Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Lost Art of Doing Nothing

I know adults tend to romanticize their childhoods somewhat. Especially our summers. Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer where life was one long stretch of time with not enough stuff to do to fill it. Now I know that's not entirely true. Many kids had to work long hours on parents farms or family businesses. But, even though I do remember the work, I also remember that there wasn't this rush, rush kind of feeling that I think is happening too much with today's generation of kids. Get up early to get to this camp, come home and run to this practice, take this lesson, plan a play date, whatever but make sure every minute of every hour is scheduled with SOMETHING to do. Even when it's summer.

After a weekend getaway to the cottage I got to thinking about my kids and what they'll remember about their summers. My first daughter was put into a lot of summer camps up until she was thirteen or so. We don't have much family around here so all she got for down time in the summer was a one or two week stint on my parents farm or a one or two week vacation with us. Same thing with Daughter Two. By the time The Boy arrived the girls were sick of camps. The Boy went to a few but this year he rebelled. When we asked him what one or two week camps he wanted to attend (swimming? Golf? Tennis?) he said, "I just want to be bored this summer."

I totally get that. The Boy is so overscheduled during the school year I'm not surprised he's burnt out. Plus, he's more of an introvert and needs quiet down time to recharge his batteries. School takes a lot out of him and add to that the three times a week he's at Tae Kwon Do and the 4 or 5 times a week he's at hockey the kid gets wiped. So, when he wanted to do 'nothing' this summer I said okay. But nothing still includes three times a week Tae Kwon Do, a weekly hockey treadmill session to improve his stride, and one 3 on 3 hockey game Wednesday nights. Compared to his regular schedule that's cake. Still, during the day he's free (a minimal amount of chores notwithstanding).

Last night, I was supposed to take him to Tae Kwon Do but when I got home he wasn't there. His sister said he'd gone to a particular friend's house but when I called he wasn't there. Not unusual for The Boy to take off to one place on his bike and end up at another without calling us to let us know (a horrible habit we can't seem to break him of). So, with 15 minutes until the Tae Kwon Do class I'm driving through the neighbourhood searching for him, silently cursing his irresponsibility under my breath and trying not to let images of strangers kidnapping my son off the street enter my anxious brain. I find him at a local park. The sun is just about to lower behind the trees so the light is hazy and the park is speckled with shade from the surrounding trees. There are people playing tennis, a few mom's and their babies are in the playground area and there, sitting on the swings is The Boy dragging his flip flops through the sand, talking with a neighbourhood girl we haven't seen in a while. His friend is also beside him doing the same thing, staring into space. All their bikes are jumbled in a heap on the grass. It is one of those 'moments' that makes me flash back to a feeling of my childhood summers - that lazy, kind of bored, but comfortable sensation of not having to go anywhere, just hanging out, talking with a friend, probably asking each other "What do you guys want to do?" and no one having any idea. Just. Doing. Nothing.

I didn't make him go to Tae Kwon Do (for which I got heck from my husband. Oh, well.)

I did make him go home and cut the grass because he didn't tell me where he'd been since 2 p.m.

There is a time for doing nothing and I'm glad The Boy is experiencing that. There is also a time to do chores. After all, it's never too late to teach kids about trying to have balance in your life. :)


  1. I remember lazy summer days as a child. Honestly, I felt a little better if I had a little something to do, though. A balance is necessary.

    Have a great weekend.

  2. Man, I loved those lazy, summer days when I was a kid. After a busy school year, it was so nice to have what seemed like all the time in the world to read, and just BE.

    You're a good mom. :)