Okay, not in that sense, though she is a touch . . . shall we say . . . okay, maybe not.
Anyways, Mad-Eye. “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” he would roar, and his students would jump in their seats.
Similarly, I’m pretty sure our daughter’s mantra is “CONSTANT STIMULATION!” And believe me, we tremble.
Over the years we’ve realized that the Maiden seems to have a need for constant, unending stimulation: learning and doing and interacting and more. Playing quietly on her own doesn’t cut it. Or it does, for about 10 minutes. Then she’s off in search of something new and exciting and invigorating.
This is a child who cycles from scrapbooking to making zombies to running a sewing store out of her parents’ bedroom to creating a vending machine to demanding schoolwork to doing science experiments–all in the space of half an hour. In another half-hour period she was playing Lego ambulance and then being a princess on the run from the bad guys who had murdered her father and were out to poison the remaining two members of the royal family (okay, maybe she needs to lay off the Royal Diaries historical series for a bit) and then playing paleontologist and digging up a dinosaur skeleton from a kit and then changing costume and persona to that of a visitor named Elizabeth who is very polite and likes pancakes for dinner.
That leaves 23 more hours left to fill.
The Maiden knows how to go after her own needs—to a point. But she needs more than her 6-year-old brain can create, much more. She craves stimulation, structure, plan. She needs the newness of something she’s never done before (or at least not for a few weeks). Books and toys and random bits of junk from the trash-to-treasure box can only go so far. Mommy and Daddy try, but some days it feels as though they’re being sucked dry and yet not even coming close to giving her what she seems to require.
We rarely do weekday television or electronics, so that’s out. Also, it’s apparently not STIMULATING enough because if we do break down and let her watch a movie (like yesterday), she’s got out her markers and is trying to draw centaurs and then she starts running back and forth to her closet to change her outfit and grab her tap shoes to accompany the music and of course she has to go and make herself snacks and read her book and do whatever else she can find to fill the space because TV isn’t interactive enough and she needs needs needs input input input information must have must have AUUUUGHHH!
This is where summer camps come in.
Every spring I make a master calendar of all the camps available, and together we make our own plan. There’s something different for almost every week, and the Maiden is in her element.
I know it’s contrary to “parenting wisdom,” that nebulous school of thought that blankets all kids with the same solutions. “Why don’t you just let kids be kids?” is the constant refrain.
The thing is? This is how she is a kid.
Just chilling makes her agitated and unhappy. Her insatiable thirst for knowledge and adventure and constant new experiences is hers, and she owns it. It’s a need that’s every bit as important to her as food, water, good air to breathe.
Without it, the world falls apart . . . and so does she.
Summer camps are a wonderful way for her to have the new adventures she craves and to broaden her little horizons. Learning new things, exploring new paths, trying out new activities–that’s what she’s all about. She gobbles it up and begs for more. At home, she spends time re-enacting with us what she’s done or learned, because that’s how she processes her world.
I love it.
So far on the lineup: gymnastics, cheerleading, swimming, art, music, drama, science, ballet, jazz, history, and more. Throw in trips to the library and park, playdates with friends, community programs, Mommy-daughter book club, bowling and mini-putt as a family, the Magic School Bus Science Club kits, random workbooks that she blows through way too fast, her Ancient Egypt-themed birthday party (for real), and our annual camping trip, and summer’s shaping up to be fun, invigorating, and full of the constant hubbub her little mind so desperately craves.
Relaxed? Not really. Satisfying? Totally.
Kid being a kid? Yes, on her terms.
Let the summer begin.