February 21, 2012

Doing Stuff

Whenever I talk to people about what we do with our kids, they seem impressed. Wow, you guys do so much stuff with your kids they say. Well, isn't that what you're supposed to do with your kids? Stuff?

Some weekends are just great opportunities to hang out with each other, play games and do nothing much. But other weekends are prime opportunities to get out in the world and learn about it. This weekend, for example. On Saturday we drove to Winchester and took the kids to an awesome children's museum. Museum is perhaps the wrong word. It's the world's biggest and greatest playroom. It's about 100 shades of awesome. And on Sunday we took the kids to a maple syrup boil-down. They got to see tapped maples, a gigantic fire, boiling stuff and smoke... Okay, so, sure they were bored most of the time but now they know where that endless supply of pancake syrup comes from.

Anyway, we got out there, we did stuff in the world, and we had fun. That's how it's supposed to be, right?

I was an only child. My parents and I were - and are - tight. We used to spend every summer on road trips. Sure, they got boring. There were long stretches through Kansas or Iowa that looked exactly the same mile after mile, but I cannot possibly tell you how much those experiences gave me.

What are the best experiences your parents gave you? And you gave your kids?

Posted by Chris at February 21, 2012 7:38 AM
Comments

Like you, Doing Stuff. We lived on a small Scottish island until I was 9 so not always loads of things to do but we regularly went to the museums and library. My stepdad worked in the art gallery so that was like a second home to me. But I also liked hanging out at home Doing Stuff like baking, making models, painting... I plan on doing a good mix of these things when our little boy is here, in fact I think it's one of the great bits of parenting, Doing Stuff!

Posted by: Katherine at February 21, 2012 8:06 AM

During the summer months when my oldest was getting ready to go into kindergarten and his brother was only a toddler I would break up each week of summer vacation into themes: animals, art, science, nature, solar system, etc. and then every day we would work on crafts together and head out and do something that pertained to the weeks theme: beach, animal park, nature centers, art museums, etc. The kids are now almost 17, 14, and 10 and up until just a couple of summers ago we were still doing our weekly themes! I hope they will remember the fun we had during those long, hot, sometimes boring summers...

When we first moved to Idaho we spent week after week exploring new towns, museums, and specific events like a potato festival. I still grab books and look up anything new we haven't seen yet or that we never got around to seeing before. When we lived in Pennsylvania we tried to hit as many sights as we could...of course, after five hours on the battlefield of Gettysburg they all had had enough! We also traveled the country, first west to east and then back again and I had a book on my lap the entire way scouting anything I thought would be cool for the kids to see!

Posted by: natalie at February 21, 2012 2:35 PM

OMG - the stuff we did with our parents! It was mostly my father (imagine that - a man with THREE daughters doing more stuff than the mother!) who did or set up the stuff.
1) on Sunday afternoons we'd go for walks or bike rides (he wanted to give my mother a break from us) all over town and usually there would be 3 or 4 neighborhood kids along for the trip;
2) He had a motorscooter with a side car and on Sunday afternoons he'd give everyone rides around the neighborhood;
3) he made us skateboards that we could sit on and he'd stand at the bottom of the hill and watch for traffic as we'd careen down the hill (they had handles);
4)he'd play tag in the snow and take us sledding;
5) he'd take us to the movies on Wednesday afternoons because he had it off and bring us to the record store to buy records;
6) The whole family (5 of us) would go to the beach on Sunday or Wednesday afternoons or to one of 2 amusement parks in the area.

This was a man who's mother died when he was 2, he lived with an uncle by marriage and step aunt after that, went back to live with his father and 4 older siblings and then lived with the oldest and his wife when his father died before his 11th birthday. How did he learn to be a good husband and father? I don't know but I'm glad he did :-)

Posted by: NancyB at February 21, 2012 2:50 PM

OMG - the stuff we did with our parents! It was mostly my father (imagine that - a man with THREE daughters doing more stuff than the mother!) who did or set up the stuff.
1) on Sunday afternoons we'd go for walks or bike rides (he wanted to give my mother a break from us) all over town and usually there would be 3 or 4 neighborhood kids along for the trip;
2) He had a motorscooter with a side car and on Sunday afternoons he'd give everyone rides around the neighborhood;
3) he made us skateboards that we could sit on and he'd stand at the bottom of the hill and watch for traffic as we'd careen down the hill (they had handles);
4)he'd play tag in the snow and take us sledding;
5) he'd take us to the movies on Wednesday afternoons because he had it off and bring us to the record store to buy records;
6) The whole family (5 of us) would go to the beach on Sunday or Wednesday afternoons or to one of 2 amusement parks in the area.

This was a man who's mother died when he was 2, he lived with an uncle by marriage and step aunt after that, went back to live with his father and 4 older siblings and then lived with the oldest and his wife when his father died before his 11th birthday. How did he learn to be a good husband and father? I don't know but I'm glad he did :-)

Posted by: NancyB at February 21, 2012 2:51 PM

Sunday supper is the night we dine out to give our kitchen staff a break. (Yes, we had kitchen staff. Shoosh.) Sometimes we eat simply but mostly we fine-dine. Thais are born foodies but my dad especially loves fine dining, being the little prince that he is. I got to experience having Yorkshire pudding and roast beef, escargots, Caesar salad and crepe suzette made table side, squid ink pasta, and many other dishes some of my friends don't even want to touch when we were young. To boot, when we went to French, Italian, or German restaurant, my mom would let my brother and I wear the respective soccer jerseys. We received a lot of "awwws" and free ice cream often for how cute we were. LOL

Posted by: oakley at February 22, 2012 2:17 AM

My dad was USAF, so he gave me the opportunity to live all over the world. My parents were not the super involved type, they mostly let us do our own thing. But back in the 70s nobody thought twice about a 7 year old leaving the house at 9 AM and just being out in the neighborhood all day, with mom having no idea specifically where you were. As long as I was home for lunch and dinner it was all good. I can probably count on one hand the number of baseball and basketball games that my dad attended, and I played at least one sport every year from age 5 to high school graduation.

I think I reacted to that by being a very involved parent. I coached about 14 seasons of youth basketball and baseball. Even today, with two teenagers, we still do a lot of stuff together.

Posted by: COD at February 22, 2012 10:48 AM

I deeply resented my parents for not being the "doing stuff" types when I was growing up as an only child. My dad's job as a technical salesman+1970s Britain's bizarre job market meant he changed jobs frequently, so we moved house frequently, roughly every 12-18 months all through my primary school years. We never knew people around us (never there long enough) and my parents were, I now realise, deeply anti-social people. We had little family (and rarely saw the family we had), never had "friends" round at weekends, never (or rarely) "did" anything except grocery shopping and maybe a walk on a Sunday. I hated weekends (I was bored out of my mind once I'd read every book I could get my hands on and drawn a million pictures) and school holidays were even worse. My dad was often "away" on business, my mother didn't drive, and we always lived in the middle of nowhere (to the extent that such a thing is possible in Britain). So yeah, lots of resentment.
Now, as a single mother with two jobs, no car and few social skills, I realise that I'm pretty much the same. My two girls "do stuff", but almost exclusively with their dad. I'm broke - more so than I have ever been before - so any time I do go out with my girls, whatever we do has to be cheap or, better yet, free. As well as accessible on foot or public transport.
I feel bad about this. I feel pretty terrible, actually. I mean, we play board games, sometimes we bake stuff together, but I'm pretty sure they'll grow up resenting me as much as I resented mine, even though I really am doing my best. It's just that apparently my best sucks.
Let's be honest here: my life sucks.

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