Okay, call me old fashioned. A dinosaur. An unrealistic baby boomer who clings to values that no longer exist.
I don’t care.
I recently sat with my daughter as we perused the local newspaper listings in search of summer camps or classes to entertain my 5 year old grandson. I’ll be blunt (as I usually am). The price of some of these so called “workshops” is highway robbery and obviously puts them out of reach of most working class families. The themes of some of these so called “workshops” makes me shudder.
Don’t get me wrong. They’re not all bad. There are a few interesting topics. For instance, a group of 4-6 year olds can attend a half day workshop for one week to learn about bugs i.e. setting up habitats, metamorphosis, caring for critters. All for the low price of $150. HUH? Go buy an ant farm at your local toy store and save some cash. At that age, ONE half day is as much as their attention span will allow.
Here’s a delightful theme. “Serving Up a Smile”. For grades 2-5. Your child can join other lucky youngsters to learn how how community service works. One week of half days is only $180. HUH? Ever heard of Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts? And while they’re discovering things about their community, they’ll also learn how to tie a great looking knot or become terrific salespeople hawking their cookies.
And here’s my favorite… “Children’s Etiquette”. Ages 4-12. Your darling baby can learn manners! Imagine that. A polite child. What an interesting concept. And the description says they’ll learn it without even realizing what they’re doing! HOLY MOLY…call in the press! This is breaking news!
This is also where the curmudgeon grandmother really emerges. I find it hard to believe people will actually pay someone $215-$225 to teach their child manners. If parents can’t teach their own child etiquette, then they should sit along side them and take the class, too. Maybe the promoters have a family plan for less money.
Let me take a moment to address this with parents who are actually considering such a workshop. There’s more to parenting than a biological process. There’s a responsibility attached to bringing a child into adulthood. As parents, it is our job to make sure the little tyke is raised with ethics, morals and yes, manners.
Children do not ask to be born nor are they capable of raising themselves. They are here for the most part because of our folly or conscious decision to bring another life into the world. If you don’t like confrontation or would rather shift your parental responsibilities to someone else, I suggest practicing parenting with something that has a shorter life span. A dog, a lizard, a cat (although they can be pretty confrontational) or better yet, a pet rock.
Parenting is time consuming, thankless and will often leave you doubting your communication and decision making skills. As children develop into adolescence they become masters of emotional manipulation. And after that, especially during high school and college, they will undergo a metamorphosis similar to those bugs you paid $150 for them to study. Only this time it will be your child turning into a black hole, a bottomless pit with no end, into which you throw large sums of money that will never be seen again.
After that, if you’re lucky or blessed (as I am), you will enjoy the fruits of your labor and realize it was all worth it.
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