David and I have made a conscious effort to not book our children for every class, program and flying trapeze seminar that’s offered in our area. Honest. When I taught, I saw firsthand how a jam-packed life could stress out a young person. And in the last couple years, I’ve seen two-year-olds who are cranky, overtired and whiny because they’re being rushed from one class to another to preschool to Target, then back home just to do it all again after nap time. It stressed me out just typing that. So with our own girls, we’ve been walking on the more relaxed side of the calendar-keeping. They each do an activity a couple days a week, and the rest of the time is free for getting together with friends, or running errands, or–gasp!–just hanging around the house, playing. Our bank account certainly prefers it this way, and I’d always assumed the girls, especially Saoirse, were happy, too.
Until today. Actually, it’s been often lately I’ve noticed Saoirse becoming (dare I say it?), well, bored. Yes, she’ll play around the house while Quinn naps or I do all the unending little chores (“Hey, Mom? You gonna fold laundry again?”). She’ll read books to herself or draw or dance around with the dog–all the usual little kid fun stuff. But it’s happened a lot lately that if I’m not with her, she’s just lying around, clutching that daggone Blanket. She begs to watch Clifford or Sesame Street: “TV is fun. I like TV. Can I watch some TV today, Mom?”
Today was one of our “free” days, and we had to ditch a plan to run to the mall this morning because Quinn slept late and the sky suddenly started pouring rain (we have no garage. Instead, we have a pool. A pool. Isn’t that fantastic, three months out of the year?). When Quinn finally–finally! Rip Van Winkle had nothing on this one–woke, I came downstairs to find Saoirse lolling about on the floor, feet propped up on a toy, just staring at a piece of lint. Hoo, boy.
Fast forward an hour: every single square inch of kitchen counter space is covered with dishes. There are open bags of baking supplies, a stand mixer caked with flour, a jar of peanut butter (that was for lunch), some peels from an overripe pear, a disturbingly large amount of spilled cocoa powder and an empty carton of milk. Because what do you do when your 3-year old is bored? That’s right: you make cookies. So now, as I sit here, exhausted, on the couch, I stare at the crumbs on the dining room table, at the splatters of batter all over the kitchen sink and realize that I’m going to clean up this mess just in time to start another for dinner. And I think, you know? Maybe having to leave the house every morning isn’t such a bad idea after all. Possibly, quite possibly, our fears that our children will be stressed out by planning their lives too much are amiss. Because at least then they won’t be bored. It’s something I might have to think about on days like this.
Now, if you’ll excuse me. While one daughter happily naps and the other reads quietly in her bed on this rainy afternoon, I have to go scrub chocolate frosting off the cabinets.