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.
In the spirit of confronting brutal reality – if you turn off the TV and tell him he needs to go play outside, and you don’t back down, he will learn to play on his own and find his own adventures. I work from home and have a elementary school age daughter as well so I walk in your shoes.. If I allowed it sure she’d sit around and play minecraft and watch Disney Channel. But I just don’t. So she gets up and heads out and maybe she finds other kids and maybe she doesn’t but she knows laying around the house all day isn’t an option. She heads out and makes her own fun each day. If you don’t like the behavior, don’t enable it or allow it.
I fully admit my responsibility in this whole predicament. It’s just a bit of a catch-22 for me. I feel guilty making him play alone but I have work to do. So I probably compensate too much with electronics and, let’s face it, it makes my life easier. I’m getting better at balance though, for him and for me.
Oh, you know I get this. I actually laughed yesterday when one of my boys told me I’m boring and don’t let them have any fun. We were at the POOL, where he’d been happily playing for hours.
Because I have three boys who can often be good playmates for each other(when they aren’t fighting), I sometimes rely on that instead of trying to find something for them to do.
Though mine are all addicted to minecraft and when they are playing that, it’s super easy for me to actually get work done. Plus, it’s usually SO hot here that I can’t just say oh, go outside because I wouldn’t want to be out there for more than five minutes, either.
This is actually the first year in four years that we are going on a vacation (a real vacation, not just going to visit family, which is what our usual trips are). But still- we haven’t gone yet and the boys are so ready.
I think I’m just ready for school. 😉
We’re very much in the same place. Boys. Minecraft. Heat. It’s not as bad here with the heat I’m sure but if I don’t want to be outside because it’s hot and sticky, I won’t make him. I just feel like I failed summer this year. I guess I’ll have to be one of those overplanning moms next summer. And definitely have a summer vacation!
I think you nailed it when you said kids are just waiting to be entertained for 3 months. Our parents didn’t entertain us. I totally struggle with the thought of am I DOING enough with the boys? Am I giving them a chance to learn etc? My mom always gently reminds me that kids have to have independent time to learn the skill of entertaining themselves. Mine are still young (4 and 2) but these unstructured days are getting realllly long. I am looking forward to preschool because it will help with at least a small part of the day and my ideas will last longer than a week’s worth of 5 minute activities.
I think as your boys get older they’ll definitely play well together. Although I can definitely see Calvin trying to be the boss. The structure to the day definitely helps. I don’t want Evan to go back to school. I guess I just want work to go away so we can play all day and it can be my summer vacation too!
The factors of how I was treated as a child and how I wanted to be treated do play a part in my parenting. But I had an opposite experience than you. My sisters are 6 and 7 years older than me so I spent a lot of time on my own. Somehow I managed even though we never even had a desktop computer. I did have a close imaginary friend…
Thanks for the idea, Jendi. I think I’ll create an imaginary playmate for Evan and say, I know you’re bored but you can go play with George 🙂
First, I’d like to point out that Phineaus and Ferb have each other. 😛
I was an only child until age 9. I spent a lot of time playing by myself in my bedroom. Oh there were kids in the neighborhood, but like now decades later, I was an outcast.
I would always complain that I was bored and my parents always told me to play by myself. It sucks not having someone else do all the work for you. Your son will learn to occupy himself both inside and outside, you just can’t back down. It’s important to be able to be okay with being alone.
Good point about P&F. I’ve spent my time as an outcast and while it definitely builds character to be okay on your own, I’d love for him to have some good social relationships too. Luckily, he does have some friends that are home when I can say GO PLAY and he gladly will!
I so get this. My son is an only child, and I was too. Thankfully, I grew up in a great neighborhood with tons of kids to play with at any given time. My son doesn’t have anyone nearby to play with on a whim, so it’s tough. He loves his video games (Minecraft especially) and Legos. We joined the local recreational association to be able to go to the pool this summer. However, boredom still sets in often around here. So glad school starts back for both of us next week!
I’m glad I’m not the only one. I’d love to spend more time with him but my work keeps me occupied most of the day. He’s definitely a gamer and he’s GOOD at it. That’s got to count for something, right? We moved to this neighborhood specifically because of all the kids and most of the time, it helps. A LOT. I’ll at least be better prepared to combat boredom next summer!
Summer slips by so fast. Every year I have grand plans, and every year they fall short. Last summer we planned nothing. No camps, no vacations, nothing. I took my daughter to my yoga class and the kids took friends to the pool four days a week. This year I feel like we’ve had exactly ten days at home and those days are spent preparing for the next trip.
I liked last summer better.
Surely there is a happy medium. I’ve had a few events on my own to go to and it makes me appreciate being at home more. But on the weekends, I still start to go a little stir crazy and have at least gotten the family out for some day trips!