A friend recently forwarded an article to me that really left me baffled. The headline read, “School District Bans Running At Recess.” My first thought was, this must be an urban legend. So, I did what any responsible
journalist, blogger, mom-with-a-mac would do; I researched and found that the ban on running at recess was just the tip of the iceberg!
Our First Lady, Michelle Obama, will have to change the name of her “Let’s Move!” initiative to “Let’s Move!, but not so quickly”. Recently, a Collection of postage stamps commissioned by the White House to encourage kids to play sports and lead active lifestyles was recalled. The stamps, “deemed unsafe by federal officials included illustrations of kids skateboarding without kneepads, doing a cannonball dive into a swimming pool, and doing a handstand without wearing a helmet…” according to a recent ABC News Post.
I shared this story with the 3 Bros. in my Flying Circus (my sons) and they laughed hysterically. One of them said, “who ever heard of wearing a helmet to do a handstand.” Apparently White House Officials have!
It seems to me that there is something quite sinister going on here. I believe this movement to bubble wrap our children and protect them from life’s bumps and bruises goes far beyond attempts to keep them safe. I believe that there is a breed of people that excel in Politics and Educational Administration, who skipped prepuberty all together. These freaks of nature were toddlers and then suddenly teens with nary a hop, skip or jump between developmental phases. Perhaps they’ve forgotten how fun it was to climb a tree, turn cartwheels, jump rope and play a game that was not initiated or supervised by an adult, even if a scraped knee or competitive loss may have ensued!
My handsome hubbie is the chair of a local track and field event for children. The name of the event includes the words Youth Races. A parent asked why we gave children ribbons for placing 1st-3rd in their events. He felt that this was not fair to the children who were less athletically inclined. I wanted to remind him that the definition of the word “races” infers competition between runners.
I did however, point out that all of the children were given participation ribbons. I told him that in our opinion, the Youth Races helped teach children valuable life lessons that should not be avoided because they may be uncomfortable at first. All of the children were winners for participating but not all could win the race. It is important for children to learn to gracefully celebrate the achievements of others even when the results of the efforts of others surpass their own. (It’s a lesson my son rehearses each year as the aforementioned dad’s son takes the coveted spot in the district spelling bee – EVERY year!)
Lest you think the madness stops with running at recess, cannon ball dives and handstands without helmets. Here is a partial list of activities and traditions that have been banned by a school near you.
- New York Department of Education banned the words dinosaur, poverty, birthdays, divorce, Halloween and dancing, which “might elicit ‘unpleasant emotions’ in students.”
- BFFs now BANd. That’s right, in an attempt to “save others’ feelings”, best friends are not allowed in some schools in the UK.
- Hand holding at school banned in Tennessee
- Red Ink banned because of it’s “confrontational” nature at schools in Australia and the UK.
- Because of its “aggressive” nature, dodge ball has been banned in schools in New Hampshire. Adult dodge ball leagues conversely continue to grow by leaps and bounds (no pun intended).
- A school in New York has banned all non-motorized modes of transportation to and from school. Again the Let’s Move generation is being asked not to move.
- Traditional sports balls banned in a Long Island Middle School. Kids are given nerf balls to play with instead.
- Tag, touch football, and even soccer banned in schools across North America.
- Superheros no longer welcome in preschools.
Allowing our kids to have an active childhood, both physically and creatively does not come without its share of risks. The 3 Bros in my flying circus have all been taken to the emergency room at a local hospital (one more than once) with various fractures and dislocations. That being said, they also know what it is like to survey their pretend kingdom for hours in an ancient tree. They’ve swam in streams and pretended to be Pioneer-Survivor-Warriors with fifteen other boys in our neighborhood. They have childhood stories that will inspire their children to play and dream.
There is a Bible verse that I believe sums up a parenting perspective that may be lost on our generation of parents. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7).
I’d love to hear some of your favorite childhood memories involving play. Please share in the comments below!
Until next time…Fly high and dazzle ’em!
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