This afternoon was destined to be the usual somewhat dreary 3 to 6pm experience. But the cleaners were late, so late that they didn't arrive until after the kids got home from school. Which forced this tired mama to get her act together and take the kids somewhere, anywhere. With no snacks packed and a dog joining us for the ride we stopped by our favourite bakery - favourite because it makes great donuts and is so much cheaper than the one around the corner - and then headed to our special place. The dog beach.
Donuts devoured, the kids were off on scooters, in the sand, and eventually in the water. School clothes were saturated, shoes were filled with wet sand, and the dog needed a bath. All in all a great afternoon.
Now, in my opinion it was the best sort of afternoon. Not that I have been that great of late of creating these types of experiences. But I'd much rather my kids spend the afternoon romping about in a park getting dirty and tired than sitting at home doing drill and kill homework or worse still attending a "coaching" session. I'd much rather they build a sand castle or paddle in the dirty water than learn how to excel at test taking.
I am not saying that all formal outside of school activities are without worth. Not at all. Learning how to dance, play an instrument or swim are brilliant. Drama workshops and art classes magnificent. Mandarin or Spanish lessons terrific. But so is having time to stare off blankly into space and daydream, time to be both friend and foe with siblings and neighbours, time to pull out the lego or blocks and create structures that have come from your imagination, time to dig and mould things out of sand or dirt, clay or play-doh. Time to drift off to other worlds with books full of pictures or words or both.
We have our whole lives to be busy, productive, goal oriented. But childhood is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be blissfully unproductive - at least some of the time.