Fast forwarding through childhood and pausing adulthood…a Mama’s rant

Ruby my granddaughter
Ruby my granddaughter

A few months ago my soon to be eight year old daughter rediscovered her American Girl Doll with a vengeance. After sitting in the land dump of stuffies and dolls, Ruby was once again a part of the daily cycle of family life here in BGIM-land. Unlike a few years ago when Ruby first became a member of our household, soon to be eight has decided that depending on the day, Ruby is either her baby or her sister. My daughter reads to Ruby, feeds her, and yes, Ruby goes everywhere we do. Ruby makes the rounds at the Farmer’s Market where several of the local farmers actually know her name.  According to the picture below, I did the same thing when I was her age except my dollies didn’t look anything like me.

Me and my dollie at almost eight..guess they didn't have brown ones!
Me and my dollie at almost eight..guess they didn’t have brown ones!

Considering that my daughter just finished second grade and won’t even turn eight for a few more weeks, in my old fashioned and outdated mind I thought that playing with dolls was a normal childhood activity. It turns out, I was very wrong. I have tried to ignore the looks of dismay when people turn around to see my daughter interacting with her doll. It reached the point that I actually started talking with other parents and well, I am surprised.

In my area while kids may privately still play with dolls, most by my daughter’s age no longer cop to playing with toys or dolls publicly. I have seen this at my day job where we do have a handful of kiddos in my daughter’s age group who have announced that they are too old for childish stuff like toys. Whoa!!  

As a friend recently told me over lunch, I should be prepared for my daughter to be considered one of the strange kids…what??? Soon to be eight will be starting at a new school in the fall, for grades 3-5, where it is not unheard of for a kid to have their own iPod or iPad. Now I am not technology adverse, after all we have a family iPad that is primarily used by the girl child. But her own private iGadget worth several hundreds of dollars? Nope, I am a working stiff and considering that wages have not kept pace with the cost of living in over 20 years, on general principle the idea of spending that kind of money is simply not something I am comfortable with.

Yet when every other kid has their own cell or iGadget by the time they are ten, I admit that I am aware I am fighting an uphill battle. If the price of admission to friendship is having what others have, I know that my values will matter very little to my child. But where has childhood gone? My son is only 13.5 years older than at his sister and I remember him clearly playing with his action figures well past the ripe old age of almost eight. Sure he had electronic gadgets like a Gameboy but gadgets 10+ plus years ago didn’t cost as much as three weeks’ worth of groceries nor did they require a monthly financial commitment…data anyone?

On the flip side we are rushing kids through the childhood years but once they get close to adulthood in the later teen years we are halting their development. Back in the day, when one was 18, they were an adult. Sure your parents may have paid your college tuition bills or sported you money to live on but society saw you as an adult. As we learned last year not even our auto insurance company considers my now 21 year old son an adult. By virtue of the fact that his legal residence is now my house (it used to be his dad’s) and I am his mother, we pay to cover him on our policy despite the fact that he doesn’t even have a car. My folks ceased being financially responsible for me when I moved out of their house at 18, yet in today’s world early adulthood is seen more or less as an extension of childhood. We have assisted him during these college years and have been happy to do so, but there is something about the fact that in some cases I am forced to do it when it isn’t necessary, makes no sense.

 Never mind the tales my son has shared in his three years of college; roommates who were woefully unprepared to live on their own even in college. In his freshman year he had a roommate who did not know how to do his laundry…at all. Instead the kid would save it up and after a few months and take it home to dear ole mom to launder. The problem though was that in a small shared space, the odor of the funky clothes became so intense that my son took to burning incense to cover up the eau de funk. In another instance I remember my son wanting a friend who lived less than 100 miles away to visit our house. It was suggested that the young man who was 16 at the time and in possession of a driver’s license take the Amtrak train to get to our house, nope the kid’s mom wasn’t comfortable with her son taking an hour-long train ride even though the kid could legally drive a car. While I understand having a comfort zone, if a 16 year old boy is ready enough to drive a car, the same boy should be able to take an hour long train ride. The ability to navigate public transit is a valuable skill because sometimes cars break down and you may be in an area where public transit is the norm.

In the end, I cannot help but feel something is terribly wrong with how we view childhood, our kids are being rushed to grow up, and those who refuse to fast forward through childhood are seen as “different” in the not good way. Yet just when our kids are ready to leave the nests, we hold on for dear life and refuse to let them grow up. It’s enough to give a Mama a headache.





4 thoughts on “Fast forwarding through childhood and pausing adulthood…a Mama’s rant”

  1. This is what I really don’t get. Some parents shackle their kids with every electronic gadget imaginable, nevermind that they are so bloody expensive because (1) everybody has them, so you’re “keeping up with the Joneses”, (2) you feel that giving them the “hottest” thing out there that really bumps up the “love” quotient to magnificent levels (oh, please) and (3) it’s part of growing up in a 21st century world of any and everything in an instant. Well, frankly, too often, it’s simply laziness. Gadgets keep kids occupied because that’s the last thing some parents have time for — raising their kids.

    And then these same fancy-pants, let-me-give-my-kid-600 dollar-gadgets without batting an eyelash play “helicopter parent” and know no boundaries. Um, no, you cannot come with your adult child to the interview. No, I will not accept your call for you to tell me how wonderful your adult child is and why they are worthy of getting the job. Oh, and for God’s sake, no, it isn’t acceptable to have them forever on an allowance well into their 20s and 30s.

    I know times are tough, but please, I’m an immigrant child of a single mother who had to clean people’s behinds and had close to d*mn near half a dozen jobs to keep us going, and it was expected that I would get those working papers as soon as I hit the age requirement. I was paying rent before I hit my 20s, utility bills and car insurance and buying my own groceries. Although I wholeheartedly believe if you’re a parent who can do the little things to alleviate some of the financial hardships of your adult child, do it. Don’t let them suffer extraordinarily. But children have to be taught that at some point, we all have to grow up and stand on our own.

    Nothing is wrong with playing with dolls. But the irony here are the comments about a soon-to-be 8 year old who SHOULD be playing with her dolly and not thinking she’s grown. I’ve heard too many 8 year olds talking to their parents like they’re the same age. That’s why so many teens think they can talk to adults any old way. That would never fly in my mother’s house.. To those who criticize: You cannot have it both ways.

    • We were looking through the family albums tonight and for the first time she realized that she looks almost identical to me. Of course I looked almost identical to my mom, I often wonder what a picture of the three generations would have looked together had my mom lived.

  2. Hear, hear!! While my girls played with their AG dolls well past 8 (they are now 26 and 22), they haven’t for many years of course. Recently, the 26 year old found the dolls while at our house and pulled out the clothes and the wheelchair and played with them for a whole evening. It was very sweet.

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