Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Art of Doing Nothing

We have been mostly unscheduled this summer, for perhaps the first time ever. Large and Medium both really hoped to do an art camp and an archery camp. Small wanted to do gymnastics and needed swim lessons. I had an urge for long car trips to the Badlands and Mount Rushmore, out to the Jersey Shore and back, along the Louis and Clark trail. Unfortunately, an unplanned home improvement project cut into our funds deeply and cancelled all but the already paid for.

We've still had things on our calendar. Homeschool park days and bowling days are favorites. Dance and piano recitals. Museum visits and family reunions. And responsibility for my parents' house has brought us to the beach happily and frequently.

But mostly we are just being still. Medium has learned to act on her boredom by finding what truly interests her, which seems to be everything. Large and Small have had endless days of play with the block boys. I've developed a plan that will hopefully bring in more income so we aren't in the position of telling the kids they can't do something again.

I have memories of summers like this. But really, it was probably only for August that we lived the life of the unscheduled, unplanned. We swam competitively, with daily workouts and weekly meets. As we got older we had two workouts a day, taught swimming and coached activities. So my memory of the endless summer days of play and fun are either from before the age of 7 or from those August days between the swim team awards banquet and the start of school. Three weeks, tops.

But such sweet memories they are! I can't remember a single swim meet, they all blend together. But I can remember entire conversations I had with my best friend, hours of solitude along the creek at the edge of the meadow, reading whatever I liked, long weekends at the beach.

I hope our kids have that memory, not just of summers, but of their yearly schedule. It makes me want to pull back even more on our activities, precisely at the time when Large's dance schedule is becoming more complicated. We will still have days with nothing on board until the evening, days to follow our own interests and inquiries, evenings devoid of homework an paperwork worries.

It's hard to not sign the kids up for classes, club and activities as they come along. Some many great homeschooling parents are bring together kids in such exciting ways, that it feels like we are missing out if we don't participate in everything. Now I find us wanting to pull back not just for financial reasons, but because we want some time alone together. Homeschooling is an evolving adventure.