SERIOUSLY, MOM, THERE'S NOTHING TO DO: Some thoughts on my latest FROG book.
I have busy kids. On top of soccer and violin and cello and piano and Hebrew studies, I have kids who LIKE to DO things. They have trouble being idle, and because of the aforementioned out-of-the-house activities, they love to be home. DOING SOMETHING AMAZING. Sometimes, this leads to something like this: A handmade, cardboard, Barbie house which is nicer, by a mile, than any apartment I've ever lived in. They're masters of hot glue, elaborate baking projects, macrame, Sculpy, painting, and jewelry making. They have an art cabinet filled with supplies. They have games, toys, rooms, books, you name it. But still, when an AMAZING idea of what to do on a given, free day doesn't materialize...they say THERE'S NOTHING TO DO. So this book comes straight from the floor of my house where they often lie in agony.
Below, behold a catalog of the myriad choices my kids have of things to DO.
They're not lazy. They don't want to do NOTHING. This is an important distinction. They want to do SOMETHING. They just don't know what.
I drive my kids nuts by waxing poetic for the 1970s childhood I had, or I think I had- since I'm fairly certain I'm romanticizing some bits. But I do know that if I howled "THERE'S NOTHING TO DO", my mom would open the garage door and find my purple two-wheeler parked next to the PINTO, wheel it out and tell me to be home by dark. I'd go to the pocket park nearby and hang out there or bike in loops around the edges. Our area didn't have a lot of kids, but on the plus side, I had the park to myself! My point is, my parents weren't real concerned if I was adrift, as long as they didn't hear about it too much.
There is something to be said for just being. No, I don't really expect kids to meditate. But I do notice that we haven't even gotten on the freeway for a road trip and they're knee deep in an app or a book or whatever. They miss those moments of transition and change, the clarity of thought you get when you're moving through your own life and paying a little attention. Or even spacing out, processing something, somewhere in your brain- even if you don't know what it is.
There's a value in nothing. We touch on those moments as a family, as we laze around on our deck, but it's nearly always fleeting. We're a busy family. We're a busy society. We work a lot. We organize. We stay up until midnight to enroll our kids in camps.
So, THERE'S NOTHING TO DO is a reminder to me, as a person and a parent, to just be sometimes. And also how funny rabbits are...at least when Mike Boldt draws them staring off into space.