at a loss?

June 15, 2010 at 7:55 am 1 comment

Yesterday I posted about my difficulty in switching from spring to summer, not just the season but all the other changes that come with summer, particularly scheduling. And as I thought about it more I realized there is an enormous amount of transition in our family every week, not just season to season. Xi is with us fifty percent of the week, transferring to her other house every three or four days, Bella spends weekends with us through the school year and then one-week or two-week long chunks throughout the summer. So what does this mean? Madness.

It’s hard for us to keep track sometimes. It feels like someone is always coming and going, which is a really hard place to parent from. And it’s tricky for the kids too. Throughout the winter Xi is with us each time Bella comes home, but through the summer there are days in which Bella is here and Xi isn’t. Like yesterday, after hours and hours of nonstop play, the two girls were apart. This hasn’t happened since last summer so Bella was at a loss. She wondered what to do with herself.

If you have a spirited child you know what it’s like when they start casting about for things to do, unsettling. Bella has big ideas, big movements and big emotions so I get a little nervous when she isn’t occupied. Grammie and I watched her as she struggled. She was upset and bored. Not a good combination.

I wanted to schedule her day for her, pop in a movie, organize a major outing, anything to keep her out of trouble. But luckily, I had just read Kris‘ post about Simplicity Parenting.

“let kids figure out ways to fill their own days…let “boredom” to happen because that space can lead to their own creative thinking and experiences”

So even though Bella thrashed about on the couch, I let her. And even as her frustration bloomed into anger and I became anxious, I still didn’t entertain her. I didn’t offer play ideas, only empathy.

Do you miss Xi?


It’s kind of tough, after so many days of constant play, to be without her huh?

Yeah. Things are just so much more fun with her and now I’m bored and I want to just go somewhere.

Yeah. You do. But I think we’re going to stick around here today.


You don’t like the sound of that.


And that’s where we landed. No quick fix, no happy ending. Grammie set up the hose in the backyard and quite soon Bella found herself deeply immersed in an elaborate fairy pretend. She dressed herself, with the help of Grammie, in rhubarb leaves, fashioned tools out of sticks and stones, helped plants heal, and concentrated on never-ending fairy tasks. She played this way, with very little parental interaction, the entire day.

It’s easier for me as a parent to not try to have all the answers, to simply offer empathy and know that not only are my children resourceful, but also that any momentary fit of boredom they experience is good for them. If yesterday is any proof, perhaps boredom is the best thing Bella could have experienced.


Entry filed under: life lessons, parenting principles. Tags: , , .

3, 2, 1…..summer! a day in the life

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Amy McGregor  |  June 15, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    That girl is too amazing! We have entered summer with strep throat and allergies- not the best introduction to this amazing weather. As soon as things settle down and we are safely degermified, can we have a playdate?! We love your kids- and you grownups too!



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