Christina M. Currie: It’s all a learning experience
September 12, 2008
I’m so glad my children are back in school and can experience the joys of recess.
Are they learning anything?
I don’t know.
Are they making anything?
I don’t know.
Do they love their teachers?
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I don’t know.
I expected 6-year-old Nikki to be bubbling over with stories at the end of her first day of all-day school.
What did I actually hear?
“I get two recesses!”
The games they play, the people they play with, the “best” slides are all part of our daily dialogue about school.
Outside of recess, they “don’t know” what their day entailed. Sometimes they mix it up by not remembering, or as 8-year-old Katie often replies, “I don’t want to say that right now.”
It’s frustrating, but more than that, it’s scary.
It’s scary because recess is a time for conversations that aren’t monitored or curtailed. Recess is the time that all kids learn (they think) all they need to know about life kissing, manipulating parents, kissing.
Recess is when kids learn the facts of life.
Recess is when children start giving more credence to what their friends say than what their parents say.
And frankly, their friends are mostly wrong.
When the “S” word first cropped up into conversation in our house, I explained carefully that it was very important that the girls talk to me about things they were confused about because their friends might not know the truth.
“Oh, she does,” Katie said with an air of confidence.
Yeah. Really, she doesn’t.
I also explained that, although I would give them the facts as I saw fitting for their age and level of understanding, there were a few topics that aren’t really appropriate for playground discussion. Sex was one of those.
The other, currently the hot playground topic, is puberty.
I heard it come up casually as I half listened to a conversation between Katie and her 9-year-old cousin. They had my full attention in an instant. It was yet another conversation I didn’t envision having with my daughter for at least two, maybe even (please, God) three more years. Seriously, where did she even learn that word?
Evidently, Katie is pretty sure a girl in her class has hit puberty. I explained that she’s probably not old enough to have truly hit puberty.
“Oh, yes she is!”
See, I’m the mom, and as such, know much less than a gaggle of 8-year-old girls.
So, I explained the basics of puberty, put in the caution that it’s not an appropriate topic to discuss with friends, mostly because I’m not sure to what degree other parents want their children “educated” about the topic, especially by an 8-year-old (I can already imagine the phone calls).
Children need time to relax their brains and move their bodies. I’m already upset by the ever-shortening time schools are giving children for non-educational (or overly educational, I’m not sure which) things like lunch and recess.
But really. I’m starting to think that this concept of “recess” and “socialization” and “youth interaction” are severally overrated.
I don’t think I’m ready to face the results of those personal-growth related activities.
Maybe I’m just not old enough yet.