Don't Forget to Waste Time

How old are you? If you are around my age; a child of the 50s or 60s, you may remember long aimless bike rides, endless hours by the lake or pool, whole afternoons spent in a hammock with a book. Or maybe you're a city kid and spent summers on the stoop in day- long conversation with the same friends you'd talk to the day before. You'd come in for supper to the usual:

“Where have you been?”
“Nowhere.”
“What have you been doing?”
“Nuthin'”

Do kids waste time any more? Perhaps it's impossible now. With both parents needing to work, with the lack of unscheduled time and the pressure to succeed, maybe there's no space for children to “waste” their summer.

I urge parents; don't over-schedule summer. Even in our performance driven society, surely, one sports team membership, one “enriching” activity is enough. Don't be afraid of your children sometimes doing “nothing”. And by nothing, I don't mean watching TV or playing video games. I mean breathing, looking, listening, dreaming. Childhood and summer is so short, make sure they get to “waste” at least a little of it.

2 Responses to "Don't Forget to Waste Time"

Heron responded on June 13, 2008 at 1:32 PM #

When we were young, our Mom used to 'teach' us during the summer - usually subjects or issues that I could tell she desparately wanted us to know. One summer, we tried to memorize the Gettysburg Address. Another summer we read To Kill a Mockingbird.
No matter how interesting or cultural significant the 'lesson' was, however, it felt like work. My brother and I would whine and procastinate, just like during the school year. And I would personally dread that moment in the day where Mom would catch me doing 'nothing' and ask me if I wanted something to do.
While letting your kids do nothing is valuable - you can offer them a little incentive to do that nothing outside by making a few constructive suggestions. I promise that they will soon find one thousand other things to do than the thing they 'must' do. I didn't like playing alone in my room, but I ran there aS soon as I suspected another forced recital of Lincoln's words was on the horizon.

On the other hand, I still remember the first half of the Gettysburg Address.

Emercenary responded on June 17, 2008 at 8:38 AM #

Yes! to this day, I remember at least 2 or 3 lines of the gettysburg address. You taught us well, mom.