Today I had nothing planned at all, except to stay at home. We were in Malaysia for church camp from Sunday to Wednesday and I had a doctor’s appointment for what seemed a half day yesterday (with monkey boys in tow). So it seemed only fitting that today be spent at home. The boys were quite happy to sleep in and have plenty of free time to play with their Playmobil toys. After breakfast and Bible reading, I did ask them to clear up other things in their room that weren’t being played with at the time and help with a couple of other simple chores before leaving them to their toys, and all was well.
We decided to have the whole week off from school–I think we all needed it–but I did have this nagging doubt at the back of my mind that too much unstructured time might lead to boredom, quarrelling and a general lack of peace in the house. (This has happened before.)
They hadn’t spent much time with their toys before #1 son came calling.
“Mom, do you have a platter I could use?”
“Er, a platter? What kind of platter?” (Mom is staying calm but is getting a little nervous.)
” You know that flat silver one we used for one of our science lessons.”
“Oh, ok that one’s got things in it. How about this plastic tray?” (Mom is grateful that ‘platter’ does not mean something breakable.)
“Mom, do you have any flour?”
(Now Mom is getting nervous…)
“Our guys are going on an expedition…”
As it turns out, he wanted to bring some of his Playmobil guys on an archaeological dig. So he poured the whole wheat flour out on the tray, added some shells and rocks, buried some rolled up toilet paper (dinosaur bones) and brought in his guys armed with spades and rakes. He and his brother had a grand time with their little expedition and I had a bit of faith in them restored. They can be left alone and still come up with intelligent things to do given the right environment. They were playing–but they were also thinking, planning and drawing on many things that we’d learned about in our readings.
#1 son soon tired of the expedition and asked me to play a game with him. I negotiated for doing that after lunch, to which he agreed. And guess what he did next? He pulled a book off the shelf (James and the Giant Peach) and started reading it to himself! The ‘late’ often reluctant reader has blossomed into a boy who will read for leisure! Amazing.
#2 was happy to continue digging in the flour and creating new adventures for his archaeologist. And I was just watching and appreciating the value of a slow day at home.