pre-school. Baby music classes are deemed necessary to develop music appreciation, a sense of rhythm and to hopefully improve future math scores. Each of these activities can take up an hour or more each week.

Parents buy innumerable toys designed to help baby learn to balance and pull up, learn to recognize sounds and colors -- all before they are 2 years old.

Kids have to learn early to get ready for the school experience.

Of course parents have super charged lives as well. Not only do most families have two working parents, but their children of all ages each have to be carted from activities, events or doctor's appointments in a seemingly endless parade that maximizes lunch breaks, sick time off work and weekends.

If they have realized that American dream of home ownership, already over-stressed families have to work together to try to complete all of those never-ending home maintenance chores.

No wonder we are all so stressed out! Take a vacation? Do you know what it takes to unify a family of four's schedules so they can all have the same week (or even weekend) free at the same time?

Every family in America consists of supermen, women and kids! Or at least trying to convince themselves they are.

I can tell you things don't slow down after retirement. Clubs, groups, visits with a usually widely dispersed family take up lots of time. Let's not forget church activities, trips to the gym, coffee clutches and genealogy research -- whew! No wonder life seems to keep moving faster and faster for all of us.

As Dr. Phil might ask, "How's that working for us?" Are we feeling fulfilled and confidently challenged? Or are we just tired and stressed out?

Maybe we could all benefit from watching a few Mr. Rogers repeats now and then. Wouldn't it be nice to just come home after school or work, change our shoes, put on our sweaters and go sit on the porch and wave at the neighbors? Or is that calm and comforting scenario as far removed from us now as the 1970s are?

Nancy Malcom
The Third Cup