On whimsy and boredom

NationalGeographicChannel9Maybe you’ve already seen this, but I’ve been in spring break unplugged mode and I just stumbled upon it and it made me feel like weeeeeeee! Apparently, the National Geographic Channel actually pulled off recreating a house flight inspired by the movie UP. Check out more pics here. So neat.

So, on a seemingly (but never entirely) unrelated note, yesterday we had no real plans aside from a date with the couch and a US v Argentina friendly soccer game at 6:00 p.m. We had a lazy Saturday morning and I managed to scoot out of the house for a noon yoga class. When I came back, Saint James had a friend over and they promptly took off for the community center down the street to kick a soccer ball around. Good boys. The girls, though, were bored, whiny, bouncing around the house and getting on each other’s nerves and mine. I finally got so exasperated that I kicked them out – it was a beautiful sunny day and they needed to be outside, breathing in the last bits of cold winter air. Go build a school of snow children, I snapped as I shut the door. They stayed out for a while, came back in soaking wet, pink cheeked and smiley, just the way I like ‘em.

Later that night when we were cleaning up after dinner I found a paper magazine subscription insert on the counter. I was about to toss it in the recycling when I saw that Supergirl had meticulously filled the whole thing out. Name, Address, E-mail (made up), Number of Issues – all in neat, tiny, purple letters. I still tossed it, of course, but not without a twinge of guilt. She was so bored, sooooooo bored, that she filled out a magazine subscription card.

But let’s be real, here. I shouldn’t feel guilty. Not at all. We just spent three glorious days in Lutsen with Nanook, Gear Daddy and familia. They got to ski and snowboard their hearts out, bunk up and giggle into the night, feast on all sorts of yummy food, celebrate Nanook’s birthday, watch American Idol with peeps, color, bicker, chat, spy, and generally scamper around a big, cool house while the grown-ups talked, drank, cooked and cast a lenient eye over everything they were doing. It was a blast. What is wrong with coming home from that kind of trip and just chilling out?

ficheIf you were to look at my shoulders, you wouldn’t see the devil and angel taking turns whispering in my ear. Instead you’d see Julie McCoy, our fave cruise director, on one shoulder, hatching plans, leading adventures, planning field trips, always thinking of ways to make my kids’ lives more FUN. On the other shoulder you’d see Joan Collins in a silky dressing gown, maribou kitten heels and a very large martini glass muttering that these kids need to learn to occupy themselves. The truth is, I like doing excursions with them because I’m a bit of a “flee the house” kind of a gal. But it’s just that kind of on-the-go life that has made them so intolerable if we ever do want to hang out at home. If they don’t have friends over, they are pretty much guaranteed to be driving me insane. Which makes me yell at everyone and shoo them into the car for – you guessed it – an excursion.

As far as I can remember, my parents didn’t spend all their free time trying to keep us entertained. There were giant swathes of idle time in my childhood, which I filled by reading books and the backs of shampoo bottles, playing Dukes of Hazzards, spying on the neighbor boy and convincing my brother I was a wizard. I know this isn’t anything new, but I wonder what my kids are missing out on by being constantly occupied and entertained. There are so many things that can only be learned with ample time: how to get along, how to love books, how to French braid hair, how to climb trees, how to choreograph dance routines to the entire Grease album and then the entire Xanadu album. I bet the dude who thought of floating that house had lots of idle time in his youth (and she brings it back! bam!)

The way things are going, it seems like our children’s generation, more than any other, is going to find success through knowing how to hustle and being creative. Seems to me, those are just the kind of skills that may be borne of a little boredom. At the risk of sounding like I’m rationalizing my laziness (which, don’t get me wrong, I’m totally comfortable doing), I think I need to be less Julie McCoy and more Joan Collins. And maybe, just maybe, my kids will be better off AND I’ll get to do more of this: joan_collins_photo_20

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