Vacation is supposed to be full of sunny days and outdoor activities. I mean, that’s the stuff we all remember most, right? My family and I are on vacation on Mt. Desert Island in Maine (home of Acadia National Park) and the weather has not been cooperating with my vacation vision. Lots of rain, cloudy skies, and fog. What I’ve discovered, though, is that kids have an amazing ability to thrive in any kind of weather — particularly when the parents stop projecting their own expectations of a good vacation! Today was a perfect example of that.
I have four kids — ages 10, 8, 6, and 4 — and the poor weather precluded us from doing any of our preferred activities (boating, hiking, whiffle ball, bike riding and just about everything else outdoors). We had heard about a place in Bar Harbor where you can paint pottery. As soon as my youngest heard about it (he’s the guy who is best at entertaining himself with Legos, trains, cars… a coping skill that many youngest children seem to develop) he insisted that we take him to “Harry Pottery.” In response to his enthusiasm and creative name association, everybody agreed that it probably wouldn’t be that bad.
Well, not only was it not that bad, but everybody had so much fun that I had a hard time pulling them away after two hours! I never would have guessed that they would like it so much, and I actually had a really good time myself (I decorated a keepsake box for a young couple whose wedding we are in next weekend). I guess you could say this was one of those “teachable moments” for me. What did I learn (again)?
- Kids are inherently creative and get a big thrill out of making stuff. My kids are no Michelangelos, and their color choices and brush precision could use some work, but they felt really good about what they created.
- Kids are often more open-minded than we are. Too often we direct our kids toward mainstream activities — think soccer, scouting, gymnastics, and more soccer. Remember that they are sponges, soaking up new experiences, and we need to be careful not to pigeon hole them too early. If they’ve never done it before, they’ll probably enjoy it (at least the first time).
- Kids love to do just about anything with their parents. They usually won’t admit it, but most kids enjoy spending time with their parents. This probably changes with adolescence, but thank goodness we’re not there yet. Family life is busy and hectic and we should find ways to spend quality time with our kids. Sound cliche’, but it’s true.
The last point is the one that means the most to me. How many times have we all been reminded, “Kids grow up so fast. Enjoy them now.” Our typical school year routine is hectic and rarely presents opportunities to do what we did today. I am busy with work (I get a few hours a day max to see my kids) and they are busy with their activities. Sometimes the simple, rainy day experiences are the one the kids (and the parents!) appreciate most. You will be surprised how happy your kids can be doing Harry Pottery with you!