“Our parents were not responsible for entertaining us. If we dared to mutter those two words, “I’m bored,” we would be handed a chore.”
What a good point. I was reading I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical with a bit of concern until I came upon the above quote. Then I thought, “She’s right”. Her stance is not that childhood should not be magical. Her stance is that the every nature of childhood is magical and if we’d just get out of the way, our children could learn to experience the magical in everyday things.
When we make life a grand production, our children become audience members and their appetite for entertainment grows. Are we creating a generation of people who cannot find the beauty in the mundane?
Do we want to teach our children that the magic of life is something that comes beautifully gift-wrapped — or that magic is something you discover on your own?
The most magical times from my childhood have to do with lazy afternoons and unexpected adventure:
- Reading on the couch with my mom.
- Building a fort from old boxes in the back yard.
- Exploring my grandma’s garage for anything I could play with.
- Painting the sidewalk in front of my house to make a “street” for my bike.
Most days I was left to find something to do by myself. My adult family were not considered playmates, but I had tons of kids on my block to fulfill that role. We spent time together at drive-in movies and snuggled up in bed Sunday mornings reading the newspaper, playing Scrabble and drinking tea but I never thought that my adult family members should be entertaining me.
None of this negates the importance of time spent as a family, but there is a huge difference between focusing on being together and focusing on the construction of an “activity.” One feels forced and is based on a pre-determined goal, while the other is more natural and relaxed. The immense pressure that parents put on themselves to create ethereal experiences is tangible.
As we embark on adding children to our family, this article makes me think about the kind of memories I want my child(ren) to have and the kind of expectations I want them to grow up with. Maybe making childhood magical shouldn’t be up to me.