The longer days, the brighter sun and warmer temperatures (at least theoretically) mean many things, only one of which I’ll be discussing today. Semesters are wrapping up, terms will soon be ending and we will be faced with the annual deluge of children with little to do and my neighbourhood to do it in.
I’m not here to argue for more government funding for activities for children; I’m no fool. Pleas for reason clearly fall on deaf ears when the brains in between them aren’t bright enough to see the importance of funding schools and children’s health care—trying to get cash for a skate park seems a bit daft. So instead I am directing this to parents themselves: focus on your own children, meet up with other parents and work it out together. It’s not that I advocate embracing the concept of the Big Society, but let’s face it, politicians aren’t doing jack to help.
Therefore, the starting point is to introduce hobbies that keep young people interested and away from my front gate. A good hobby is beneficial to each of us—it can keep us healthy, productive and happy. Through my own research, I have determined that the most popular hobbies of youth today include swearing, spitting and pulling up their trousers. Unfortunately these hobbies are not good ones.
In an ideal world, I would recommend sitting down with your children to discuss their interests. However, the interests of young people are decidedly stupid so that’s a non-starter. Instead, I have provided a few sensible suggestions.
Arts and Crafts: An old summer camp favourite, arts and crafts can encourage children’s creativity and produce beautiful, useful items. Drawing, painting, knitting, building birdhouses—there’s something for everyone and supplies needn’t break the bank. Some of our greatest artists started off as potential hoodlums whose lives were changed the moment they were handed an egg carton, glue and fuzzy felt.
Reading: Before you laugh, consider this: your mild alcoholism is clearly an attempt to escape the drudgery of your home; children, until licensing laws are changed, cannot turn to the bottle. Good books, on the other hand, can take readers on magical adventures where they can live the life you’d have given them if you hadn’t made such poor choices.
Gardening: Growing something—whether it’s cress in a yoghurt pot, roses in flower bed or veggies in a greenhouse—can teach children planning, hard work and responsibility. A particularly helpful strategy is telling them that sitting silently and watching the plants will help them grow more quickly.
Running on the spot: Not all kids like sports, and many child development experts feel the competition of teams can lead to thug violence. Running in place is an excellent alternative. It keeps a body healthy and in its own back garden.
Crime Solving: Thousands of cold cases go unsolved annually because police stations just do not have enough officers to sift through the evidence. Children’s natural curiosity and deviousness could shed new light on mysteries and criminals that have eluded justice for years. Additionally, staring at crime scene photos for hours on end may keep them on the straight and narrow in the future.
Classical Dressage: Most kids love animals so participating in classical dressage can be both fun and educational. Supplies needed: a Lipizzaner horse, tack (saddle, bridle, bit), clothing (shirt, stock tie, breeches, gloves, coat, dress boots, spurs and hunting cap) and small arena.
Give each at least a week—if it keeps your children busy, continue to encourage it; if they are still risks to society, try the next one. With a little luck, we’ll find one that strengthens their minds and hearts, and, at the very least, we’ll have neutralised their poisonous affect on the community until the schools reopen.