Monday, January 28, 2013

On Being 10

Being 10 isn't exactly fun all the time.  I remember being 10.  I remember that some days there weren't enough books to read, there weren't enough things to do (though picking on my sister was an unfortunate pastime that helped me while away more than a few hours), there weren't enough places to go, and my parents seemed to be irritated at me for no reason - and sometimes I at them for exactly the same lack of pretense.

The other day M1 and I were in the car, and he said to me, quite plainly, "Mom, I wish I could get a job."

"Aww," I said, pleased that he realizes he's not going to get a free ride through his entire teen years. "Why?"

"Because I'm bored," he answered, in that tone of voice that only young teens and preteens can muster. "That's why I want to play video games so much.  It's something to do."

I can see his point.  I really can.  The problem is, what do you do with a 10-year-old?  There are no volunteer opportunities for kids his age independent of the entire family.  A paying job for a 10-year-old is scooping poop or walking dogs, something that isn't a need in our neighborhood.  Paper routes?  Fugettaboutit. 

I suggested to him that perhaps he could spend his time working on a robot or learning programming languages, and he sighed and agreed, but in his next breath he told me he doesn't want to build "beginner" robots any more.  He wants to build the real deal, something that can be used in a practical application.  I cringed inwardly, because again, he's right.  He's worked with a couple of Mindstorm sets and has the programming down; they aren't as much of a challenge as he expected, and he wants more.  We visited the local Fab Lab, and he's inspired, but he was a bit overwhelmed, and obviously a parent will have to accompany him any time he wants to go down there and create anything.  He hasn't put together a cohesive design in his mind yet.

So I understand his frustration.  I really do.  I'm frustrated, too.  I wish I had some brilliant idea to keep him busy and engaged but that doesn't involve something he'll consider 'meaningless.'   In the meantime, I suppose I just keep trying.  Though if anyone out there has a thought, I'm happy to entertain it!


Anonymous said...

Yes, boredom is a huge thing here too. I'm glad we have the Youth Center nearby - my son goes there almost every day, and they offer plenty to do. Though they also have computers and ALL his friends (other boys age 10, or thereabouts) gravitate toward them. *sigh*

But he did ask me to sign him up for gymnastics class at the Youth Center, so I'm going to do that today. :)

It feels like there isn't much we can do, but encourage them to pursue their other interests, in addition to the time they are given for video games.

Andrea said...

So I know this is probably WAAY beyond Michael's level, but it might give him some options to work on or toward, or at least some resources to play with.

The site offers free telecourses from Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, Georgetown and more to the general public in things like computer science, artificial intelligence, etc. From what I can tell, many of them are self-paced and offer a non-graded option.

Sarah said...

Yup, Coursera is like that, too. I'm keeping those in mind for those times when he wants to learn something beyond my ken and outside the scope of anything a typical high school would teach. I hadn't heard of edX, though, so I'm adding that to my list! Thanks!

Beth said...

Awwww! He's hit that awkward in between stage :( I don't have any ideas, but I'm dreading it..A lot.