No, not me. My 6-year old.
Keep in mind his room is filled with a decent supply of toys... not like mine at his age, because my parents were on the extravagant credit card kick whereas my wife and I enjoy the simplicity of debit cards instead. Nonetheless, he's doing pretty good there, has an amazing collection of books my wife (a former school teacher) passed down to him, just bought a used Gamecube with money he put away for three months, and even has a little brother (4-years old) to play with.
I know this because recently I was doing something productive... sleeping, I think... and he walked into the room to tell me about it.
Him: I'm bored.
Me: (something unintelligible about the price of Ice Tea at Panera)
Him: Dad? I'm bored.
Me: I'm sorry, buddy. Why are you bored?
Him: I just want to play the Gamecube but I've already played it enough for the day. Mom said I'm done.
Me: (ah... yeah... we limit him on time because he's rather obsessive about the Gamecube - especially Lego Star Wars) I know it's hard to think about something else when you want to do one thing, but you do have a lot of toys, books, and games... and then there's your brother, too.
Him: Yeah, but none of those things sound good. I'm still bored.
Me: I'm sure you'll figure it out.
And then... that was the end of the conversation. Not because I fell back asleep, but because he was forced to figure it out. Ten minutes later I walked by his room and saw him playing with his brother, sharing his Matchbox cars and making all the appropriate "vroom" noises.
He's a great kid... blows me away everyday.
I'm not a parenting expert, but something I picked up along the way is that kids need to be bored. No matter how many or little toys they may have, every kid needs to learn how to entertain themselves with a spirit of contentment. I think a big problem for my generation is that my parents bought me something new when I was bored... or worse yet, they tried to dazzle me with busyness and movies and cartoons and candy and other things instead of letting me figure it out on my own.
Now, I love my parents... even after their divorce. In fact, in two days my mom is coming to live with us (long story) and so I'll have to clue her in on the way things work around our household.
One of them being that we don't stop our kids from feeling discontent in order to discover what contentment is.
You know... kind of like how God does it with us.
How often have we found ourselves in a situation in life and asked God to remove it from us only to hear back "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9a)
God knows that in life you don't really learn how to ski until you lose your poles, and you don't really learn how to camp until your "hotel on wheels" breaks down. Maybe the reason the "poor in spirit" see Him is because they have nothing else to see.
So my encouragement for the day is to let your kids be bored until they find their way to contentment. If we let that muscle build into the the emerging generation, perhaps American consumerism will be replaced by Divine contentment in the years to come.
And maybe if that happens, we'll end up enjoyig/sharing our "toys" with the rest of our brothers (and sisters) in the world.
Labels: situational parenting