After an STC Hypermarket run this afternoon, I found myself in my kitchen preparing a fruit bowl for my kids. Just to taste the freshness of the grapes, I bit into one and to my horror, I bit into a seed. Since when do the red ones have seeds? I almost cried as I realised that the what-would-have-been a five minute prep had now turned into another extra ten as I would have to cut up the grapes and remove the seeds. As I stood there meticulously removing the seeds from each and every single grape (and double-checking that I hadn’t missed one by accident), I caught myself thinking how kids these days were so demanding and complicated. I chuckled at the thought of ever asking my mother when I was growing up to remove the seeds from grapes. I would have simply never done it and if I had had an audacious moment when I would have, I would probably have paid for it in some way.
But then, it dawned on me that I hardly ever ate grapes growing up and that the only reason my children would only eat them seedless, is because that’s how I have been feeding them the fruit since they were in their diapers. Besides, isn’t dangerous for toddlers to eat whole grapes? Wouldn’t they choke on the seeds?
Yes, my kids flat out refuse to eat grapes with seeds because they never have. And who decided that? I did.
My children are not demanding or complicated. They are products of how I have raised them and I in turn are raising them ‘that’ way, because it is ‘the’ way everything around me instructs me to.
And this brings me to that comment which has come out of all our mouths, ‘kids these days…’. Kids know shit. They do not come out of the womb with their fingers twitching to scroll ipad screens or licking their lips for seedless grapes. It is us adults who have conformed to the new ways of the world and who live it and expose our children to it in our daily lives. I’m not saying we are a horrible generation of parents, but we are the guilty party here. It is not anyone’s fault that the world continuously changes but as parents we cannot raise our children with expectations deriving from our childhood because our children’s childhoods are different.
I look at how my kids play hide-and-seek. It is hilarious. They have three hiding places; the drapes in our living room, the space underneath the home-work desk and behind the couch. A hide-and-seek game is over in minutes. When I was growing up, I would play hide-and-seek outside my parent’s home in the midst of hundreds of trees; breadfruit, jackfruit, banana, papaya, you name it, and it would take ages for anyone to find me. I see the excitement of the game in my boys’ eyes when they play it, but it’s just not the same. Their hide-and-seek skills have nothing on what I had (and still have mind you). In the same breath though, their ability to figure out anything with a screen far surpasses mine. Their intimidation level is close to none – unlike mine. And in case you are wondering why don’t I take them to where I grew up and play hide-and-seek there with them, you must be out of your mind. The secondary road near the property which had 10 cars drive by slowly when I was 7 now has 10 cars fly by every 30 seconds and the trust which my parents had in the neighbours then, well that got dragged into the recycle bin back in 1990.
To put it simply, everything around us keeps changing. We are all beneficiaries and victims at the same time of it. While I refuse to believe that what made a child a child in 1980 is different from 2017, I cannot say the same for their environment. Children yearn adventure and play now as they did then but now, we have screens and complicated toys which do the job that tall breadfruit trees did then. ‘Kids these days’ are born with the same innocence and joy which they did ‘back in the day’, it’s just that us parents need to keep them distracted so we can somehow survive the complicated world we have created for ourselves.