LET THE KIDS PLAY!!!!

16 03 2012

Image                                                I have the privilege of working with our teens on Sunday and Wednesday Nights here at The Lighthouse Church.  I have been doing so for the last two years and we have seen a regular crowd of 60-75 kids on Sunday Nights and about 50 for more in depth Bible Study on Wednesday Nights.  I love the energy and excitement and enthusiasm that come by just hanging out with these awesome kids!  I don’t know if you know this or not, but before I came here to become the Senior Pastor at The Lighthouse Church some 15 years ago, I was an exclusive Youth Pastor and worked with junior and senior high students, college and career young adults and singles at churches in north Jersey, Ohio and Nebraska!

The reason I share this is because last Sunday night the teens let me in upon what I would call really bad news!  We were playing games and participating in activities that included a giant cage ball.  The testosterone levels in the guys were rising with each slam of their bodies into the giant sphere and I loved seeing their faces as they intensely got involved in games that I remember playing when I was their age!  Cage Ball, Tag, Bombardment, Dodge Ball, Football, Kickball, Baseball were all part of the my upbringing and yes while we did get hurt from time to time- we loved the chance to go out and play and to do so not in adult organized league fashion- but in the sandlots and in our own backyards and any open piece of grounds that we could find which many times were the blacktop streets in front of our homes!  And the other night the kids were telling me that many schools don’t allow these games anymore.  Recess is becoming a thing of the past!

What is life without recess?  I am 52 years old and I have never gotten over my regular need to take a break from the sitting still part of life.  I couldn’t sit still back then and I have to admit, I am just as bad as it today as I was those many years ago.  Recess is an innate part of our DNA!  Even God instituted Sabbath to break the routine of working all the time.  And I might lose a few readers here but computer and video games are not my idea of winding down!  Let’s go outside and shoot some hoops or play catch or go for a walk even if it means that at my age I might just pull a muscle that I forgot I had!            

I can’t believe that kids who go to school can’t play dodge ball or kick ball anymore. What is this crazy world coming to?  I did some research to see if what was being shared had truth and proof behind it and lo and behold I read that State leaders in New York have identified the next hazards facing children. But it isn’t obesity or diabetes or illiteracy. Nope. In their infinite wisdom, officials at the Health Department have compiled a list of dangerous and risky play activities including — are you ready for this? — such classics as: Whiffle ball, Kickball, Dodge ball, Capture the Flag, Steal the Bacon, Red Rover, and Freeze Tag. The list also includes actual dangerous activities like archery, scuba diving and horseback riding.  Makes this guy want to sign up for summer camp real soon where all we will do is play Wii games and sit like nice boys and girls with all of the rungs of our chair on the floor and discuss over tea philosophy and world events!  Yack!!!  Makes me want to climb the highest tree in the neighborhood and fall out of it receiving many cuts and scrapes along the way as I soar to the floor in record speed- which I did by the way when I was 8 years old.  But I wore those scrapes like the medals of boyhood!  I was cool because I was living life! 

I remember when I got my first black eye playing baseball in the local sandlot with my friends after school- something we did on our own every day until we lost the ray of any source of light- and I showed up at the house and my Dad was so proud of me!  Nobody sued anybody or shut down the game or called for more adult supervision!  It was part of my initiation onto manhood!  This is part of boys being boys and you have got to allow them to walk that route and fall and crash and be bumped and bruised and take sticks as weapons and chew their graham crackers into little toy guns!  It doesn’t mean you have a bad boy on your hands- it means you have got a red blooded all American male who longs to compete and fight for honor and grow into a man who needs not to be ashamed to be the man that God created him to be!

Jennifer shares that “My son’s school has instituted a ‘no running’ policy except on designated grass areas with supervision. It is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. A little girl fell and broke her arm on the blacktop and this was the school’s response! It is very sad!”  No running!!!!  You have never seen me preach!  I even climb on the pulpit from time to time!  Jan shared this thought tongue in cheek and it made me laugh out loud! “I’m sure they don’t play ‘Ole McDonald Had a Farm’, ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ due to the pressure of leaving children out, the socio/politically incorrect thinking that McDonald might want a man for a wife and not want any children, that the London Bridge did fall down and is in Arizona and don’t forget each game leaves a single child to be a piece of cheese standing alone or the bridge falling down and capturing that child….horrors!!! Nightmares could be blamed on this action. My daughter did fall while playing kickball and smashed her front tooth in half and the dentist scraped asphalt off her lower teeth, I made her get back out and play with a new fake tooth (I know I was a horrible mother) but right before she did a mission trip to Africa she had a bright white permanent tooth put on and today she has a beautiful smile! 

All children, but boys especially, need to run off energy for all that time they have to sit still in class. And what about all the cries for bodily exercise in order for our young people to stay healthy, do we just ignore them or substitute it with only nice and safe activities? What lesson does this teach them? Life is too dangerous to be active??  That is just plain ignorant!

Let the kids be kids and let boys be boys please!!!!!  Masculinity, with its predilection to adventure, rowdiness, and risk has is not a condition to be cured but a behavior to be mentored and encouraged and given many avenues to be acted upon!  We played tackle football growing up with no equipment!  We played jump on the guy with the ball during recess at school!  We all jumped on one another when we were together and wrestled on the floor until the house shook!  This is not abnormal!  This is not something that must be tamed- but like a wild stallion- it is harnessed for the good of that particular colt’s future calling! 

I wrote to my Facebook friend Amy the other day a thank you note for allowing her sons to be boys!  Mom’s there are times that boys need to climb to the highest point of the monkey bars or fall of the bike while trying a new jump or break an ankle while sliding into second!  it is part of being a boy that someday you want to grow up into a courageous man- one that is not afraid of danger- but has been well trained to walk into the fire if it means rescuing the ones that he loves!  Let the kids be kids.  Let them play!  And if they can’t play at school, I hope to see them at Youth Group real soon!  Because even at my age- I am still a boy at heart who loves recess the best!

 

 


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2 responses

16 03 2012
Cal

Awesome Pastor!!!

24 03 2012
Betsey Jansson

Used this blog as inspiration to play dodgeball with the 5-8th grade pioneer girls at my church. It was not the tremendous success that I had envisioned. Since when are junior high aged girls not able to jog slowly for 2 minutes without becoming exhausted…since when do junior high aged girl NOT know how to throw or catch a medium sized rubber ball?
It seems that our young men are not the only ones suffering from a don’t run/don’t play society.

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