Kids need to be ignored sometimes. To be dragged where they don’t want to go. I’m that mom that tells my kids they must be boring if they tell me they’re bored.
They groan to that, but also finds something to do.
Ignoring the groans, I think, is part of our job as parent. Coddling them only encourages continued boredom. Giving in never allows them to figure it out on their own. Especially if the fix is turning on a tv or handing over an iPad.
Sure, sometimes turning on the TV is easier. Sometimes it is what saves your sanity as a parent. But more often than not, if the TV option is not a given, the kids will find something to absorb themselves in.
This all comes to me as I look through our summer photos and I realize that some of our best moments began with groans.
“I don’t want to do that.”
“I don’t want to go there.”
Or a simply stated “Ugh.”
Best moments full of imagination and adventure that never would have happened had I catered to the groan.
What do you see when you see this picture?
A beautiful scene?
I see all of those things. And more. I see the story of our day that brought us to moment captured. I see Kaya pouting that she didn’t want to bike. I see Brennyn wailing after yet another fall on her bike. I see my anxiety and nagging to stay on the shoulder while biking on the road. Then I see the green, the trees, the moods of all of us brighten. I see Brennyn’s determination to master the roots, Kaya’s singing as she walks her bike over those same roots, and my marveling at my two unique kids. I see finding this beach, being impressed at the amount of fishermen, watching a couple fish be caught and all of us attempting cartwheels in the soft sandy beach. I remember getting ready to call the girls that it was time to carry on but when I look up, see this moment. Two sisters, playing, plotting, imagining and sharing. So I sit myself in that soft sandy beach and just watch. For 40 minutes they build castles, destroy castles, surf, leap, splash and laugh. Fully immersed in play with nature as their toy.
Did you know that directly beside this stage is a playground? Opposite, a water park. Alongside, a grassy hill to roll. Just as I start to get annoyed at their whining about the water being too cold in the waterpark, they run off to this stage and this is where they spend most of their time. Creating plays and dances and enchanting musicals. Their audience may have been one, but to them it may as well have been thousands.
On this day, we get out at one of our favourite places to breakfast, only to find jackhammering going on at the bridge beside our normally peaceful respite. Kaya immediately complains it’s too loud and wants to leave. Brennyn concurs. I can’t say as I blame them, but tell them I’m going to grab a coffee first. Sometimes all that is required is a little time and space to get used to a thing. Oh, and a fabulous tire swing never hurts. Again, we ended up staying for an hour and ordering a full breakfast.
Depending on family dynamics, kids will often lead the way in finding imaginary play to keep them occupied. In our family, my kids sometimes need a suggestion or new environment to get the ball rolling. Then watch out as they take off into Imaginary Galaxies! On this day, one little suggestion that the fairies must love this spot sends them off to create a full fairy sand land.
This is another day they moaned about my plans for a riverside picnic. Too bad, I tell them, we’re going, in that tone they know means don’t mess with mamma. Of course, as soon as we arrive, they are immersed in sand and stick play. We watch at least a dozen fish be caught, then wander until finding this huge open sand bar and wow, I could not drag these kids out of here and when I did, only with the promise that we would be back soon. Sand angels, falling on a tilt-a-world (like in the book A Faraway Tree), gymnastics, fairies, Star Wars and space, they played hard.
And you know, sometimes TV is a good thing. Sometimes us parents need it, sometimes the kids do. And when they can take what they saw, and use it for imaginative play later, all the better. Here they are, building their very own ‘Little House on the Prairie’ Brennyn is Carrie the baby, Kaya is Mary, and though I plead my case to be Laura, Kaya insists I be Ma. Boo!
Kids are going to whine and moan. Sometimes our role as parents is to guide to another way. But sometimes it is to ignore their woes. For only then will they let their minds soar.
Groans to grow.