Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Past Deadline: Now for Today's Special- Nothing!

I don’t remember being bratty about summer boredom when I was a kid. In fact, I don’t remember being bored much before the end of August. There always seemed to be something to do – whether it was playing with neighbourhood kids or reading a book.

I remember our family camping trips and travelling and the things that used to keep me happy during long car rides waaaaay before portable DVDs and Nintendo DSIs. Indeed, if I wasn’t fighting with my brother or checking out the scenery, then I was adding to my licence plate collection in my notebook.

Yes, I would record all the licence plate numbers I saw on our travels. This was particularly exciting if they were out of province or – gasp! – out of country. I had a list of hundreds.

I’m willing to admit it’s possible I was a strange child who was easily amused.

Now that I am a parent I sometimes think my children are little space aliens and I wonder if my parents felt the same way about my brother and me. Or maybe it’s just a different world today.

Something I find about kids – and maybe it’s mine in particular – but as soon as you do something “exciting” it becomes an expectation that something “exciting” will happen every day. This turns into a pester fest (“What are we doing today, Mom? What are we doing today?”) that occasionally makes me wonder if it would simply be easier to raise them in a mushroom-like environment – in the dark and feeding them lots of…well, you know.

Just kidding! Sort of.

Boychild, for example, is at an age where it seems to take a lot to enthral him, which I find odd considering he takes great delight in talking about gastrointestinal emissions with his sister. I’ve been living with this kid for more than eight years now and I still sometimes have no idea if he is ever really impressed by anything.

Friends of ours invited us for a visit that included a ferry ride to see some giant windmills, a trip to a splash pad and a meal at a restaurant where the chef cooks in front of you and juggles eggs and sets fire to things. Both of the kids had a good time, but their favourite part of the day was frolicking in the hot tub back at our friends’ place. (Scratches head.) I guess that’s sort of like the cliché of the child enjoying the box more than the toy that was in it.

Another friend of mine sometimes comments that kids today seem to need things to be really “whammy” before they are remotely impressed. Whammy often means expensive and far away and filled with constant activity. I guess it’s hard for me to understand because if you change my scenery and park me beside a shoreline where I can stare into the water for hours and look for critters I am perfectly content but, then again, I am that easily amused person….(Nice girl, but a bit odd.)

Oh, I know, there are a handful of very simple explanations for why kids are this way – assuming it’s even considered to be a bad thing. Maybe we’re supposed to be saving up for trips into space or month-long journeys on ocean-going vessels or mountain climbing or backpacking across the universe or whatever.

“They” say kids’ brains are affected by all the flickering lights in televisions and video games and, thusly, they now require constant stimulation. Or maybe it’s just that they see too much about what is out there in the world through media and are, as a result, underwhelmed when real life shows up live and in person (I know sometimes I feel that way).

Or maybe they just need to get used to the idea that life has exciting times and not-so-exciting times. Around these-here parts we are not likely to have every moment scheduled with some sort of whammy activity. For that matter, we are not likely to have every moment scheduled – period.

After all, in my day (uphill both ways) we used to collect licence plate numbers in a notebook and we liked it. We LOVED it!

(Nice girl, but a little odd.)

Published in the Perth Courier, July 22, 2010

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