Archive for the ‘Children’ Tag
It’s four weeks to the first day of the summer holidays for many children in England. An interlude in the school year that is longingly awaited and all too short. However the money-men have managed to spoil this event. In the window of my local department store is a display of school uniforms, books, and other scholastic materials all emblazoned with the words ‘BACK TO SCHOOL’. There are even adverts on the TV and national press for bargain basement school uniforms.
I was just about accustomed to seeing Christmas cards and decorations on sale in September and Easter eggs on the shelves before we have celebrated New Year, but this is one step too far. Don’t these marketing people thing about the impact these displays have on children? I thoroughly enjoyed going to school but enjoyed the summer holidays even more. However, the dream that the summer holiday would last forever was broken when, in early September, I was dragged off down to the outfitters to get the new school uniform.
Childhood is precious and school holidays are a small oasis at a time when there is significant pressure to study hard and do well. There lives have become stressed by fads and fashions, peer pressure and the mess adults are making of the world. Lets not spoil one of the few oasis they have for the sake of a few weeks of advertising, or at least have the decency to wait until the holidays start!
I am pleased to see the growth in cinema audiences has continued over the past few years. Saturday morning pictures at the Century Cinema were a regular feature of our weekends during the late 1950s and early 1960s. There was a regular cartoon spot, a serial such as Hop-along Cassidy, quizzes and a feature presentation.
On the way out the ushers would stand in the middle of the exit handing out packets of bubblegum. it you were very quick you could fight your way back through the crowd to collect a second packet. During my early teens a Friday or Saturday evening at the pictures also provided an opportunity to get close-up to a girl who, with luck, might respond to your advances. The film was purely incidental unless you had managed to get into an X rated film. The aim was to get a good snogg in the back row.
This always won a lot of respect from your hormone-fuelled male friends. Getting to fondle some of the softer parts of the female anatomy would put you at the top of the league. When they were much younger I had the pleasure of encouraging my grandchildren to go to the flicks to give me a valid reason to see the latest films of a more juvenile nature. Fortunately many of them make allowances for the older audience by including obtuse comical references to more adult matters. My only regret is way the multiplex cinemas only tend to screen mainstream films and ignore many of the high quality films, particularly from aboard.
Back in the 1950s life for kids was a lot less complex, it was also a lot less affluent. We did not have the money to buy lots of toys so had to improvise and use our imagination to turn mundane objects into things of fun. We also created toys from the things around us often taking household items which would cause problems for my mother when she discovered a bed sheet missing or some cutlery bent out of shape. Occasionally a new craze would arise and the whole school would become obsessed with a new toy. We had a Yo-yo craze, a hula-hoop craze, collecting cards craze, toy car craze, the list is almost endless. Some of these crazes emanated from America and one put our lives at risk. Skateboarding started in America in the late 1950s. Even if we could have afforded to buy one they were a rare sight in the UK and certainly not available in a post war housing estate in Essex.
The answer was to improvise and try to make our own. We had roller skates that clamped onto your shoes but did not fully understand how a skateboard was constructed or worked. The solution we arrived at involved balancing a large book like a Beano Annual on the top on a single skate. You then sat on the book grabbed its sides, lifted your feet up of the floor and with a quick push headed off down a hill. By leaning left and right you had some degree of control over the direction but had to use your feet, or more precisely the heels of your shoes to act as brakes. After a few weeks the braking resulted in considerable damage to the heels of your shoes, another reason my mother used to berate our antics.
On one occasion I executed a perfect down hill run weaving in and out of pedestrians with great skill and speed. At the bottom of the hill was a T-junction where the double decker buses used to turn off the main road. As I approached the bottom of the hill and the T-junction I was so enthralled in the moment I failed to see an approaching bus that was about to turn into the side street as I reached the edge of the curb. My plan was to stay on the board and see if I could jump off the pavement and onto the road without crashing. Fortunately the bus driver saw what was about to happen and sounded his horn. The sudden noise made me jump and I tumbled to a stop just as the front wheel of the bus passed within a few inches. My board and skate days were over.
So, no sooner have our children learnt to walk they are giving up the practice to become couch potatoes. Television is now the opiate of the young. I’ll resist the contrast with a television-free childhood of the 1950s where we made our own entertainment and only sat still at meal times. My worry is the effect this lack of self-simulation and imagination will have on their future lives. Is this what‘s generating the growing numbers of moronic individuals I meet every day?
Instead of removing the social divisions caused by a lack of education and money we seem to be creating a new division based on a lack of intellect, social skills and creativity. Alcohol has become the opiate of the young generation and getting drunk a nightly rituals Ladette culture has taken hold as young women try to outdo young men. Too much cash and too little self respect seems to be the norm today.
Over 20% of children are overweight, or fat if you prefer. They also have a high prevalence of low self-esteem, suffer bullying, develop diabetes and many other problems. In fact obesity is the most common childhood disorder in Europe. We know being overweight will shorten your life span so why do parents allow their children to get in such a state. In America ‘reckless endangerment’ is a crime, perhaps we should start making parents accountable for the over eating and inactions of their children, it might even make them think about their own unhealthy lifestyles.
There are many natural physiological and psychological differences between the genders, not just in humans but in all species. These differences are what create and drive sexual reproduction. As man has become more socialised and developed a moral and emotional self we have started to introduce laws that aim to reduce and in some cases eliminate the differences between the genders. Universal suffrage and sex discrimination legislation are perhaps the most significant.
To allow working women have children without risking loosing their careers we have maternity leave regulations. Even fathers now have an opportunity to spend a little time with their new born without sacrificing their holiday entitlements. Now the Equality and Human Rights Commission wants to see more sharing of statutory leave between parents and a greater entitlement. The problem with all this legislation is each attempt to redress the differences between the genders creates discrimination and disadvantages to others. You cannot use laws to rid society of the differences between the sexes.
Those who cannot have children not only suffer as a consequence but have to support those who do and do not have the opportunity to take the extra paid and unpaid leave provided by statutory maternity leave. Infertility is as much a disability as any other but these individuals get nothing were as everyone else gets help and support, its discriminatory, clear and simple. Even help for the infertile is capped by the NHS. Those who choose not to have children are also discriminated against. Often having to fill-in for those who are on maternity leave or need time off for their children. In a fair and equal society we all have rights and responsibilities. If I exercise my right to have a child I should also take full responsibility for the consequences and not expect the state pick up much of the cost or others to be inconvenienced because of our actions.
Celebrity culture seems to have developed an obsession of adopting children from third world countries. These trophy kids are paraded as some badge of honour, a display to the world of how the individual is doing their bit to help the less fortunate. Madonna’s plans to adopt a second child show just how out of touch these people are from the real world. Her first adoption was mired with controversy and she seems immune to criticism.
They seem to think because they can provide a more affluent lifestyle for a child the whole process can be reduced to a shopping expedition. Just fly over, pick out some sweet looking child that would make a nice addition to their collection, pay off the authorities or relatives and head home with their trophy child.
Having read some of the minor reasons our social services have used to refuse to allow people to adopt, I doubt Madonna would pass the first assessment. We need to help these children, but not just the ones who looks particularly cute, but all of them. She should do what the more enlightened celebrities have done and fund a children’s home or school so they can develop into people who will contribute to their own societies for the betterment of everyone.
The Grandparents Plus group has come up with the notion that grandparents should be paid to looking after their own grand children while the parents go out to work. The group say the idea is supported by most parents. Well, state the blindly obvious why don’t you; of course they are going to support any idea that gives them more money, only a fool would object.
This is another case of people seeing the role of the state as being to support every single aspect of their lives instead of looking after themselves. If a grandparent decides to care for their grandchild that is their decision, they should not expect the state to pay them for what is their duty to the family. If the kids go to nursery school they would be getting benefits to help pay the cost, so using their grandparents saves the government money they cry. Saving money, what about the kids in all this what is best for them, being at home with the family, not dumped in some nursery at seven in the morning would probably be best.
Why people have kids and then quickly pass them on to someone else for most of their waking day is beyond me. Yes, some mothers have to work but is their income so essential to bringing up a well adjusted child. Probably not. A loving home is far more important than the three holidays a year, the latest plasma screen TV, new cars and all the other trappings with which we have become obsessed. Perhaps that’s why we have so many young adults that have no concern for anyone else but themselves and believe the would owes them a living.
Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln college, Oxford, and director of the Royal Institution told the House of Lords that children’s experiences on social networking sites
“are devoid of cohesive narrative and long-term significance. As a consequence, the mid-21st century mind might almost be infantilised, characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity”.
Now, for those who do manage to untangle the meaning of what she said and are Facebook users like myself (plus Twitter and Blogger) will wonder what the problem is. With friends in Belgium, grandchildren down-under and an appreciation of the wonders of Marmite, Facebook is an easy way to keep in-touch, share photos and chat. It’s quick, easy, free and can be used almost anywhere.
As for the kids, they have always developed ways of communicating that leave adults at a disadvantag, that’s the whole purpose they don’t want us to hear what they are saying. We used slang our parents did not understand, the same is true of our kids today. They may speak English to you, but not English as we know it (sorry for ending a sentence with ‘it’).
Shortening attention spans was a problem before Facebook. Lack of empathy, no way, just see what happens when a kid gets killed. Their friends take to the streets. And the last thing they have is a lack of identity. Look at how they dress to follow fashion, they are all trying to fit in by fulfilling the identity they think everyone else will think is cool and up-to-date.
Lady Greenfield should spend her time researching things that are more pressing and of more self interest such as dementia.