Wednesday, February 04, 2009

And We Stayed Home

One of Stella's favorite questions to ask is, "Mom, where are we going tomorrow?" And by tomorrow she frequently means today, just later in the day after whatever activity we're currently involved in ceases to be. This aggravates me to no end. It makes it painfully obvious that she is subject to boredom and, consequently, a desire for a frenzied, action-packed life. I don't have anything against activity, I quite enjoy activity. I don't enjoy activity that serves only to distract me from the futility of daily life. That does not mean that I never watch TV or surf the internet purposelessly, it means only that I try not to do those things in excess of other things.

I've realized that my education and lifetime experiences have not served to provide me with habitual quality activities in which to engage. I know how to make meals and clean house and do other chores of necessity. I also know how to go to school and succeed at the task at hand. What I am not terribly successful with is creating tasks for myself to do on a regular basis that stimulate me beyond basic entertainment.

I'm quite proficient at readings blogs and watching LOST and The Office. These are all activities that can be done inside the home. I spend a lot of time at home these days and there are times when I feel the pressure of What Am I Doing? Of course there is childcare and housework that needs to be done, but that does not regularly take up the entire day. There are moments here and there where I could sew for fifteen minutes, read a chapter of a book for twenty minutes or some other constructive activity. My natural inclination is to do something mindless, however, and that aggravates me as much as Stella's persistent question about upcoming activities.

Today we stayed home all morning. I don't have any plans to leave the house this afternoon--at least not in a vehicle. We will probably walk over to a field nearby that the girls like to play in. All morning we've each been engaged in our own activities. Sometimes those activities have overlapped but everything we've been doing has required sustained attention and relative stillness. The girls colored and painted, read books together and played with all their Little People. Stella has been acting out intense dramas and Gianna has been collecting and sorting all her little pieces throughout the morning. Meanwhile, I have cut out the pieces to a dress for Gianna and found time to record this day. It's been a good morning. Stella has still asked me her question, but I've found that staying home and requiring the girls to find things to do only increases their ability to exert their imagination and develop the ability to find something worthwhile to do with all the materials they have around them instead of always looking out beyond the borders of the home for easy fun.

This is my desire for them. I want them to develop skills and habits of concentration and creativity so that whenever they are faced with downtime they don't have an existential crisis. And if they inherit a quarter of their father's ability to concentrate and cultivate productivity they'll be ahead of me.

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