Column - We should learn from Jackson's sad storyChildhood cannot be “skipped.” When it is, complications gather like hungry wolves. Poor Michael Jackson. It’s no wonder he founded “Neverland,” an amusement park, an artificial paradise, where he could act out with other children what he never had, what was denied to him with such cruelty.
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
Childhood cannot be “skipped.” When it is, complications gather like hungry wolves.
Poor Michael Jackson. It’s no wonder he founded “Neverland,” an amusement park, an artificial paradise, where he could act out with other children what he never had, what was denied to him with such cruelty.
In an interview, Jackson said his father beat him often while he and his brothers were practicing their singing, their dance steps. Later, the father admitted, yes, he had whipped Michael with a switch or a belt, but he said he didn’t “beat” him because “beating is something you do with a stick.”
Poor Michael. He didn’t have a chance.
Where was Michael’s mother when that cruel song-and-dance ritual was being perpetrated? Where were other adults who should have expressed immediate outrage or called the proper authorities?
In a TV interview some years ago, which I saw for the first time last week, Jackson said he used to be taken as a young boy to a recording studio. He would pass a playground where children were playing, and he would start crying because he wanted to play. But, no, he was told time and again he had to go sing, go dance, go record.
It’s ironic such an abused child later became one of the greatest entertainers in world history. But think of the human cost, the terrible derailment, the wreckage,
If there is a lesson to be learned from the Michael Jackson tragedy, it is this: Let children be children, let them play, let them enjoy their innocent years. There are those pathetic video clips of little Jon Benet Ramsey gussied up like a pint-sized adult, singing and dancing in contests. What is supposed to be “cute” is woefully “sad,” and not just because Jon Benet was later murdered. It’s because, long before her death, she was a victim of a stage mama. Parents should never, ever push their children onto the stage.
Too many children are pressured by parents, peers or this predatory money-mad culture to “grow up” before they’re ready. Girls and boys who are 9 or 10 now look and act as if they’re 16 or 17, alarmingly so. They’re skipping their childhood years, their formative development, for that reckless plunge into young adulthood – or what they mistakenly think is adulthood – that stage in life when you can do anything you want at any time. Yeah, right!
In their crazy hurry for that illusionary freedom, so many children have forgotten how to play. And child play, as in the animal kingdom, is a vital prerequisite for a happy life. Playing is how children learn how to inter-relate socially, how to problem-solve, how to use imagination, how to give-and-take, how to develop good sportsmanship and compassion for others.
Playing video games at home for hours on end is not healthy “playing.” True play is a social, in-person interaction. It’s board games, it’s outdoor fun like sledding, softball, starlight-moonlight, hide-and-seek, hopscotch, tag, captain-may-I, pom-pom pullaway, cowboys and Indians, treehouse-building. Most of those play-time activities have become extinct, sadly. Maybe there are new ones to take their place? Let’s hope so.
Michael Jackson, robbed of his childhood, would probably have traded all of his fame and fortune to regain that lost chance for happy playtime in days of carefree innocence. It’s obvious that particular loss nagged, hounded and haunted him to the end of his days.
All parents should listen and learn from the tragic Jackson story. Let children be themselves, do not pressure them, do not stage-manage them. Let them play!