Friday, August 10, 2012

modern medieval family: is event behavior driven by boredom?

This post is something of a follow up to my last post, which I've been thinking a lot about since posting it.

All my kids have been extremely adept at solitary play. Even the twins are very good at finding something to do individually. Yet, in the home environment, we have plenty for them to interact with- toys, books, empty bottles and boxes, endless pieces of paper, and, of course, TV. It's pretty rare that true boredom really ever hits them. There's always something to do.

When we took my oldest to events, we made sure to bring along his diapers, food, blanket, etc. but never gave much thought to what else he might need. He played so well on his own at home with such an a active imagination, we figured that he'd occupy himself in the same manner at events. But instead, he just seemed to want to run off, get into stuff and use his "outside" voice all the time. In other words, events became a breeding ground for misbehavior.

When we added the twins into the event mayhem, O had already established an untrustworthy repertoire at events. We couldn't rely on him to help us out by simply behaving.

Added to his general lack of civil conduct was his total rebellion against taking a nap. We had problems getting him to nap during the day at home, so his resistance to them at events didn't really surprise us, but it was extremely frustrating. Eventually, during the twin's second event (when O was 2), I made the call- trying to force him into taking a nap at an event was a losing battle, one I no longer had the energy or desire to fight.

But then we began seeing the same behavior in the twins. At home, to keep things under control, they spent more time in their play pens than roaming about. Yet at home they behaved, and chattered with each other and chewed on their toys and hugged their teddy bears. At events, however, they whimpered and refused to settle down for naps.

Events, then, started to come with a caveat. If we go, we have to deal with the misbehavior. There have been many times in recent months that we skipped an event simply because we didn't feel we had the patience to deal with all the bad kids.

Now, I'm adult enough to admit when I've made a mistake, but it sometimes takes a while to realize when a mistake has been made. In this case, "a while" has been nearly 4 years. And here's the mistake: believing that the kids could take care of their own entertainment at events the same as they could at home, and not giving them the tools to do that.

I think that we mistakenly believed that the event environment would foster its own brand of interesting opportunities for play. That the list fields, the interesting clothing and the pageantry would all provide entertainment enough for our children. Unfortunately, from the point of view of the kids, we never made the act of going and being at an event a big deal, so there was no need to get excited about it, or be interested in it. Add to it that we rarely let them wander and explore, and almost never provide a fun and comfortable place for them to play as an alternative, and to them, events are actually the worst place ever.

Nothing makes you feel like a goober like realizing that you've completely screwed up the one thing you really wanted your kids to like.

In September, mom and I will be going to a camping event, and I decided that my daughter should go with us. She has not gone to an event without at least one sibling, and she's only been camping twice. She's also more likely to stay close, come when she's called, and keep her voice down. In other words, she's typically the best behaved, and therefore the best guinea pig.

Guinea pig for what? A change of attitude on my part to help her see and understand what makes events special, what there is to do there, and when we're stuck at the sun shade, to make her mood my number one priority.

I've got some ideas of how to accomplish this, including a game that can last the whole event, which I'll share in my next post.

1 comment:

  1. Hi I am a mom of Five SCA children and now four grandchildren. The list is as follows: fabric balls made from grab scraps and stuffed with fluff (little ones love to fill the cooking pot with them and dump them , toddlers love to throw them, and everyone else likes to try and juggle them) Jacobs ladder as it just interesting to watch it change bought ours at the dollar store but they can be gotten at events for about $5. three Hobby horses (this is something they each should have their own and a spare for visitors) plastic armor and swords. nine man morris game, Mankala game (pebbles in the holes), checkers, chess,misc pouches stick and hoops, some toy wooden soldiers I made from block of wood (1"x1"x2" then I drew a soldier face back and two side views). That is what we bring to events. I have scene castle blocks that I thought might be cool and Puppets could be fun. the stand by of paper and colored pencils are also great (pencils do not melt in the heat). I have also made garb for favorite teddy bears and dolls. Most of this stuff takes about 1/2 of a mid size plastic storage tote. I also recommend a inflatable baby pool the ones that are about 3 feet round and have two little inflatable rings as it can be a place to cool an over heated toddler or give a bath to a filthy muddy child heck I even have used mine for me to take a bath in.just put two pans of cold water and on pan hot and you have a temped bath yes it is only about an inch deep but nothing feels as good as being clean all over.