Home Education Magazine
September-October 1997 - Articles
Where Do You Want the Sandbox?
by Lisa Hodge Kander
When our kids were younger, Ken and I had a long discussion that really boiled down to this question: Where do you want the sandbox?
It was a serious question. We were already making lots of choices that set us apart, what with home births and extended breast feeding -- and now that our babies were toddlers and small children and wanted some social life, we were trying to decide how that social life should play out.
Where do you want the sandbox? Do you want the sandbox -- the place where the kids gather, make friends, play -- to be at your house, where you can watch, participate, know what's happening -- and be overwhelmed, and be responsible, and have to keep the snacks coming? Or do you want the sandbox at someone else's house, so that you'll have a break, find some time to yourself, save on the snacks and the clean up -- and not be overwhelmed by, but also not be on top of, your kid's every move.
Well, some 10 or 12 years ago, we built a big sandbox, with wide seats, under a big oak tree for shade. It was overwhelming... and fun. It worked for us.
Truth to tell, we did visit other sandboxes from time to time. That was fun, too. But we were happy to have the sandbox at home, to be The tot social centers in the neighborhood. We had to chase out the cats, and keep juice and crackers and cookies in stock. We had to decide when to intercede, and when to develop selective hearing, with the sibling and neighborhood wars. We had to sweep up sand from the kitchen, and keep extra clothes on hand for little friends who just got too dirty, or wet, to make it home.
Now, our older children are teens, and we are facing the same question again. Where do we want the sandbox?
Of course, now the sandbox is symbolic. The issue is still the same. We're still making those choices that set us apart, and now that our teens are ready for a teen age social life, we find that the issue arises once again.
Where do you want the sandbox?
Where do you want the place where the kids gather, make friends, hang out?
Do you want this at your house, where you'll be able to participate (some), know what's going on (sort of), and be overwhelmed, and be responsible, and have to keep the snacks coming? Or do you want it at someone else's house, so that you'll have a break, find some time to yourself (you may need it!), save on the snacks and the clean up -- and not be overwhelmed, but also, not be quite as in touch with your teen's life.
Some things just don't change. We're working on our basement now, cleaning out and drafting some friends to help us finish the basement into a great sandbox -- well, actually a recreation room with TV, CD player, table tennis and comfortable, friendly space.
But some things do change. Our teens make more choices for themselves, and some of those choices are to spend time with their friends away from home. No matter how great the nest, the time comes when you must try your wings.
It's an exciting time for our family. Probably for yours too. Here's wishing you shady oaks, broad seats, and few cats for your sandboxes, wherever they are!
© 1997 Lisa Hodge Kander
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