15 hours. One way.
That’s how long it took us to drive to New Mexico on Spring Break. Getting there, my children were delightful. On the long drive, they occupied themselves with reading, drawing, watching a couple of movies and asking questions about the change of scenery, and they got along well.
Clearly, we were amazing parents.
And then we piled in the car a few days later to come home. We arrived in the Land of Enchantment with one set of children and discovered they had morphed into entirely different ones for the long road home. Because all their books had been read, movies watched, pictures drawn.
There was squabbling and bickering and mostly, a lot of boredom.
While I wasn’t looking forward to the drive home either, the getting home part is sort of unavoidable, you know?
The complaining heightened to an all time high and at some point a kid from the backseat actually demanded, “Give me something to do.”
In other words, entertain me.
And this is the price we pay when we constantly entertain our kids: They cannot entertain themselves.
Remember when we used to play outside for hours?
Now we have half a dozen screens to choose from between ipads, ipods, iphones, iii-yii-yii
Remember when kids used to use their imaginations?
Now we over schedule them with extracurriculars. .
Remember when going to the park, zoo, circus, playplace, you-name-it-in-kid-entertainment used to be reserved for a special occasion?
Now we do something every other day because our kids aren’t the only ones who are bored. Parents are too.
Maybe we should stop entertaining our kids so much.
Maybe they will start creating fun instead of depending on us to manufacture it.
Because it’s really way more about entitlement than entertainment.
Now, I have done it all. I’m a guilty parent entertainer. But I’ve realized the more I do, the more they want and the less they do for themselves.
We live in a culture that thrives on entertainment. We crave the thrill of it. And that’s great for special days, but maintaining it constantly is doing more harm than good.
If we stop doing it, they will stop expecting it.
Because sometimes we have to wait.
Sometimes we don’t get our way.
Sometimes we are bored.
My kids ended up surviving the road trip. There was sleeping and made-up-game-playing and just old fashioned car-riding imagination.
Life isn’t always entertaining.
And the sooner our kids realize that, the sooner they realize they have the power to change that.