I want to take the time to enjoy the summer. How about you?
Allowing myself to do nothing sometimes sparks the most amazing ideas.
I recently hosted a French 13 year old for four weeks in my home. I love bringing people of different cultures into the house. Being in close quarters allows me to get to know someone, their character, their preferences and their habits. It gives me perspective. I get to be someone else’s Mom for a short period.
This is the second time I have done it. The first was an eleventh grader from Germany who stayed for six months. She was a very different character from the boy this summer. Both were a joy to have in my home.
I noticed something this time that got me wondering about children in relation to technology, adventure and boredom.
Summer is a great time for children to relax . It can be a time free from the hectic schedules to which they are subjected. The weather offers great opportunities for swimming, biking, walking around and even getting into trouble. It is often the time to travel and explore new places.
It is a time to schedule nothing.
Boredom can offer an impetus to dream, to imagine, to create and to take action from a need to fulfill some longing. For an adult, boredom just doesn’t happen. That time space is usually superseded with the need to get things done. It gets filled with stuff.
When children have the space to be bored, they invent and create out of necessity to fill the void. They rally up friends to hang out or make friends with the neighbor for lack of someone else. They bake something, make something or start messing around on the piano.
They walk out the door to go get ice cream or walk to the park. They get the skateboard out, jump on the trampoline or play with the dog.
They create neighborhood businesses, make lemonade stands or try to sew something.
They have time to think. They have time to ponder. They have time to notice the clouds drifting by or the sound of Aspen trees fluttering in the wind. They can lay by the river and start to understand motion, physics, and light.
They can experience nature and the vibration it has to offer in and of itself.
My God, this sounds like the 1970’s.
A foreigner can take in a totally different culture just by walking around, looking at the people, the cars, the plants and the architecture. Getting out, taking the bus, running an errand where they might have to practice their English is an eye opening experience.
I may not have been a pianist if it weren’t for boredom. I wouldn’t have felt the freedom of going off on the bike with no plan. I wouldn’t have wondered why coquinas bury themselves in the sand once I dug them up. I wouldn’t have improved my tennis game with my beloved backboard or taught myself to sail a boat.
I may not have gotten into so much trouble…
The bottom line is if I had had that damn phone in my hand twenty four seven I may never have left my room. Everything that it offers takes away the void and the necessity. It fills every second with something and it is tantalizing. It is instant gratification. It requires no patience. It substitutes human interaction.
When left to their own discretion, children won’t put it down.
I realized that I wasn’t hearing, “I’m bored. What can I do?” from the French kid or my daughter.
and then, I blinked and blinked and I got very quiet and I got very sad.
I then took action and took away the phone for extended periods and at bedtime altogether,
He may hate me now, but at least he got bored and he saw America.
Enjoy your downtime!!!
Until next week,