Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Imagination. And a boy with a box on his head.

When the boys joined our family, we said to them, "You guys have 99 acres to play in. Go have fun!"

Instead, they followed us around saying things like, "I'm bored" and "There's nothing to do." For them, fun was sitting in front of the TV playing video games.
Our boy with
a box on his head.
We're so proud! 

We suggested that if they were bored they could help us around the house by, for example, cleaning up Hank's enormous piles of dog shit in the backyard. We thought that might kickstart their imagination. Unexpectedly, after getting over the initial smell and grossness, they began to help.

"Use your imagination," we'd say! "Go build a fort, climb a tree, play cops and robbers, build sandcastles, anything!" Instead, all we'd get were blank stares.

"When George and I were your ages", we'd tell them, "we would leave our houses at 9am, come home for some lunch, then take off again until dinner. We had no problems finding things to do." Why couldn't they, we wondered?

So we called our case worker up for some advice. What she told us  blew us away. Like many children in "the system",  they didn't know how to use their imagination. Basically, they didn't know how to "play" in the traditional sense of playing. In this aspect of child development, they were behind. Our job, she told us, was to teach them how to play. So we did. Or we tried to, anyway! Thankfully George was/is on parental leave so he could do a lot of playing. And believe me, he knows how to play. You should see his collection of Lego!

One Saturday George took down part of our porch and built the boys a fort in the backyard. They played in it for about 3 days, but eventually got bored of it.

Another day we covered the front porch with paper and spent an afternoon drawing a city on it so the boys could use their cars on its roads. Worked great until it rained and washed away the city.

We bought some kites and, on the first windy day, we went into the field beside our house to have some fun. It wasn't. One boy let go of his kite and it ended up in a barn's silo. The other boy got scared because the kite got so high. So he stood still and cried. The other boy, well, he just ran around not knowing what to do. We tried though!

We bought some board games and UNO cards and try to play with them as much as possible. We've also made Friday evenings Family Game Night, which they seem to enjoy.

George even dumped his entire collection of Lego (except the space shuttle) into their bin so they could have a mega-collection of Lego (which they absolutely love and spend hours and hours building really cool stuff.)

Lately, we've noticed them puttering around out back in the piles of dirt our neighbour has been ploughing. On their own. Without us having to show them what to do.

Anyway, long story short, our work seems to be paying off. Last week we bought some new lights for the kitchen. After unpacking them, the boys asked if they could use the boxes. 15 minutes later, we could hear them in the livingroom. One minute the box was a bus. The next minute it was a house. Then they took it outside and made the box the goalie for their hockey game.

It seems they do have an imagination.


Lindsay said...

I think this is my favourite of all your posts.

Robert & George said...

Thanks Lindsay!