Thursday, January 10, 2008

Scheduling Crisis

"I just don't know about this half day kindergarten bit," I overheard a young mother lamenting to her friend. "He comes home from school and eats lunch, but then the afternoon just stretches out in front of us forever," as she feigned a dramatic collapse. Her friend smiled and nodded sympathetically, "I know what you mean. There are a few library programs or occasional swim lessons, but really, what are we supposed to do to keep our kids entertained for all that time between lunch and dinner?"

I looked around at my own three little ones wandering about my feet. One was busying himself with the contents of the diaper bag and the other two had created an impromptu game involving princesses and some derivation of ring-around-the-rosy. Was I, or more importantly, my children missing something in the afternoon hours spent at home with me, their pint-sized calendars full of white space?

As I gathered my brood to leave, I overheard the son of the distraught mother whining to her, "Mommy, what are we going to do now???" And my heart went out to her as I saw her shrug her weary shoulders and gesture to her friend, "See what I mean?"

When did it become our role as parents to also act as cruise directors for a ship ready to mutiny if our activity schedule doesn't entertain 24-7?

My older children recall not the time spent with me at some exotic location or trendy kidspot, but the memories born of a lazy afternoon where boredom provided inspiration. They remember walking through our yard, barren but for a dozen or so young saplings to check on their growth and discovering--much to our surprise--a family of birds nesting within. They remember their decision to hand wash the car on a hot summer's day that turned into a full-blown water fight. They remember the time we opted to take all of the recycling boxes in the house and turn them into makeshift doll (and in the case of the larger boxes-people) houses. There have been tea parties, picnics, story times and containers of play-doh that have wrought bonds stronger than any super-glue could ever hope to do. And there have been quiet times talking, sharing memories or poking around my old jewelry drawer as they tried on their great grandmother's engagement ring and pondered their connection to someone whom they only know from pictures.

Have my kids missed out? I don't think so. And when they get older, I hope they'll look back and say they agree.


Barb, sfo said...

AMEN!! My kids never belonged to kindergarten sports teams or took lessons of any kind before 3rd grade. But they know how to make a castle out of a refrigerator box, and how to build a bunker with the couch cushions....they're definitely better off.


Here is what hours of NOTHING look like at our house:

My 4-yr-old (almost 5 y.o.) son loves "PJ days" and dreaming up magical adventures as a pirate, a knight, a pilot, a racecar drive, a chef or as he says "whatever I want to be". He grabs the chalk to attempt to make a place to play hop-scotch or dizzies himself ride his bike in circles. He loves to fold the laundry, empty the dishwasher and set the table (I know that won't last). Our basement is frequently an obstacle course full of roads, "pit-stops" and homemade bridges for cars. He can sit for hours and recite Abiyoyo -- his current favorite story. A stick can be anything from Harry Potter's wand that banishes the dog from the swing set, to a catepillar walkway to help investigate nature.

I am not a SAHM, but my husband and I are privledged to alternate work from home days and have a lovely helper for a few hours in the morning. We only wish for hours of time to do "NOTHING".

We pray our son too, like your children, looks back and remembers "all that time between lucnh and dinner" with fond and happy memories.

Anonymous said...

Amen! I think all 5 of my kids can quickly conjur up memories from their childhood of those "between unch and dinner" times. Times of anything from being a fireman and waering their Dad's Army boots and my brass floor lamp as a "brass pole" to playing with the box the refrigerator came day it was a castle, one day a fort, one day a doll house and even a place to sleep.

May God bless those who feel the need to fill their child's social calendar, and may God bless those of us who just let children do what comes naturally...BE CHILDREN!


patjrsmom said...

Thank you all for your words of support! It is nice to know that I'm not alone!

God bless,


Kristina said...

Being "bored" gives my children time to use their wonderful imaginations and think of something to do. It is amazing what they can come up with if just given a little time.

Kids are missing out on so much when they don't have blank space to fill or just sit and think.