Sunday, November 6, 2011
Zombie Children Everywhere!
I work in photography during the day; One of those cookie cutter portrait studios with the major advertising in every parenting magazine you pick up. I love my job, I do. I get to work with kids all day, I get to "capture memories" (part of our slogan I think, or used to be, so that's why it's in quotations), I get to be artistic, and I get to be the crazy ass lady with bright red hair that tickles herself with a feather duster to make herself sneeze to get the kids to laugh. Yep, that's me.
I've noticed, though, the number of kids nowadays that don't smile. Not even the smallest little corner of the mouth upturned.... nothing. And I'm not talking about the kids that are scared to have their picture taken or scared of strangers. Those kids are in another category themselves, a category we know how to deal with. No, I'm talking about, well...
The Zombie Children.
That's the only way to describe them. They don't say a word, do exactly what their parents tell them to do, sit, stand, lay down, and never change the expression on their face. Blank look in their eyes, eyes glazed over sometimes, looking at me like I'm the biggest idiot on the face of the earth for trying to make them smile. These Zombie Children aren't limited to an age bracket either. I'm seeing them as early as 9 or 10 months old, all the way up to 11 or 12 years old. No matter what I do, they refuse to smile. Even a little. And we have tricks that we use- lots of tricks. And when I've used every trick I know, and not a single smile has occurred, that's when the parent tells me, 'Oh, by the way, little Sally never smiles. She's very mature for her age and takes life a little seriously.'
GIVE ME A FREAKING BREAK, SHE'S 3!!!!!
So, can someone help me out with this? Do I not need to be drinking the water in this area or something? What in the hell makes kids who are supposed to be full of life, full of energy, enjoying being a kid, a zombie? No emotions, no life, no anything????
The parents. There, I said it.
Sorry to say, but one way or another, the parents are to blame on this one. There is no way that a 1 year old has no personality at all. Or a 3 year old for that matter. And definitely not a 2 year old. They are supposed to be full of personality and a zest for life (more commonly called The Terrible Twos). So, either the parents have stifled the kids' behavior so that their personality doesn't come through, or, probably the more common answer, have the kid on medication.
And here's where the good stuff starts....
"Oh, well, little Billy started kindergarten this year and just wouldn't sit still in class, so I took him to the doctor and sure enough, he has ADHD and we're putting him on meds as soon as possible."
No, little Billy is 5 years old and went from being a kid at home with mom, being able to do whatever he wanted to whenever he wanted to, to having to obey rules and sit in a structured environment with other children at school. Getting up and running around is what 5 year olds are SUPPOSED to do in Kindergarten. That's what Kindergarten is FOR- breaking kids in to the school system and discipline they aren't used to. So get little Billy off the Zombie Children meds and let him be a 5 year old. Damn.
"Oh, well, little Sarah has always been a little hyper, but shortly after her 8th birthday it has gotten really bad. She never sits still, she is always running around the house when she gets home from school. I just think it's best if we have her checked out for ADHD."
Hmm, let's look at what little Sarah is eating during the day. Starts her day off with Sugar Frosted Cocoa Rainbow Puffs- and a big bowl of it, with chocolate milk. For lunch she has a soda, chips, bologna sandwich, which she trades with one of her friends for a pudding snack pack, and a candy bar. When she gets home, she has ice cream for a snack and another soda. Dinner consists of frozen pizza, another soda, and a slice of cake for dessert. Can anyone here tell me why little Sarah can't sit still and is running through the house all of the time? Yeah, okay, next one...
"Well, little Jimmy definitely has ADHD and needs to be on meds because he never sits still, except when he's playing video games. He's always up and on the go, can't concentrate on anything, doesn't sit in school, and is always on the move, when he's not playing video games."
Can little Jimmy sit and play video games for 2 or 3 hours straight? Yes? Then little Jimmy doesn't have ADHD. Kids who truly have ADHD can't sit and do anything for an extended amount of time, even if it's something they enjoy doing. So, if after 15 minutes of playing that favorite video game, little Jimmy drops the controller and goes swinging from the ceiling fan, gets bored with that, picks the controller back up, plays for 10 more minutes, then is off to drop the cat out of a second story window, then yes, little Jimmy has ADHD. But if he can sit and do something he enjoys doing for hours, then the rest of the day is just filled with things that bore him. So the child doesn't need meds, he needs hobbies- and lots of them.
"Well, little Suzy can't concentrate at all in school. She gets up and runs around math class, throws temper tantrums when she's given math papers to do, and gets very frustrated with other kids when they read aloud in class. She won't sit and listen to them."
Have you asked little Suzy why she has a problem with math class or when other kids read aloud? I bet if you do, you'll find your answer there, and I actually had that problem once in my own personal life as a kid, once with my son:
When I was in the first grade, I couldn't sit still. Was bored in class, didn't stop talking, was always disrupting class. My teacher had a parent/teacher conference with my folks, and told them that there was this 'new diagnosis' they were finding out about, ADD (this was over 20 years ago, people) and she thought I had it. She advised my parents to take me to a doctor, get me diagnosed with ADD, and put on ritalin. My mom hit the roof. She sat me down, had a talk with me, which is when I explained to her I was bored in school. My mom (LOVE that my mom was like this, too, that's where I get it from) marched into the school, gave my teacher a piece of her mind, and told her I was bored in class and to do something about that instead of advising her to put me on meds. The teacher started giving me 2nd grade level reading books and math problems, and lo and behold, this little girl quit acting up in class. I was bored, people. Plain and simple.
Now, fast forward 20 years to my son. I had problems with him for a few years- throwing chairs at the kids in preschool, spilling chocolate milk across the table on purpose, hitting teachers, never sitting still. At first I thought it was the divorce and all the life changes he was going through, which, I still think had something to do with it to this day. But in Kindergarten, his teacher told me he was the worst when it came to English class. He would rip his paper up, hide under the table, refuse to do his work. So, I sat down with my son, had a talk with him, and found out that when he couldn't read the words they were learning that day in class, he got very angry and lashed out. I began putting in extra work with him, at home, to learn the words of the week, and to read books we had at home, and almost instantly the temper tantrums in school stopped. My son didn't understand the work, and when all of the other kids had gotten it, and he hadn't, he was frustrated, and being only 5, saw tempter tantrums and hiding under the table as the only way to express his frustration so the other kids didn't think he was stupid for not understanding things they did.
I have seen entirely too many Zombie Children since I've lived here, and it saddens me and sickens me. If the parents of these kids had children just to medicate them so they wouldn't have to deal with them, then they shouldn't have had children in the first place. I'm sure, with 95% of these children drones, the parents are to blame. Either they are medicating the kids for their own personal gain, or are stifling their child from being a child with rules and fear of being disobedient, or simply aren't listening to what their child is so desperately trying to tell them through words or behavior. Holy crap. Remove the stick from your ass, realize that you were given this beautiful child for a reason, and let the kid be a kid. Talk to them, listen to what they have to say, instead of telling them how it's going to be. I'm sure if they did, they'd find out that little Timmy is an amazing artist and is just bored in math class because he'd rather be drawing. Or that little Mandy just wants to be an actress when she grows up, so she spends her days in class acting, trying to make the other kids laugh and play with her. Or that little Gabriel just couldn't read the words the teacher was writing on the board, so he ripped up the paper and hid under the table...
And my own blog post has made me cry. I told y'all in the beginning this was a subject very dear to me. My children are my life, and I wouldn't have them be anything other than the crazy, sometimes unruly, outspoken, beautiful anti-Zombie Children that they are.