Everything found in the Nothing of Dog Days

My five year old is sitting on the couch, staring into space, making a dripping noise with his mouth and kicking his foot back and forth. He has been doing this for nearly twenty minutes. I have no desire to find him something to do, call over a friend for him, nor turn on a movie. Despite the myriad educational toys, puzzles, science kits, art supplies and books laying about, I will not be getting up from my chair to direct his attention towards any of it. He is doing exactly what a kid should be doing during the dog days of summer — daydreaming.

It looks like he is doing nothing and in today’s culture of go!go!go! and over-scheduling kids, his apparent laziness might cause some to panic. He is not currently building any bankable skills nor learning how to excel at a sport. He is not reading. He is not playing a game.

He is just sitting there, doing nothing.

But I’m okay with it. We did our camps and our swim lessons and now is time for him to zone out to the sound of wind chimes and street construction and the city bus zooming by. If he were listening closely he could hear his sister’s singing from the bedroom and the next door neighbors talking in their yard.

I think our kids need more time unscheduled, unplugged, unlimited. Daydreaming allows the imagination to stretch its legs, and that gives our kids the ability to invent, problem solve, create, and inspire.

Maybe he is watching the leaves rustle in the hot breeze or counting the chirps from the cardinal perched on the fence. Maybe he is in another world entirely, fighting sea monsters or traveling through space or building cities in his mind. Perhaps he is playing a vignette in his imagination, giving a silent voice over to the script because the only words he knows how to write are “Ben”, “I love my Mom”, and “Star Wars”.

Maybe he is building a machine, one that runs on the leftover sprinkles that fall to the plate after decorating cookies. Maybe he has discovered a rare bird, one whose song soothes the sick. Maybe he is a traveler, teaching magic tricks to the children of a village in exchange for dinner and a cot. Maybe he is a dog catcher, a fishermen, a stay-at-home dad. Maybe he is training alligators, or building tree houses so large a family could live in them. Maybe he is discovering how fairies make glitter.

Maybe he is doing something the imagination of his thirty five year old mom cannot conjure, a something that only a five year old could see and believe in.

Empires of imagination are built on long stretches of uninterrupted time. So sit he will on this dog day afternoon, because in the apparent nothingness is everything.

Benny doing more of nothing, on another dog day afternoon.

Review: Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer

Judy Moody unveils her double rare idea for summer.

*Disclaimer – I am not a film critic and this review is going to be biased*

I’m always looking for media to show my five year old girl that has compelling female characters. They are few and far between, which is why I was so excited upon seeing previews for Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer. Amelia and I counted down the days until it was time for our date to the theater.
If you’ve read the books, you know the plot: Judy finishes 3rd grade and is all set for an amazing summer with her three best friends when half of her plan falls apart before it even starts. Add to that Judy’s parents announce they are traveling to California without her, and her Aunt Opal (who has just returned from traveling the world and living in Bali) is coming to take care of her and her little brother, Stink. Judy doesn’t take well to the news, but ultimately shifts her expectations and ends up having a marvelous time as she spends the summer days trying her best to earn Dare Points.
There is plenty of adventure, misadventure, imagination, vivid color and creativity, day dreaming, art, and lessons on friendship to keep your kiddies interested as they munch on their popcorn. There is real world issues like intense sibling rivalry, squabling between friends, and having feelings hurt. The film shows our main girl Judy sorting through all of this and going through some growing pains.
I think it is a great summer flick for ages 5-6 years old and up and here’s why:
  • Judy Moody is very much her own unique, creative individual
  • Through the entire film girls will see Judy’s imperfect hair, imperfect teeth, and mismatched perfect-for-a-10yo outfits
  • Judy Moody has the most interesting collection of socks I have ever seen
  • Judy Moody never shies away from adventure or getting dirty
  • We see strong friendships between boys and girls
  • Judy Moody goes frog catching, creek walking, Big Foot-trap building, and chases down an ice cream truck
  • Judy is shown failing at some of her grand plans several times
  • The entire film feels like an homage to the spirit of childhood, believing nothing is impossible and creating entire worlds of adventure
  • Aunt Opal is a messy, imperfect, understanding, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants world-traveling unconventional fun artistic aunt we don’t often see women portrayed as
  • Stink, the little brother, continues to adore Judy even when she isn’t very nice to him and his obsession with Big Foot and his little brother antics are pretty funny

In an age where we see very few girls carrying the lead in a summer adventure flick….In an age where a movie offers  girls having nothing to do with shopping, fashion, being mean to each other, or romance…..In an age where girls receive messages left and right to act perfect and look perfect at all times…..In an age where childhood creativity is boxed and sold as licensed characters or foam sticker “art” sets…..

Judy Moody is a refreshing change and feels like a cool, tall glass of summertime lemonade.

 Amelia and I found the movie to be for mega totally serious top-off-spaghetti double rare. I hope your family enjoys it too!