For the love of Sweet Baby Jesus (SBJ for short), please teach your children how to operate a combination lock before they come to middle school. Also, please monitor their ability to use a clock that has hands.
Each year, I watch *adorable* sixth graders come into school unable to open a locker, organize their junk in their lockers, tell time, tie their shoes, write their assignments down without being reminded, bring their materials from class to class....etc... They are teachable, but have lost interest in becoming independent. I've noticed that they require more coaxing and more explanation as to why they MUST learn things, instead of just being naturally curious and motivated to do so.
What have we done?
Well, IMHO, we've enabled. We've helicoptered. We've circled around them since they were itty bitty bambinos, preventing them from falling and eliminating every POTENTIAL danger, encapsulating them to PROVIDE the best life possible. And we've stunted the HELL out of their curiosity, requiring all of their life lessons to be meaningful and perfect, Pinterest-worthy, then Status update-worthy. They get older and then expect knowledge on a platter, plated like it's from a five-star effing restaurant. They don't know how to dig into something that intrigues them, because they are difficult to impress and therefore are infrequently intrigued! Oh, but it's "our fault, not theirs."
You know what else we've done? We've done a lot of "meh. They'll learn that when they're ready..." and "oh, well, s/he doesn't understand that, because it's not her/his strength." Um, hello. Those are called excuses. Yep! And they start when we have toddlers that freak out in the grocery store, stripping random food products off the shelves and throwing them at innocent bystanders ("He's overtired. It's naptime!") and in middle school ("She can't memorize her multiplication facts, because she's just like me and WE struggle at math.") We make a shit-ton of excuses for our kids because we feel that their performance is directly tied to our success as parents. It's not. Granted, good parents have great probability of having awesome kids. But guess what, shitty parents have good kids too (fingers crossed for my two)! It's our job to provide our kids with the ideas and principles of ownership and responsibility. We need to stop making excuses, and we need to stop accepting them to pad our impressions of ourselves as parents.
I want my kids to be curious, and to find a passion that intrigues them. I want them to make mistakes, and learn from them. They can get hurt (please SBJ don't let it involve their teeth, though. Broken and mangled teeth freak me out. There, I said it. Can't happen to my two, now, can it?), but I hope if they get hurt they correct their error in judgement. A rice-cake life that is bland, but safe, is NOT what I want for my kids. They better be curious, they better WANT to conquer a combination lock because it's a rite of passage to being in junior high, and for Big Ben's sake, they better know how to read a damn analog clock by age 11. Or else....