Saturday, October 01, 2005

An Occupied Child is Never Bored

By Christina VanGinkel

We had company yesterday evening that included four children. Friends of my husband and me, the parents are a young couple who are obviously enjoying their children. The oldest is in kindergarten, with her three younger siblings ranging in age from six months to three years old. Rarely does one see kids this close in age in one family anymore, let alone kids as happy and as good natured as these four are. They had come for a visit to share some birthday cake with my youngest son who happened to turn thirteen years old this past week. We grownups deemed it a good excuse to have a visit, and the mother had brought along her computer she was having problems with, so that I could look at it for her.

We had also invited my husband's parents down for a piece of the cake and a cup of coffee. They had never met this other couple or their children, and after introductions and dessert, they were back on their way home, not being ones to visit for any length of time, so it was quickly back to the four younger adults and five kids. I headed into my kitchen to work on the computer, as did the mother, leaving the five kids, her four, my one, and the two guys in the living room. Even with the vast age range from six months to thirteen years, they managed to find enough to keep themselves occupied for several hours, with the help of the dads keeping a close watch on all of them, especially the littlest one.

As the evening wore on, I was reminded why families of times past, such as the one I grew up in, were not badgered constantly with numerous 'there is nothing to do's'. We kids would get bored occasionally, but I know we were never quick to voice it, as there was always something to do, such as play with or watch a younger sibling, wash dishes, dust, rake the yard, complete homework or 4-H projects, and a long, long list of other tasks.

Another couple we know, who have several children of various ages, has commented on a similar insight. With so many children they rarely hear the dreaded 'I am bored' words, as there is always something going on in their household, from doing chores to following in the footsteps of an older sibling, or chasing after a younger sibling. The kids have all been involved in various group activities outside of the house from time to time also, mainly church or 4-H sponsored events. Family time though is the main time consuming part of their lifestyle.

So many families today have just one or two children, often due to financial issues, or because they live in a house, where space is an issue and they cannot see themselves living elsewhere, or they just want one child or two. There is nothing wrong with any of these reasons, as there is nothing wrong with having a large family, especially when there is so much joy in raising them. Whether your family unit is small or large, enjoy them, and take a lesson from families past; an occupied child is never bored!

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