No Turtles

This right here? This is good stuff: “Are we raising a generation of helpless kids?”

 “We made our kid’s happiness a central goal – and now it’s difficult for them to generate happiness — the by-product of living a meaningful life.”

Timely, since here I am at home for the summer with my 8 year old,  6 year old and  2 year old who still needs a nap. They do not play well with each for more than 20 minutes. And sometimes by play well, I’m only talking about agreeing on the same TV show.

They’re bored, they’re hungry, they’re mean to each other and the next thing we know, mama is a screaming harpy and everyone’s been grounded til they’re twelve.

I guess I could take control of every minute of their day and schedule them into exhausted silence. It’s tempting. I know lots of moms who do.

But then I remember my “No Turtles” rule.

We started it when Gabe was about three and he’d pseudo try to do something, such as put his shirt on himself, and then he’d flop like Arjen Robben and wail “I can’t do it!!!”

I used to tell him “Don’t act like a turtle on your back, arms and legs kicking in the air! Figure it out.” This evolved into our “No Turtle” rule.

So if I hijack summer, my days might be more peaceful, but the long term result will be a household full of turtles. “Mom, I’m bored! Mom, we never do anything! Mom, I wish we could go to Disneyland! We never have any fun!”

No thank you.

Dearest children of mine,

This summer, the management will no longer be providing Perfect Days. There will be many, many opportunities for fun and games, but very few of them will be directed by Mom.

We went to the library, so there are books to read.

We went to the teacher supply store, so there are workbooks and science experiments.

We’ll keep up our tradition of the weekly trip to the mall, because Mama loves her some mall. We’ll hit the waterpark once or twice. I’ll set up play dates upon request. Maybe a trip or two to the beach. VBS, for sure.

And there are 12 kids in a five house radius. Everyone can learn a new game, like “tag” or “hide and go seek”. After a long day playing outside, I could probably be talked into making ice cream for the lot of you.

I know this is different, but we have no choice.  If we continue to take responsibility for your happiness, where does it stop? I met a lady last week who is planning her son’s honeymoon—not just paying for it, planning it down to the daily excursions and nightly dinners.

Can you imagine getting a text from your mom on your honeymoon: “Have you guys gotten dressed for dinner yet? If you’re running behind, let me know and I’ll call the restaurant”.

Someday you’ll thank me.

In the meantime, remember the new house rule: If anyone says “I’m bored” or “There’s nothing to do”, I automatically get to pick a new activity. My current favorites are “Put the laundry away”, “Pack a box” and “Vacuum”.

Happy Summer!

Love, Mom

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