Boredom, a mini-rant
A new child will be joining us each Monday, a three year old boy by name of Hunter. Today I had arranged to meet with Hunter and his mommy at a local park. This is a good strategy on lots of levels. The park is a neutral environment, so the children are less likely to get territorial about toys and space; I get to suss out the play style of the new child; I get a window into how the child and parent interact; and the parent and I have more opportunity to talk while the children cavort in the dirt than we would in my living room with the children directly underfoot. It's a good strategy all round. Various children will interact in different ways, depending on their ages and characters. Three-year-olds generally start off ignoring each other, and will gradually, almost inevitably begin to play together. I had to prevent Hunter's very Earnest Mommy (sigh) from forcing the Very Proper Social Introduction, but once convinced that there was a method to my madness, all proceeded according to expectation. Mine, anyway! By the end of two and a half hours, Darcy and Hunter were charging around in a thrilling game of chase-me, all the while calling out directions and suggestions to each other, true hallmarks of the ongoing morphing that makes a truly great imaginery game. Mommy took the opportunity of their preoccupation to tell me All About Hunter. Hunter is pure delight, though not without his challenges. Hunter shouts a lot. Hunter does not eat vegetables. Hunter does not lie down for naps. (What, he stands?) Hunter still has a bottle. Sometimes Hunter will hit Mommy or shout at her. Hunter screams at strangers in the street. None of these bothered me much at all. I can't imagine I'll have any trouble with these behaviours. Not more than once, anyway. It was the last one she threw at me that told me I had a true project coming my way. Hunter, you see, doesn't tolerate boredom well. All those nasty behaviours? Merely the result of boredom. As long as he is kept occupied, he is no trouble at all. None at all. It is clear that Mommy expects Hunter's days with Mary will be a steady stream of activities and stimulation, just like they've been all his life so far. There are very clearly no expectations that Hunter could in any way be responsible for his own entertainment. Nope. His role is passive recipient, the adult's is constant entertainer. I could feel the headache coming on... Hunter's days with Mary will be spent learning to chill out and amuse himself. My highest priority for this boy: helping him learn that he is his own best resource for entertainment. If not, as a teen Hunter will almost certainly join all those other worthy young people hanging out in the parking lot of your local coffee shop at midnight, indulging in petty vandalism for thrills because he's bored, and lord knows, if a child is bored, he couldn't possibly be expected to come up with something constructive to do with his time, all by his own self... Sigh.