I’ll start by saying that I really don’t think it is good for children to be constantly ‘entertained’. I think it is partly this thinking that has led to the proliferation of tv and computer games in children’s lives. Don’t get me wrong, we use the computer for fun and we have some tv time but on the whole my goal is to create a home environment that emphasises play and creativity.
I think that one of the most dread phrases for a parent these days is “I’m bored.” Isn’t it our job as parents to avoid inflicting this appalling state upon our children? Are we failing if they are momentarily discontented? Luckily there are many, many, many products that can help occupy our children for every moment of every day. Until, of course, they are bored again.
My friend has a great reaction to this phrase, she’ll say “Oh if you’re bored you must have too many choices – which toys shall we put away?” her kids quickly reassure her that boredom is no longer an issue! I latched onto this idea over the summer when we cleared out our play space upstairs and shipped the majority of our toys to the basement. I have purchased some new items (for Christmas) but we are aiming for things to be more open ended, encouraging Huwyl to use his imagination and powers of discovery- something he has absolutely no problem doing!
Since Huwyl was a toddler my feeling has been that it is my job to provide the right environment, it is his job to decide what to do with it. Both Stephen and I will initiate scenarios or, more usually, play along with something he has already decided to do but, on the whole, we let him get on with it. Now that Neirin is toddling he is joining in with Huwyl and I am sure they are going to be great playmates for one another. If the boys want to work alongside us we are always happy to have them along but more often than not they will devolve into a ‘game’ of their own making.
I’ve found, to my joy, that given a shovel and the out doors Huwyl can entertain himself for quite some time. Shoveling snow, shoveling slush, shoveling mud, shoveling sand. It really is an all year round activity.
Yesterday several children were very happily engaged on our driveway with nothing more than a box of chalk, in fact they had to be dragged off to have their lunch! I love to see their imaginative creations enlivening the boring black tarmac and how much they enjoy creating art while being able to move their whole body.
In the afternoon I took out the boys and the dog for an afternoon stroll/bike ride in the glorious sunshine. Huwyl had Jujitsu in the late afternoon so I wanted to make sure he had time to be free and burn off some steam before having to be more disciplined and concentrate. It was wonderful, he rode happily, Neirin watched the world go by from the stroller and I basked in the sun. A little copse near our house is full of snow melt and so has formed a mini pond. Huwyl loved splashing and exploring, playing on the ice island in the middle. I could see that Neirin would have happily joined in if I had let him! Maybe next year…
More and more I see that the simplest of materials provide so much fun and entertainment. A box of flour, a bike, some chalk and fresh air. A winning combo. I’m so glad that we are moving into the part of the year when we can take advantage of the best entertainment system ever invented. Outside.
I know we will move towards more structured, class type activities as Huwyl gets older. There are things I can’t teach him about, so we will find people who can. There is so much I want him to know about, to see. But for now I am happy to let him spend hours creating towers that are higher than he is, garages for ‘mean car’ and ‘nice car’ and anything else that his imagination can come up with. For now and maybe a while longer we’ll give him the space to find out what his mind can do, to discover the depth of his own resourcefulness.
And my role in all this? I’m just along for the ride.