I think Chuck E. Cheese has the right idea. How often do we expect our children to be something other than a kid? It's like once our children learn to walk, talk, and feed themselves, we forget they are still kids. We seem to think that now they can handle the world like an adult and that is exactly what we expect. We want them to sit quietly at the table and eat their food while using good manners, listen and follow directions, and suck it up when life isn't going their way.
Often I feel like I am just an "over protective parent" when I look at the activities of the other children I know. They no longer play with babies, make mud pies, snuggle with their parents to read a good book, or enjoy being playful and silly together. They seem to think they are too old for that.
The line has been blurred between being a kid and growing up. I have had four-year-olds tell me they have watched movies that I won't even watch because of the violence and use of inappropriate language. Little girls no longer play Barbies and baby dolls, instead they are making music videos, giving makeovers, and playing games on their iPods. What happened to spending the day building forts and fighting dragons?
My daughter, now 10, has always loved babies! Since she was very young, babies have been her favorite toy. Over the years her play has developed and become much more complex, but her favorite thing in the whole world is still playing babies.
I love listening in on her play as she sets up such complex scenes with her babies and the stories she creates using her imagination. I know she is working out the complexity of the real world through play. I hear her describe life while her "husband" is away in Afghanistan serving in the Army. She does chores, goes on vacations, and even adopts a new child once in a while. All while doing what she does best...playing and being a KID!
I want to encourage you to think about the children in your home or classroom. Are they truly "acting their age"? Have you allowed them to just be a kid? Reflect on your expectations of your children. Do you expect them to be seen and not heard? Would you like them to suck it up and take it like a man? If you find yourself continually frustrated and see the frustration in your children as well, maybe it's time to take a trip to see ole Chuck E. Cheese where a kid can be a kid!