Posted in mothering, unschooling, writing

Lazy Is A Four Letter Word

I caught sight of this from Momversation on my Twitter feed this morning: Is a Lazy Summer Really So Bad? Contributor Shannon of talks about letting kids be kids on summer break and how, as she sees it, they have eighteen summers before the Grown-Up World gives them the ol’ smack-down and fun screeches to a halt forever. Now, she’s got a point, and if you’ve bought in to the whole school-work-retirement-death model then it’s a damn good one. But as soon as I see that four-letter word, l-a-z-y, my hackles stand up and the surface of my eyeballs starts peeling off.

I despise the lazy label.

What’s the problem? The problem here is, what Shannon describes isn’t a lazy summer at all. It’s a normal summer. And the profiteering of those entities that sell the condemnation of being lazy threatens to bankrupt half the middle class and destroy childhood forever. No time for watching clouds, roasting marshmallows (ack! the chemicals! NO YOU MAY NOT EAT MARSHMALLOWS DON’T YOU KNOW THAT CONTRIBUTES TO ADHD WHICH WILL IMPAIR YOUR ABILITY TO GET INTO AN IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL???), catching fireflies, or that dreaded most-lazy-of-all-pastimes: daydreaming. All this overscheduling engineers exactly what the Establishment needs to perpetuate itself: more drones who can’t think for themselves. Many of the great minds ironically most revered in schools were, if not completely unschooled, at least allowed space to cultivate thought and creativity as children. Certainly Edison, Einstein, Lincoln, and Curie (just to name a few) didn’t get carted from one formulaic organized groupthink activity to the next throughout their childhoods.

The condemnation of lazy isn’t limited to kids either. Adults push each other at work, at the gym, and on the subliminal message sourcebox implanted in almost every home in America (need a translation? that would be your TV). We are weekend warriors, we plan activities even on vacation, we cram it all in, but at what price to health and sanity? As William Sloane Coffin said, “Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” Chinese astrology aside, will winning the rat race be your greatest accomplishment as you reflect on your life at its end?

A wise friend, Tina Tinsley, once told me, “You’re not lazy when you’re doing what you want to do.” This key insight can be a powerful tool to guide planning and decision making. The next time I catch myself calling myself lazy I’m going to pull out this tool and ask, what is it I want to be doing right now? Feeding offspring and refereeing arguments notwithstanding, I’m going to begin a list of honest answers to that question. With three small kids, I may not be able to always attend to my “right now” desires in the now, but the simple act of naming and owning them feels like a wonderful (if subtle) rebellion against a culture that would prefer to busy me into an early grave. And I’m going to banish “l-a-z-y” to the four-letter-word list.

Will you join me?