It's Summer, and like thousands of other Moms out there, all I want to do is open the front door and say to my kids, "go outside and play." Mommy has "work to do" or wants to play Candy Crush if I can get away with it. No really, I'm a big proponent of unstructured outdoor play. I have fond memories of the carefree summers of my own childhood playing until dark and ignoring my mother's calls to come in until she got to the three name stage (using my first, middle and last name). Then, I knew it was timeto come in.
So, it pains me to hear my son say he does not want to play outside because he's not a "sports kid" or that he's an "inside kid." He says he only wants to play Legos or, if I allow it, video games. When he first said this to me, I was flabbergasted. Where did he learn it? I've always encouraged (read "insisted") that the kids play outside on a regular basis. It's good for them, good for Mommy and up until recently, he liked doing it. When he was smaller, he loved to play outside for hours, especially in the snow. So where is this new "anti-outside" notion coming from? Television? The kids at school? I haven't a clue. All I know is that it's not a passing phase and seems to be here to stay.
What do I do?
Give in? Keep pushing? I don't have the answer. Could I get some opinions about what to do from the "experts"? Probably. But, at the end of the day, it's just advice not fact. We're dealing with human beings and behaviors which are as individual as your fingerprint or a snowflake. No two are alike or even predictable. I could push the issue and my son could acquiesce or he could just as easily push back harder and get more entrenched in his position. I am, like the rest of the Moms and Dads out there, operating by trial and error. Do I sometimes get the feeling that I'm part of a parental laboratory experiment and I'm the scientist tinkering with my young Frankensteins? Yes.
"No foods with red dye, it'll make him hyper." Really?
"Have you tried the Ferber method?" I'll try anything at this point!
"Baby Einstein videos are beneficial for early childhood development." Not.
"Time outs work the best." Not always.
"1-2-3 Magic." Parenting magic in one little book.
On and on. We're molding and shaping a human being here and they don't come with a manual? Who thought of that bright idea? Talk about complicated and frustrating. Even the VCR from the 1980s came with a manual and THAT was complicated.
My point is, for every kid there will be a right answer but it may take a lot of tinkering to find it and you may not even realize until years later that you found the right answer.
So, what am I going to do in the meantime? Do what I always do--strive for balance and keep finding ways to entice him outside. Maybe some of those indoor toys have to come outside if that's what it takes--even if they get chewed up by the lawn mower the following week. And maybe hours of Legos aren't so bad as I look at the hundreds of pictures in my Picasa album of his "creations." Plus, video games, in moderation, aren't really going to "fry" his brain. I have to remind myself that this same brain just informed me that the Romans invented concrete and used it in building the Colosseum which he learned by devouring the books I bring home from the library about volcanos, the solar system, and, of course, the one about ancient Rome. There is something to be said for being an "inside" kid.
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