How exciting can “normal” be?

August 30, 2011

Tomorrow is the first day of class for my 15-year old son. I’m sure it would be an exciting event, if we had time to think about it. Tomorrow I am shopping with my oldest daughter, helping her prepare for college. She moves into the college dorm on Friday. I’m sure that would be exciting as well, if we had time to think about it. It seems that there is always another event, another exciting moment just around the corner, that there isn’t that much time to get excited.

I remember when, as a child, the excitement about a special event built up days before, even weeks before. We had time to get excited because there weren’t a lot of activities booked on the calendar.

Now, it seems that the calendar has exciting moment after exciting moment already scheduled: first day of school, first day of college, first day at the farmer’s market with my new business. Plans are already in the works for events further into the future. There isn’t a lot of time to dwell on the exciting moments.

I know of many parents who complain about children being “dulled” by the medication that seems to be prevalent in today’s world, specifically the medication required by hyperactive children. I wonder if we are “dulling” our children with, quite simply, too many exciting moments. If “exciting moments” are a “normal event” around the house, then how exciting can they really be?

When I think back on all the activities that my children have been exposed to, including traveling overseas alone, I’m amazed at what they have already experienced. I was in my 20’s the first time I went overseas. My children went overseas when they were 13 years old. What exciting moment do they have to look forward to as young adults? Not traveling overseas, already done that.

As a matter of fact, my children think traveling overseas is, quite frankly, “boring.” Each of them spent three summers in a row traveling overseas for a summer program. They found the flight extremely dull. They had their hand-held gaming systems to entertain themselves. They had the in-flight movies. They had their music.

I’m sure if I had to sit for eight hours doing nothing but playing games, or watching movies, or listening to music, I’d be bored, too. But when I traveled as a young adult, I didn’t have those entertaining toys. Instead, I had nothing but the person sitting next to me on the bus, plane, or train. I found the actual “traveling” aspect very entertaining. It was fascinating to talk to all of the individuals that I met while traveling from place to place. There was always someone who had a story to share. Someone who had been someplace and experienced something only told in novels.

Not so for my children. They were raised not to talk to strangers. And given all kinds of electronic entertainment to ensure they didn’t talk to strangers. Now, they sit on a lengthy flight and are bored. Of course, I don’t want them talking to a lot of strangers at the young age of 13 years. While I was an adult before I started a lot of my traveling, they were only young teens. For safety sake, they couldn’t participate in many of the adventurous activities I participated in while en route to somewhere. As a result, they have the impression that the actual “traveling” part is boring. That is such a shame.

Although I certainly don’t regret sending them off to these overseas programs, I do wonder if exposing our children to so many adventures and activities is such a good idea. Does it help to broaden their minds, or dull their senses? Does it help to entice them to thirst for more, or encourage them to become complacent as adults?

So many questions. And, unfortunately, for many of the answers, they won’t become apparent until my time with my children is almost over. All I can do is say that I did what I thought was best, with the knowledge I had. And leave the rest up to them.


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