“I’m bored,” is the call of most children during the summer—at
least it is for Harper Lee.  Isaac
never seems bored.  If there’s a
Hot Wheels car and a box of sand available, he’s good to go for the whole day.  Harper, on the other hand, drives me
insane with her constant need for activities.  I think it’s one of the reasons she thrives at school—eight
hours of non-stop planned activity.

When I was little, my mother didn’t really play with
me.  I had a grandmother who was
like a sibling as far as playing goes, but as for my mom, she did not see
herself as my personal play director. 
I ate breakfast, I went outside, I was called for the next meal,
etc.  I came into the house for
food, water (sometimes a garden hose would do for that), a bath and a bed.  The rest of the time was imaginary play
in the woods, the barn or the backyard. 
My friend Crystal said that her mom had an actual rule that they were
not to come inside the house again until lunch.  I think I might be in favor of this rule.

Kids need to play… outside, by themselves, with each other,
with or without toys, and for the greater part of the day, especially in the
summer.  So after one too many cries
of “I’m bored”, I sat down and composed the Young Jedi Knight mission
list.  Maybe if I can give Harper
Lee a little direction in how to create her own adventures, it will become
easier for her, and she can take Isaac along for the ride. 

The Young Jedi Knight List of Adventures

“Your mission, should you choose to complete it, is this:

1.     Capture
one grasshopper in a container with an air hole.

2.     Climb
a tree and sit in it.  What do you
see?  What do you hear?  How does the world look different to

3.     Take
a walk through the woods.  Collect
three things from there.

4.     Build

5.     Pretend
to be something or someone else.

6.     Run
as fast as you can through a grassy field.

7.     Lie
on a blanket and look at the clouds. 
What pictures do you see in the cloud?

8.     Talk
to your traveling buddy.

Once your mission is complete, return to your leader.  Watch out for snakes and poison ivy,
but do not be afraid.  The Force is
with you.”

It’s a simple plan, but it worked.  For over an hour, I didn’t see either of my children
although I could hear them laughing through the open window, and when they came
back, they had a grasshopper in a box and stories about their adventures
together.  I think they might have
even enjoyed each other just a little more that day.  Since then, we’ve had fewer actual lists, but when I tell
them to go outside, it’s becoming easier for them to come up with their own
lists and imaginary games. 
Directing their play has its place, but giving them the opportunity to
create their own is so much better for everyone.  Right now, they’re outside mixing up a batch of “antidote,”
a new concoction of Harper Lee’s that supposedly cures poison ivy, snake bites,
and can bring her brother back from the dead.  If only they had on plaid corduroy jeans and rainbow belts,
I’d think it was scene from my own childhood.