Pressure’s On…

23 04 2010

Growing up Asian, I’ve seen lots of situations and circumstances where a young child lives under tremendous pressure to succeed and achieve. And it seems the age is getting younger and younger. I know of an eight grader who took his SAT’s this past year. I didn’t start studying for mine until late sophomore year in high school.

There’s a poem by Rita Dove called “Flash Cards” that portrays this pressure at a young age (linked to the animated reading of it).

In math I was the whiz kid, keeper
of oranges and apples. What you don’t understand,
master, my father said; the faster
I answered, the faster they came.

I could see one bud on the teacher’s geranium,
one clear bee sputtering at the wet pane.
The tulip tree always dragged after heavy rain
so I tucked my head as my boots slapped home.

My father put up his feet after work
and relaxed with a highball and The Life of Lincoln.
After supper we drilled and I climbed the dark

before sleep, before a thin voice hissed
numbers as I spun on a wheel. I had to guess.
Ten, I kept saying, I’m only ten.

We don’t see many kids out playing these days. We used to play baseball, break windows to hit a home-run, play soccer, break windows ’cause we couldn’t aim, play with sewer lids, play with marbles, with dirt, with rocks, trees, with anything we could get a hold of. The streets were littered with children running around after 3:30 pm and the sounds of running, shouting, arguing for calls could be heard from the next neighborhood. I’ve visited my childhood neighborhood, there were no evidence of running, shouting, or even broken windows. I was only greeted by the sound of the wind, oddly telling me of its loneliness and how it missed playing with the sounds of play, even being drowned out by them.

I’m not sure if kids do not play outside now because they are busy studying, probably not entirely. I would imagine, the advancing technology in the area of computers and game systems plays a large part. But whatever the reason, I almost pity the younger generation. They are growing up too fast. I wish for them more dirt, more broken windows, more silliness, more outdoor play, and just the joy and innocence of being a kid.


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3 responses

23 04 2010
walton

thanks for sharing your thoughts Paul…even though i feel like i had to “grow up” quick in my home, i praise God for the scars, stitches, and broken bones. It’s always weird for some reason when i hear people tell me they have never broken a bone before…i ono haha i guess im just a rough and tumble guy. I don’t know why but, reading this made me think about my childhood and the childhood of my future kids. A part of me wanted them to excel and do “baby Enstein” and play sports (at the same time keeping them out of the ER) just for the sake of building hand eye coordination…i ono i wanted to “coach” my kids i guess. I think it comes from my own insecurities of feeling mediocre at everything i do…I told myself, my kids will be great at everything, they’ll never have to feel mediocre and average hahahaha but i realized kids just need to be kids sometime. Thanks for getting me down memory lane of my child hood. Even know, i know im just a Big kid hahah so i’ll remember to keep that little fat kid alive in me hahaha see you soon paul.

7 05 2010
b

you know what i’ve noticed? that although kids these days are ‘growing up’ faster, they are mentally very immature, perhaps even more so than we were, and our parents.

17 09 2010
Bigger Muscles = Bigger Brains?? « Paul Park’s Mental Meanderings

[…] (A Donkey of a Recess…) and the most recent on the pressures of excelling as a youngster (Pressure’s On…). In a new angle, some studies have suggested that the most exercise a child gets, the bigger the […]

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