My kids don’t believe me when I say it’s good to get bored, but they’re improving at their ability to transform a blank page or an empty afternoon into something interesting. This month, they’ve been using their creativity and resourcefulness to find their way out of boredom, which I’d posit is an important life lesson. Below are some of the fruits of their unstructured days.
For the library’s summer reading program, my eight-year-old collected leaves from nearby trees and looked up the name of each one. He documented it in the following manner:
We can now tell you the difference between a sugar maple and a silver maple. After he finished this, we have found and looked up the names of four other leaves as well. The learning continues.
Word has spread that we have some Lego artists in this household, and so my two sons were enlisted to help finish up a Lego mural. They ended up reworking the whole thing. Don’t you like that eagle?
Then there was the chalk dinosaur, ready to gobble up all cars coming toward our home on Cumberland Street. He’s wearing away little by little, but the remnants still give us something to talk about.
Our 11-year-old has been working on creating his latest game, “Battle of the Fort.” He sometimes complains about the limitations of Tynker and how he can’t code all the things he’d like to. Most of the time I don’t fully grasp what he’s talking about – coding is a language all its own – but I’m glad he’s been developing his abstract reasoning and problem solving skills. With animation, the picture below occasionally has some lightning in the background.
We’re also making memories, with many of the typical activities of summer like pick up soccer games at Lexington Park, swimming at Como Pool, and weekly visits to the library. They make me smile when they can’t even wait till we leave the library before they start in on their new book selections (though also a bit concerned about their safety due to an apparent lack of awareness of their surroundings when walking while reading).
“I honestly like being read to more than reading,” our 11-year-old said after I put down the Michael Vey book that I’ve been reading aloud to him and his brother. He’s a quick and capable reader, so it’s not because it’s difficult to read a book like this himself. But I think he means there’s something very compelling about a shared story, a story that we can analyze together, make predictions about, and keep talking about, long after the book is done. It’s especially gratifying when you’ve found a book with strong, likable characters, a good plot, and themes like loyalty and courage.
brightening our afternoon
just by being there
“Good-bye is always hello to something else. Good-bye/hello, good-bye/hello, like the sound of a rocking chair.” – George Ella Lyon
This month we said good-bye to store-bought lettuce and hello to garden-fresh lettuce. The leaf lettuce volunteered in our plot this year, getting established in the cool spring before I got around to working the ground. I couldn’t bear to hoe it all up, so I left seven plants that were sort of clustered together. Since then, the sunshine and rain have tended them well.
Also in June, our oldest said good bye to his elementary school. “Earlier in the week, I thought I would be happy when school’s done. But now, I’m not so sure,” our fifth grader said in the car on the way home from school on his last Friday at Chelsea Heights Elementary. This fall, it’s hello middle school, but he’s going to put that thought off for a while. (Me too.)
We said good-bye to the school year routine. Hello, free time. The boys have enjoyed extended Lego-building sessions and have some great creations to show for it. Plus we’ve done a few of the things on our “someday” list, like a birding walk at the Bell Museum and a road trip to the Caddie Woodlawn House with my sister. The best part of that day turned out to be the visit to Devil’s Punchbowl and the “secret” waterfalls a bit farther down the road that we’d never have known about if we hadn’t stopped to ask for directions.
pink apple blossoms
so fragrant and so fragile
grace our yard each May
delicate spheres wait
for a breeze to send them forth
to unknown environs
Tender rhubarb stalks
grow in these cool, sunny days
as we dream of pie.
Hosta leaves unfurl,
A spring treat for browsing deer.
We could eat them too.
signaling spring’s arrival
and sparking smiles.
Spring in Minnesota includes all kinds of weather. On Monday it was sunny and 66 degrees. In contrast, here is a view of our yard this afternoon:
We aren’t surprised by snow days in April. We just roll with ’em – and remind ourselves that in a little over a month this tree will be filled with fragrant pink blossoms.
And we savor the memories from exactly a week ago, memories of hiking among the red rocks in Sedona, Arizona.
More than one family member noted it was a pity that our trip hadn’t been for two weeks instead of one, but we fill this day off with reading, shoveling snow, playing the Lego game, vacuuming, baking, washing dishes, and finishing taxes. These things too can be extraordinary when we make them so.