In the evenings at our house, in those interminable minutes while we try to finish preparing dinner, the two older kids are often “bored” and don’t know what to do with themselves. Recently, Griffin shuffled into the kitchen and asked me forlornly, “Daddy, what can I do right now?” He wasn’t asking, “How can I help?” No, this was a bitter expression of hopelessness in the face of far too few minutes of screen time.
I usually reply with something snarky like, “Go stare at a wall!” (Never very effective, but surprisingly satisfying.) Last week, however, I came up with something new. Perhaps a parenting lesson from ECFE finally sank in. Or maybe it arose from the fact that I was facilitating an immersive “design thinking” week at school. Instead of snark or exasperation, I said, “YES! Quick, get a piece of paper and a pen. Draw a shape that represents you in a color that represents your mood!” (I was riffing off of an icebreaker from a recent workshop.) Startled by my specificity, Griffin immediately went to his desk and did it, coming back with a multicolored blob that included a variety of emotions (including “hungry” and “bored,” but also some positive ones). Then he asked for another “art challenge.” And I heard the distant sound of angels singing.
Art challenges have become a fun new activity to keep the gremlins of our witching hour at bay. Maggie, of course, joined in too. Below are a couple of examples of their responses to my challenges from the last few days.
I’m not deluded enough to imagine that this will work forever, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts. And I do love watching their artwork evolve.