Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Doing Nothing

I feel like we've been on an extended summer break because my two kids have been home with various ailments for the better part of June. As soon as symptoms subsided, they started to tire of staying home. "I'm so bored," they would whine. I replied, "Boredom creates creativity," and left them to their own devices. Lo and behold, they quickly found things to keep themselves entertained, including solving a problem they were having with the lever mechanism of an old toy, and creating the lyrics to an original tune.

Every summer we return to Vancouver to visit my parents. And every June I start surfing the web to check out summer camps and other offerings. But I always manage to resist the urge to actually enrol in any of them. Perhaps I'm simply too lazy to drag my jetlagged body out of bed in order to get them to camp on time (flashback to July 2014 when we missed two out of five classes in one-week of ice-skating lessons that started at 1:00pm), although I would like to believe that I'm making a conscious decision to give them a schedule-free summer.

I spend the entire school year rushing my children through their day with military precision, and the entire household gets antsy when we're running behind schedule, especially at bedtime. It wouldn't be much of a holiday, for the kids as well as for me, if I had them on a schedule through the summer. In Vancouver, we can have breakfast whenever, and for however long, we want.

It's hard not to get caught up in the race to have my children acquire skills from an early age, and to devote hours to hone those skills. By not letting my children try new things in the summer, am I robbing them of the opportunity to discover some hidden talent they may have for Fencing or French, Cooking or Coding?

They have the rest of their lives to learn new sports and other activities. So these early years should be devoted to developing their sense of self. I want to give them time for unfettered play in the backyard (to intimately know that backyard and all its inhabitants), time to meet other kids in a public playground (even though they may never see them again), time to help with chores around the house (how can we teach by example if our kids aren't around us long enough to see the example we're setting?).

Grit, resilience, curiosity, integrity, EQ, AQ... I will do my best to nurture these soft skills in my children, and I'm pretty sure I can do a better job of it when I'm not shouting at them to "Hurry up!"

See my 2012 article recommending books about "Doing Nothing": http://ahwb-hk.blogspot.hk/2012/03/scmp-march-25-2012.html

Reminder to self: "Note every moment spent with my children needs to be educative or productive or a means toward some end." Deep breath. Ohmmmmm.


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