We have reached the end of the season I like to call Death by a Thousand Sign-up Geniuses. Teacher appreciation week, the ice cream social, and zoo field trips are behind us. For ten weeks, we will be free from requests to bring, buy, chaperone, and chip in.
And now I must face my weightiest choice: whether to let my kids spend the summer in front of screens or to let them destroy my house and yard. Do I let them kill brain cells on Netflix or do I allow them to conscript every item we own into “creative” endeavors?
Long experience has shown me that, at least for my children, these are the only two options. If there is no screen, they will not play in a pleasant or organized way. They will proceed immediately to enact outlandish, fantastical scenarios in my previously orderly home.
Oh, sure, I know what the experts would say. Vive la creativité! Fan those flames of imagination and see where they lead!
But here’s the thing. I know where they lead. Straight to
great personal suffering pandemonium. Without fail, they lead here:
While you are being treated to moans of “I’m bored,” I will be hearing urgent cries for “a feather boa and a staple gun!”
And “Mom, can we go to the store RIGHT NOW? All I need is the flag of Burundi and doll-size pantaloons!” Day after day, I will receive
ominous exultant calls of “Mom, come see what we made!” as I slowly give in to despair.
So, you see, this trading in screen time for “open-ended, free play” is a fool’s bargain. And you know who the fool is?
That’s right. Why, oh why, did I not have the good sense to get a full-time job so that we could have both the money and the excuse for day camp??
Want to know how I feel as a summer at home with my “imaginative children” looms? Exactly like this:
As though a large, cold water balloon is about to break over my head. And there is nowhere to run, no shelter to seek.
I depend on your prayers.
Laura Goetsch and Thinking about Such Things, 2017.