It’s the end of vacation week here. Vacation for the kids, at least. Michelle and I still had to work. And while the girls spent time in New Jersey and Rhode Island, there were also days at the end of the week where they were at home. By themselves. With nothing planned.
Like some days of summer vacation Dad camp, they were able to practice an important skill: the ability to be alone. To entertain themselves. Or at least get comfortable with boredom.
It’s a critical part of life. Those who lack the ability to sit with their own thoughts are often miserable and prone to addiction and overstimulation.
If I’m honest, sometimes this is harder on me than it is on them. If they are home and the house gets too quiet, what do I do? I go check on them. Encourage them to do something. Tell them to go outside.
They need to be comfortable being bored and I need to be comfortable with bored kids.
The kids had winter break this week. We stayed put and I hit a pandemic wall. Not the first in the past year. Turns out an introvert who doesn’t mind going days without speaking to other humans has limits. I tried to fight it. Being tired is easy. Being a cynic is easy. Caring is much harder. Hoping is harder.
Who knows how this past year will effect the kids long term? Maybe they shrug it off. Maybe it’s a weird touchstone moment they share at parties. I do know it’s not fair to let my experiences deprive them of any hope they need to be happy. So I put on my Dad pants, vacuumed up my pity, stayed off the internet, and tried to stay positive.
Parenting is not easy. It takes a certain courage. The courage to wake up in the morning and keep up the good cheer even if you’re not feeling it. The courage to believe that making a better world is possible and worth it.