They were never bored as there was always something else to explore, new projects to build, something new to learn about each other. The most upsetting event was when the 7 ½ year old informed the almost 7- year- old that fairies aren’t real. Oops.
The other children were 5, 4, and 3 years, with the 8-month-old bringing up the rear. They would play together or with the older girls and then there would be tears, tussles, and a tragic tale of who hit who, who took what, and what are you going to do about it.
I started to see a pattern with the children. After a few days, they began to figure out their limits (to a degree at least). They would play together for a while and then I would see one of them playing by themselves. One by one I would see them taking some time alone. No big deal. No need for a grown-up to intervene, they just did their own thing for a while. They needed time with nothing to do.
This summer, in particular, we are eager to connect with our families. To be with each other. And yet, perhaps particularly after this time of more isolation and social distancing, there is a need to balance togetherness with alone time. Time where there is really nothing else you have to do.
What could that mean for me? A nap in the hammock. A quiet moment floating on my back in the lake. Pausing for long enough to listen to the scarlet tanager’s song. Having nothing to do is a delightful point in time for us to realign ourselves with the world and the people around us.
Once again I am learning from the children. In the middle of the frantic activity and fun, it is OK to step aside and have a moment with nothing to do. To pause. To refresh. And then I can go back and play with the cousins.
On August 6 The River Center is hosting an outdoor movie in Putnam Park for the family – come join us! For more information on our other programs like Family, Forests and Farms (exploring our region for the whole family), Baby and Me, Mini-Explorers (for toddlers and adult), and more- check out rivercenter.us; firstname.lastname@example.org or 924-6800.