Funny how your life choices alter with age. When you’re young you want to be older, and when you’re older you want to be young. But age is the one thing we cannot stop happening, although where growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.
I’m on the beach writing this, it’s another beautiful, hot day and I just had to check my phone to see what day it was, they all roll into one in the sun! It’s Wednesday. Hubby and the kids are playing in the Pacific right now, boogie boards in tow having the time of their lives cruising the ocean waves, dodging the jelly fish and blue bottle stingers.
We now do this daily, come to the beach. Whether it’s straight from school, a Saturday morning, a Sunday afternoon, or often at sunset and I’m amazed by how un-bored the children are after 7 weeks. Me? I’ll never get board of the beach. The music the crashing of waves make, which we can hear from bed at night, the feeling of hot sand underfoot and the sense of freedom as you look across the water into nothing but endless shades of blue, imagining what dreams lay the other side. But the kids are loving it too! If we went to the beach everyday back home in Wales, I’m pretty sure they’d be sick of it real quickly but here, it’s just our way of life now.
What I have noticed with them, especially our 12yr old Son, is how young he seems out here. Back home he’d be out walking around town all day with the boys and I’d be lucky to get a single text off him, he was super independent and grown-up. Here, granted they don’t have a close group of friends yet, he’s playing nicely with his Sister and with us, he’s out on his scooter, he’s swapping Fortnite for Pokemon Go and is loving non-tech beach life.
In the UK, research into many parenting websites suggests that childhood is over by the age of 12. With the influence of what I feel is dangerous and destructive media, marketing and pressure from peers, girls are made to feel anxious of their bodies from a young age, aspiring to be like those they see in the limelight on various social channels and reality TV shows. Whereas with boys, it’s the reputation of being tough and cool that they aim for, complemented by the array of designer sports clothes.
Apparently children who are at the age of 12, or even younger no longer want to be treated like children. They expect to be able to stay up late on school nights, be handed continuous amounts of cash for eating out, make up and gaming purchases, and all have social media accounts, generally acting like they’re already adults, and for us as parents, that’s hard to swallow when at that age, they are still very much our babies.
Online debates also talk of who’s to blame here, who is the real culprit for children growing up too fast. Is it society for portraying the perfect selfie pout, six pack or 24” waist, and for encouraging children to use social media to communicate their life online for all to see, and then get judged on their self-value based upon the number of likes they receive? Or is it education. Should the schools take some responsibility for not teaching our children life skills and lead them to learn that it’s ok to be different, that not everyone is built the same, that some of us will never have long, thin legs (unfortunately!)
But then education starts at home right?, so where do parents fit into all this? Not sure about Australia but I guess in the UK, our parenting skills could have been deemed rather strict. He was, and still is only allowed 2 hours of gaming in the week, a little longer on the weekends, they don’t look at screens after 7.30pm and other than Instragram for our Son who shares his gaming results with friends, they have no social media channels, and our almost 10yr old Daughter is totally oblivious to it all.
In the life we left behind in the UK, everything was so fast and for some, childhood has taken the same path, but here in Oz, we are determined to keep our children young. As much as some days I cannot wait for them to be out of my hair, most days I want them to stay this way forever, swimming in the ocean, playing board games, making cookies, and more than anything, still needing me.
Watching them here with their Dad having fun in the ocean, feeling safe and secure amid the waves melts me. I think daily of how fortunate we are to now live here in this amazing place, 90-seconds from this stunning beach but I also thank my lucky stars for these three, my family. I’m sure Apple will invent a way to make the clock tick slower in the next decade or two but for now, it’s up to us to keep them young, and hopefully they’ll return the favour!
Written by Editor, Rhian Cable
Mum, Wife, Marketing Specialist and Blogger – Living life every minute.