My son is spoiled. Or rather undisciplined. Whichever one makes me sound like the better parent, pick that one.
I actually base a lot of my parenting on my own childhood. I don’t mean the way that I was parented, although I’m sure I have some traits that resemble my own parents and their style (hello, yelling). I base it off of the way I felt as a child and how I wanted to be treated. I’m pretty far removed from my childhood now but not so far that I don’t remember all the fun and joy and frustration that came with it.
Herein lies the problem.
I was child of the 70s and the problems I faced were in the company of three other siblings. We didn’t complain that we had no one to play with because there was always someone you could pair up with. My sister would often play with my older brother so I’d just spend time alone messing up my room (funny, I think I still do this). If my brother was off reading science fiction novels, I could usually convince my sister to play Barbies with me. We had built-in playmates, something my child doesn’t really have.
We also didn’t face issues of figuring out which show to watch on demand, whether to play on the iPhone or iPad, or what convenient snack we should grab to fill our time. My son is an only child so unless there are other kids outside playing, he generally prefers to stay inside. He loves his video games, specifically Minecraft, and he can turn any show into a marathon. For example, I’ve seen every single episode of Good Luck, Charlie. Every. Single. Episode.
He’ll veer off into new territory like Spiderman or Adventure Land (which I quickly rejected as age-appropriate). But he usually comes back to his old stand-bys, like Curious George, Good Luck, Charlie, or Phineas & Ferb.
Oh, Phineas & Ferb. How you taunt us so.
I love Phineas & Ferb so don’t get me wrong. I even have the pictures to prove it.
But the whole premise of the show is given in the theme song:
There’s 104 days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it.
But the annual problem with our generation is finding a good way to spend it.
Oh, the irony.
My son has been sitting around all summer playing video games, watching TV, and complaining that he’s bored. Phineas & Ferb are the antithesis of that.
They create their own fun! They are full of creativity! They’re genuinely nice kids!
So it’s ironic to me that he fills his days watching a show about how to make the most of your summer and yet he doesn’t.
I’ve limited his game time and his TV time. I sent him to art camp for a week. I’ve taken him to Adventure Park USA. But he’s a complainer and whatever we do seems to be preventing him from the possibility of doing something better although he can never quite tell me what that is.
And then everyone goes on vacation.
Where are you going on vacation? people ask me.
Nowhere, I respond, feeling like I must be the root of all boredom. But to be fair, we’ve been to Disney TWICE this year already. We took our vacations early in the year. It’s just hard to appreciate that when everyone has gone away for the summer.
When I was a kid, we loved summer and not because of summer camps or long vacations. We generally enjoyed the unstructured days of riding our bikes and playing in the woods. We actually didn’t go on vacations unless you counted the annual day trip to Kings Dominion. On the rare occasion we went to the movies, we were thrilled beyond belief. When we got our Atari 2600, we play video games for
hours minutes on end. Let’s get real. The games weren’t that complicated. And TV? Well, we watched TV when we wanted a break from the summer heat.
Summer vacations for kids are different now. It’s supposed to be three months of entertainment and I guess I wasn’t prepared for that. I’m working from home and just assumed things would magically work out. He’d be out playing while I got my work done. In the afternoons, we’d saunter off to the park as we blew bubbles and giggled our way around the playground.
Then I remember he’s not 3 years old anymore. He’s a living, breathing boy. Like, an actual person with thoughts and interests and moods (oh, the moods of a 6 year old). It’s not the summer vacation of my youth. He doesn’t have enough to do and I have to work (even if it is from home). I guess the real irony is that very soon I’m going to miss the opportunity I had to show him the joys of an unstructured summer.
Maybe he’ll at least remember some of the fun we’ve had.