The kids have been home all summer and with the exception of 2 weeks at camp, have been home. Ahhh --- summer. I remember summer as a kid - finding my friends in the morning then setting off for a day of playing in the creek that ran thru our neighborhood, riding bikes, building forts to hide in, hours of freeze tag and hide-n-go-seek, riding my bike (gulping a drink of water from the water hose), running through the fields and neighbors' backyards, climbing trees, jumping in the water sprinkler, playing on the swingset, catching lightnin' bugs til my mom finally called us in after dark.
And I watch my kids - watching TV, playing Wii, building a home for their Webkinz, listening to their MP3 players. When I suggest they go outside, they get out their bikes or scooters, ride once around the cul-de-sac, then come in for a bottle of Gator-Ade and finish watching the TV show, some episode they've seen about 15 times this week. When they're friends come over, after a call to their moms, careful planning of drop-off and pick-up time, and discussion of food allergies, I prod them outside, they swing 10 times on the playground, then parade in for a snack and some juice. Then they head to the DVD case to select a movie. And ask for popcorn.
So I instituted a new rule because I know the day will come when they won't have 2 months off in the summer to lounge around and enjoy the beauty of a sunny day and freedom to do whatever you want. I know that repeat episodes of Hannah Montana don't make for long lasting summer memories. I know that drinking Gator-ade, after playing Wii in an air-conditioned den doesn't count as a healthy activity. The new rule is - no TV during daylight. When the alternative is going outside and enjoying the summer, I don't want to hear any noise or see the lights of the television. I want my kids to enjoy the freedom of summer.
We live at the beach in the summer - our development has several mini-beaches along the bay, a fountain designed for kids to run in, a pond full of frogs and ducks. There is a gate so they can't escape onto the main road. The speed limit is pretty slow and the streets are pretty safe. in the garage is fishing nets, scooters, kites, and balls. You would think that I wouldn't be able to find my kids, right? Especially with the new no TV during daylight rule. At the moment, they are sitting on the couch, waiting for me or Dad to come up with something for them to do. Which I am refusing to do.
How does a parent encourage creativity? How can you force your kids to use, to develop, an imagination that takes them out of the comfort of the living room and electronic controls? How do you push your kids into the outdoors to look for frogs? How do they learn to brush off a scraped knee and keep on going? How do kids learn to turn the next corner on their own? How do you teach your child independence and wonder?