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What do we do all day?

March 5th, 2005 · 1 Comment

Laura described the restlessness of snow days spent at home:

When the class parent called this morning to announce the cancellation of school, she groaned. “What am I going to do with them today?,” the parent wondered.

I have dressed and undressed the kids three times for the outside; shoveled the driveway; did a puzzle; made breakfast, snack, lunch; read stories; given timeout; drove in a large circle for a carnap; and wiped tears.

There are something like 8 million home schoolers out there. I admire the parents who do that. It’s hard work, and homeschooled kids seem to be doing quite well. Hats off to them, but that’s so, so not for me.

Laura’s post reminded me of a revelation I received before I had children. One day, as I was preparing to babysit for a friend, I confessed that I sometimes didn’t know what to do with kids. I felt ashamed, as if this must make me a lousy sitter and potential parent. However, my friend replied that sometimes she didn’t know what to do with her child either. Amazed, I felt comforted that parents could be as clueless as I was, wondering what to do as the minutes passed.

Katherine began a list in a post titled And for my next trick

I will simultaneously satisfy all of the following roles:

administrative assistant
ceramic/metal cleansing technician
child development specialist
child psychologist
guidance counselor

The list continued. In the comments, I added a few of my own and Katherine’s husband noted which roles he preferred…;-)

Bernie DeKoven inspired me yet again with this one:

Yeah, this “making a game out of it” idea – it’s something we need to talk about, a lot. It’s probably the first step towards making things more fun, or at least more endurable.

There’s a next step I’d like to invite us to meditate on for a while. I think it’s deeper, or steeper, or something, because it’s not as inviting. But I think it might take us to an even happier place. And that’s the step we take to discover the fun that is already there, in the things we don’t really want to do. Take dusting, for example. Or washing dishes, even. There’s something almost fun about it. I admit, you have to do a lot of looking. But it’s there. OK, maybe you have to, so to speak, lower the proverbial fun threshold, but at the heart of it is a kind of peace, a quiet, a time away. And during that time away, there’s the reward of things getting done, of watching the dust go away, of seeing the light return, the shine, the sparkle of rightness. And when it’s over, and you come back to whatever awaits, it’s almost as if you’ve been someplace else, some deep, quiet, bright place, all your very own. A place where you were having something very much like fun.

Tags: family

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 david parmet // Mar 6, 2005 at 6:16 pm

    I once thought – or at least once my elders told me so – that if I studied hard and really pushed myself I would find a situation in life where I wouldn’t have to be a short order cook, waiter or chauffeur.

    Now with three pre-schoolers I am a short order cook, waiter and chauffeur.

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