Have you seen the Caine's Arcade video yet? If not, it is a must-see. (It is at the bottom of this post.) I love this kid, and more than that, I love his dad. Kids are so spoiled these days (mine included) with iPods, iPads, Wiis, and 24/7 cartoons that it just seems to suck the creativity out of them. Caine's childhood reminds me more of my own. One summer, all the kids in the neighborhood decided we were going to build a car. Imagine Fred Flintstone's car built with scrap lumber, a million nails, paint, and old roller skate or skateboard wheels, and you have a pretty good picture of it. We spent hours every day from sun up to sun down in the stifling Texas heat in my parents' carport building that thing. My mom's poor car tires suffered more than one puncture wound from the nails we left scattered hither and yon. She just patched the tires and let us keep going though. We were out of her hair, out of her house, and using every bit of creativity, teamwork, and determination that we had. After the car's short maiden voyage where we realized our engineering of the wheels really didn't work out so well, we turned the car into a lemonade stand. How's that for making lemonade out of a lemon?
I try to foster that environment for my girls. I kick them outside with the neighbors and tell them they have to play outside. When Addie and I are taking our weekend siestas, the girls know they aren't allowed in the house unless someone is bleeding. They always manage to entertain themselves - usually with bikes, scooters, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, dancing, and friends. They have yet to build anything the scope of a car or arcade though. Perhaps I need to enforce more boredom? We had enough cardboard from broken down Girl Scout cookie boxes that they probably could have built Six Flags if they had been inspired.
Perhaps next time they claim they are bored or ask to watch TV, I'll hand them some packing tape, empty boxes, scrap wood, a box of nails, and a hammer, and tell them to go away. I'd love to see the results. I know somewhere under the layers of Lady Gaga lyrics, Temple Run high scores, and iCarly quotes, there are children with big dreams, endlessly creative minds, and boundless optimism that only children have.
Here is the Caine's Arcade video. It will make you smile, make you cry, and make you wish you hadn't bought your kid that handheld video game.