Realistic Expectations

We were watching an episode of Bob the Builder (a long time favorite in my book), when some of the characters decided to go snow boarding. Bob starts off thinking that snowboarding was going to be easy, and that he would just stand up and take off on the board. He realizes quickly that it is difficult to snowboard, and at one point he asks the lady giving him a lesson, “Is it supposed to hurt this bad?”

One of my favorite things about Bob the Builder is that they showcase realistic expectations. Sure it’s a cartoon, but messes and mistakes abound, and so does grace. The idea of being able to just stand up and ride off on a snowboard is silly – but as someone who grew up in Colorado, and thought snowboarding would be a breeze when I first tried it, I can attest to the fact that it’s a real challenge. While the pros make it look like they are floating down the slope, the truth is, it takes a great deal of strength, skill, and coordination to actually make it down the hill.

Throughout Bob the Builder episodes, the characters face challenges, sometimes the challenges they face are made worse by thinking something isn’t a challenge, or by actions or mistakes of the character facing the challenge. Nonetheless, Bob and Wendy give the equipment room to make mistakes, and help them recover when a mistake does happen. (Maybe it isn’t totally realistic that all of the equipment is self driving and capable of mistake making, but it’s still such a sweet picture of making a mistake, and being helped through it.)

Funny, I always thought I put this cartoon on so my kids could watch something equally entertaining and educational, seems I might put it on so I can be reminded to shout less and offer more grace, a chance to re-do or fix a mess, a chance to grow from a screw up instead of acting like a screw up is the end of the world (which we all know, most the time when a kid screws up, it’s far from the end of the world).

Thanks, Bob the Builder, for giving us something worth watching, for giving us realistic expectations, for embracing the mess and muck that is life, and for showing us to keep trying.

Addictive, Lazy Society

I read a great post about busy hands and creative minds here. Amy is amazing, and I love her writing.

This post resonated on a number of levels for me – minus the pranking. We weren’t pranksters as kids, and I got my mom’s uncanny ability to fly off the handle if a prank catches me too off guard. (Thanks Mom! 😉

One way I related with this post was the busy hands, free mind thought. When I get my hands busy doing the dishes, scrubbing the bathroom, hanging the diapers, folding the laundry – any of the mundane tasks that don’t require much thinking – my mind wanders off on vast adventures that become fodder for a novel. Or my mind narrows in on a parenting issue and soon, I find myself with several posts to write, and a solution to a problem. Plus, if I’m feeling down, getting my hands busy seems to lift my mood and make me cheery once more.

The other thing that really struck me has to do with kids these days. With all of their electronic devices, and video games and what not, kids today don’t experience this busy-hand, free-mind phenomenon. In fact, kids today expect to be entertained around the clock. Take away the entertainment, and my stepson is lost. He has to have his phone or the television or the computer just to function.

I’m old fashioned enough to think that the smart phone should be allowed to occupy thirty minutes to an hour of his day for “playing” with. Then, it should be put up. Yep, I mean no texting, no games or videos, nothing. He can make a call, to a real person, but that would be it. Of course, I’m the only one in our circle that feels this way, so it’s kind of a moot point. I have tried limiting the phone use, and taking the phone away for the afternoon hours, but the result it not pleasant.

My goal with the younger kids it to not start such a bad habit. I don’t want them to have phones until they are older (15 or 16) and if I am paying for it, it will probably be a generic flip phone. That’s right, one that lets you check in and maybe do some texting. The 7 year old and 5 year old don’t get much TV time, either. They watch a couple programs with us, and occasionally some cartoons, but all total it’s less than 4 hours most weeks.

Now, I will admit this: the 7 year old has a tablet, but he is limited to 30 minutes or an hour, and he only gets to play with it during a few days each week.

Kids must learn to entertain themselves. Kids must be encouraged to think. I do think kids need exposure to technology, because using it, and being proficient with it will be necessary for their careers, of that I’m almost certain. But that doesn’t mean unsupervised, unending hours using this technology.

And this all answers the question I’ve been asking for weeks, “Where is all of this laziness coming from?” Electronics are not evil, but we can all waste our days and come to expect constant entertainment. This expectation causes people to become addicted, in the unhealthiest of ways, to their devices. Take the devices away, and the result is not pleasant. People, adults and kids alike, are losing the busy-hands, free-minds way of doing things. Instead, their minds are busy and their hands are free – which seems to result in a highly addictive, exceptionally lazy society.

How do you handle the entertainment battle in your home?