Do you remember that episode of the Cosby Show where Theo’s math teacher, Mrs. Westlake, comes over for dinner? First off, how cool is it that the Huxtables invited their child’s teacher into their home for dinner? I LOVE that. When I was in the classroom I attended birthday parties, sporting events, etc. because reaching the student goes far beyond the classroom. It takes a relationship. A village.
Theo thought Mrs. Westlake was a totally different person in the classroom than she was at their home that evening. Fair enough – she did put on her “teacher face” when need be. I have a mean teacher face, or so my daughter tells me. It comes out when play time is over. You know, like when it’s time to buckle down and get serious. When summer chillaxing is over and it’s time to go back to school. When, like my West Indian parents say, “Yuh free papah bun now” (translation- Your free paper has burned out). Time to get serious and get back to work. To quote my father in law, “I laugh and I joke, but I don’t play!”
Do you treat the school year the same as the summer or do you have a seperate set of rules in your house? According to my daughter, e v e r y b o d y else is able to play on their iPhones all day and have adult-like freedoms. Sorry.. not in my house. If mine ends up being the only child who is not keeping up with the world than let her know that she is the example. She is the one. They need to be wondering about why she is so special. She may not understand that now. But the day it clicks for her that these things are for her benefit is the day my job as a parent will feel fulfilled. But the fact that she doesn’t understand now will not deter me from sticking to my guns as I know what the Lord has planned for her life and playing games and texting on electronics are not stepping stones on that path.
5 Back to School Rules
- No electronics during the school week. You might say that’s a bit harsh, I mean – there are on average 7 hours between getting home from school and going to bed. What are the kids to do?? Hmm.. let’s take a trip down memory lane. I remember my grade school days when I didn’t have a Nintendo, I didn’t have cable television, I didn’t have a cell phone. What did I do?? You also might be saying that times have changed – kids don’t play outside anymore. Well, it takes one man to change the world. When I grew up we played double dutch everyday. We didn’t buy designated ropes at the toy store; we used telephone cords that would have gone in the trash anyway. We made due. I can’t believe these kids don’t know how to jump double dutch. It breaks my heart! We use to have so much fun jumping rope. Took our rope everywhere with us so that we could jump during free time – after church, after school, at your cousin’s house, at the park, wherever. Maybe that one bored girl will ask a friend or two to learn how to jump with her and that will turn into a league. It could happen. Or maybe they’ll just have a little fun with it. Does this give you anxiety to think about not having your devices? Then learn to practice yoga. It’ll relax you and maybe you’ll wind up starting an after school meditation group. Create your own board game and invite your friends over for a game night. Excelling in your classes? Start a tutoring company. Falling behind in your classes? Ask your teacher what kind of project you can do for extra credit. Hungry? Open up that kids cookbook and try out a new recipe.
- Bedtime is bedtime. Listen, I don’t play with bedtime. I don’t care what you are in the middle of – take your butt upstairs and get in the bed. The day is done. Give them five extra minutes and it could turn into 30. I believe that children need boundaries and need to be held accountable to stick to them; your children can’t respect your authority of you don’t enforce it. You’ve been home for 7 hours, what do you need 5 more minutes for? Next time figure that out beforehand. Manage your time.
- Do what you have to do now in order to do what you want to do later. Be working quantitatively toward something. An honor student does not just do the basics. You better believe Sasha and Malia do not just do their homework real quick then get to lay in front of the tv. You better work! This could mean anything. Maybe you’d like to be a veterinarian – then volunteer an hour at the local animal shelter or start your own business walking dogs in the neighborhood, or walk your own dog or teach her a new trick. Maybe you’d like to be a newscaster – then start your own Youtube channel or blog or create your own neighborhood newspaper. Maybe you love video games – great, let’s enroll you in a course to learn video game animation or video game background music production or coding. Whatever you do, be productive. Don’t just be the player, be the creator. When you are CEO of your own company, you can take as many days off as you’d like.
- It takes a village – big or small, you can help. You will have chores. Every day. Nothing too difficult. May take you 20 minutes. Well, you have 7 hours – 20 minutes isn’t much. You know what this teaches you – that teamwork makes the dream work. Your chores aren’t simply going to be to clean your own room or something like that. You will be expected to help out the family. I may need you to vacuum the living room or fold your brother’s clothes or water the lawn. We all have to work together for our family unit to be successful. It is not just about taking care of yourself.
- Engage with the family. If you have your eyes glued to a screen, you don’t see me. If you have headphones on, you don’t hear me. If you are doing your own thing, you are not engaging with the family. Be a daughter, be a big sister. Teach your younger siblings right from wrong. Read them a book (I actually require this daily; takes 5 minutes). Tell me about the thorns and roses of your day. Give Grannie a call and see how she’s doing. Start a penpal relationship with your cousin who’s all the way in Connecticut. Go to your friend’s tennis match and cheer her on in the stands. Ask your neighbor if she’d like to walk with you to the store to grab a slurpie. Have meaningful conversations.
The most important thing, parents, is to stick to this. Teach your children to respect authority. And believe in your authority. Pray over what’s best for your family and your children. Create your rules and follow thru with them. This isn’t the way of the world right now. But it takes one to make a change. Be the change. Don’t be a slave to technology and don’t raise a drone. The kids will be grown and on their own before you know it. Let them leave you equipped to manage themselves in this crazy world.
All I’m saying is, there’s plenty to do. Do it. Explore the world. Don’t be a slave to the games. Raise a leader. Encourage inquisitive minds. Stand out for the right reasons. Think about the future.
Your kids will remind you that they are “the only ones..” But you affirm to them that yes, they are!