What to Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

Sunday, January 30th, 2011 | Connecting the Dots

This afternoon Sam had a hockey game. The three littler ones declared a preference for staying home, which seemed reasonable. They’ve watched a lot of hockey this year. For once, I could stay home. I run the clock for home games, but this was “away” even though it was our home rink.

At the last possible minute Wyatt shouted “No, wait, I want to go too!” and raced out the door. Rory barely had time to contemplate his departure….and he was gone.

Lily was deeply engrossed in a Playmobil world. I was reading and had no inclination for cookie making or puzzles. And there Rory was! No Wyatt to chase, no plan, no obvious thing to do…

She:
Sucked her thumb and sat with the dog for a while.
Built a Lego tower “for Sam” and carried it in to show me, which ended in the need to rebuild it several times.
Drew me a picture.
Sat outside the shower and tried to have a conversation with me through the locked door. (sorry…I deserve a locked door once in a while.)
Drew me another picture.
Made me a card.
And another card. (All of these require that I acknowledge them, ideally with lots of praise (which I’m chary of), and possible spell things or read things or ‘member things that are featured in the drawing. None took more than seven seconds to create, and I was definitely beginning to feel some sympathy for the Tiger Mother style of art appreciation.)
Hid in my bed yelling “find me! Find me!”

Eventually Lily lost interest in the Playmobil, and Rory was able to return to one of her favorite activities: “doing just enough of what Lily wants me to do that she will keep playing with me but not enough to make her happy.”

But she had a pretty tough time coping with that initial hour!

Historically, Rory actually CAN self-entertain, but only when she wants to, and ideally when someone else wants her to do something else. The loss of the activity she expected to be doing hits her hard every time. I suspect her life in her foster home was very structured, and of course we know she wouldn’t have been alone often, if ever.

But the ability to spend time just being by yourself and doing your own thing is so key. I was an only child, so for me it was paramount, and the ability to be very easily alone (not to mention the desire to be alone…oh, to be alone!) stays with me. In a house where everyone shares a room, most activities are communal and almost every activity will be immediately observed and joined, I think that’s something I need to make sure they all have a chance at.

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1 Comment to What to Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

DameCatoe
Monday, January 31, 2011

Installing a lock on my bathroom door is near the top of my to-do list. One does deserve to occasionally poop in peace or not lose all the shower steam!

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