When I was a kid, Santa would fill up my stocking with a few presents (maybe a Hotwheels car and a Pez Dispenser), but mostly it was crammed full of walnuts and mandarin oranges. Things were different at my wife’s house. When she was a little girl, Santa loaded her stocking with lots of truly stellar presents: A-quality toys, clothes, and candies. (She must have been higher up on the Nice List.)
My kids are lucky (i.e. “spoiled”) because we have adopted my wife’s holiday tradition. Those girls of mine get way too much cool stuff in their stockings. Now, just last week, we journeyed back from our X-Mas vacation, and we’ve slowly been unpacking. The girls have a couple bags with stocking stuffers — many of which are educational toys, books, games. And many of which have not been fully enjoyed. In all that frenzy of wrapping paper, it’s easy to open one ting and then move onto the next mysterious box.
Now, I want them to appreciate each gift fully… so here’s what I do. Any gift that has any sort of education valyue is placed next to a comfy green chair in the corner of our house. I call it the Boredom Chair. For the next two months or so, anytime the girls come up to me and say “Dad, I’m bored,” I’ll say:
“Great! Let’s pay a visit to the boredom chair.” once there, we’ll grab whatever is on the top of the pile. If it’s an activity book they attack it with an ink pen. If it’s a game, they’ll play it. If it’s a new Leapster cartridge, they’ll try it out.
Of course, you don’t need to have old Christmas presents next to your family’s boredom chair. Dig out some old National Geographic magazines (perhaps ones that you wouldn’t mind being turned into a collage). Set some arts and crafts next to the chair. Look on the shelves and find some of your favorite operas or classic rock CDs. Find a busted clock radio out in the garage and give them permission to take it apart. Anything that will stir up their imagination and make them fall more in love with learning — find it and place it next to the Boredom Chair.
Try it out — and let me know how it goes. Here’s to 2009 — and the end of boredom!