First one: done, done, and done some more. My kids read, and I've grown weary of explaining why this is not a good thing Any benefit to their brains is outweighed by the decrease in lifespan caused by sitting all day, if I'd let them.
Another good tendency gone bad in same kids is the abandonment of a fine idea after a short burst of effort. Maybe most kids are like this, but I can only speak to the brilliance of mine, who, if they'd follow through, would be president by now, or at least a relatively unknown yet respected indie filmmaker.
Knowing my children, then, and wanting to "stop the brain drain!", I suggested we undertake together what would become known as The June Project. We'd each choose a challenge to work on daily--something that couldn't potentially be finished by June 11. I gave the example of the guy who undertook a yearlong photo-a-day challenge back when you couldn't see right away what the photo would look like; he would have to wait or hope for the best moment of each day to capture. This kind of thing makes you appreciate the diligence and discipline that all good ideas require, and was just what my little guys needed.
So after ruling out some finishable ideas, we came up with these:
- Theo (age 10): write a story. I read the beginning, which reminded me yet again that the kid has a gift. He has an innate sense of the rhythm of words, and this is something that comes only with voracious reading (yes, I know), and even then, not always. I love seeing him huddle over his little desk.
- Simon (age 13): read the 754-page Team of Rivals. Definitely not finishable by the end of June, though Simon will often willingly work past our allotted time. I started a blog for him so that he'd also have to summarize what he read. I'm quite amazed at the retention going on. The kid reads constantly, but he's not the kind of A student you figure is storing all the info. But he is, and he can summarize it in a fun way. Go see, and leave a comment to totally make his day: http://withoutrival.blogspot.com/
- Me (age 43): study the topic of muscle tension and trauma therapy. See my previous post for details.
Each day this month, we set aside at least 30 minutes to work on these ideas. Some of that, for me at least, involves staring out the window; even then, I trust we'll all learn, or remember, that part of success at anything is just showing up. What's best, though, is seeing the creative afterglow. Even though they know I bought a little prize for each of them for the end of June, this sense of accomplishment is almost reward enough.