Jacob and I reacted differently to our March break activities. Jacob spent one day in a community garden with my Dad and sent this text to Kevin: “Well I had to get rid of a moldy wet smelly slippery broccoli plant without gloves.” (I love that he had to do that.) On the day he spent in a JK class with my brother, I got a text-photo of Jacob on a rocking chair with two boys climbing on him as he read to them. It was beautiful. I wondered if Jacob had found his calling and would become a teacher like most of our family? Not.
That night, we heard this: the kids “were all over me… and they don’t even wash their hands!” I asked him what he thought of teaching, and he scolded, “Do you know how tiring that job is??!!”
(Naturally, I really loved this reaction too. Maybe he won’t become a teacher, but he did get a taste of the real world.)
When we asked the kids what they wanted to do this March break – and travelling was not an option for us – they said they wanted to “relax.” (This made me feel everything BUT relaxed. But I gave it a try and only scheduled three days.)
When I got home from work on their first “day off”, they were in front of the TV in their PJs, with their iPods in their hands. (I was miffed.)
Mom: Did you read today?
Kids: Not yet.
Mom: Did you make muffins with the bananas I left out?
Mom: Did you fold the laundry?
Kids: You didn’t ask.
Mom: Did you eat anything other than cereal?
Kids: There is no food in the house.
Mom: But I told you to make home-made pizzas and everything is in the fridge!
Then I decided to share what was really bothering me: “You cannot live your life like this! You need to do something useful with your time!”
Seems like this is an age-old debate in our house – how much do we schedule our kids? And how much do we try to influence their down time? I believe that kids should have unscheduled time. I believe that some of life’s best learning comes when days are full of nothing. Don’t you then discover your real self? But I would like them to choose books and hikes…. not TV and iPods.
So I asked Jacob how he planned to spend the next day. I thought if I encouraged him to think it through, he would make good choices. He looked bewildered and said, “I’m going to hang out.” I tried to explain that time is precious and he should use it wisely. He questioned, “Are you telling me that doctors and lawyers didn’t hang out when they were kids on March break?”
On our way home from skiing yesterday, I asked the kids to name the highlight of their break. We did some great things – but their list didn’t resemble my list. At all. Both agreed that what they liked most was “hanging out”. And that made me crazy.
But then they also agreed: they are looking forward to heading back to school. And that makes me wonder if they might know best….