I quit. I give up. I forfeit. I don’t think I signed up for this. Or maybe I didn’t read the rules carefully enough before starting this game of life. It sounded fun; fall in love, have a wedding (cake and dress! Yes please!), get a house, make babies. All the stories made is sound like a dream come true.
Maybe there was fine print…. Or extended play rules. I most certainly did not sign up for children crying because of the pressure they are under to get good grades AND volunteer AND do sports AND show leadership all so they can get into a college they can’t afford. Because they will have so much student debt that their fairytale will be delayed by raising housing prices and cost of living.
I didn’t agree to pester my child to wake up after sleeping for only 5 hours because she had school, then practice, then scouts so she is starting her 4 hours of homework at 9 pm. I didn’t agree for my son to get to school in the dark and leave when it’s dark. They came to me with excitement of new opportunities and friends and fun. I signed the forms and the checks, because these opportunities have a financial cost as well. And then our family life disappeared. Fun disappeared. Lazy days of watching television marathons disappeared.
Instead I hear of children on anti-anxiety and anti-depression medication; babies, children as young as 12. My life wasn’t hard and scary at 12. What have we done to ruin the lives of our children. I hear about young adults dying by suicide. Parents tell me they now have all the knives locked up in the house, just in case. And all of these parents are ALONE. They are scared and ashamed. They don’t share. They don’t want to be judged that if only they had a stay-at-home parent or if their child had more exercise. Stop. I quit. I will not shame parents who are trying their best. And if you shame them privately behind their back. I will say something.
And I am saying something now. Out Loud. Because until our kids are kids once again; and given the forgiveness to learn and grow and make mistakes, we need to talk about it. These are not isolated incidences. I have friends from all over the country confiding in me about the mental health of their children. Children who HATE school. Who feel pressure and don't see a light at the end of the tunnel. Who no longer understand their purpose. Who plug into video games to give themselves a break.
I don't know the answer. But I know what is happening now isn't working. Too many kids are unhappy, filled with stress and anxiety. Too many parents are choosing between school and life. Actual life. Actual living, sleeping, breathing. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for children.
I quit. I refuse to participate in a society that is hurting its children.