At one of the schools I work at there is a teddy bear that goes home with a different child each weekend. When he returns he has to give an account of the time he has spent with that child. It’s a tradition that has been going on for years and it’s terribly sweet. In the old days Teddy would visit granny, pop along to the garden centre, play in the park or bake fairy cakes with mummy.
Now, though, Teddy’s life is more like something you’d see in Hello magazine. Each week he goes from one exotic outing to another. He’s visited theme parks, spent a weekend in Marrakech, had lunch at the Ivy, been to a charity gala and on it goes.
Poor Teddy must be exhausted. And it’s not only him. When I began teaching, children would go to Brownies or Cubs one night a week and perhaps have tea at a friend’s on another day. If they were particularly sporty, they might belong to a football or netball club or go to judo once a week.
Now, each of my charges seems to have a diary that requires a PA to manage it. They learn violin at four, have extra French lessons at three and there are even classes for babies to learn Mandarin before they’ve even begun to speak English. The world really has gone quite mad.
Children now have iPads while they are still in a pushchair and beg for mobile phones when they begin primary school. It’s common practice in some of the schools I teach in for children to have calling cards that are passed to mothers or nannies so play dates can be arranged.
I worry for Teddy’s sanity and frankly for that of the children. Both need time to relax, be creative and just play. After all, how can a young imagination develop when there’s no time to just sit and daydream.
Let me know if you think we should return to a slower method of parenting…