I was home the other day with my 12-year-old daughter and she told me she was going downstairs to her dance studio. OK, fine. I make a sandwich.
Eight minutes later, there is a loud pounding on the front door that causes our “Super Guard Dog Norma” to explode into a fit of "WOOOF! WOOOF!" Instant chaos. I toss my sandwich down and spin around, ready for full-on “Protect the Family” action. I look out the window, open the door, and...
It’s the 12-year-old, out of breath.
"What on Earth?," I ask.
She says, "I tested the egress window in the basement to see if I really could escape through it and climb up!"
Just two days into “CaronaCation,” as she calls it, and she's already testing emergency exits as a pastime.
This is going to be a long couple of weeks.
Given the current situation, I thought I would ponder for a bit about how we pass the time when cooped up -- and how we used to pass the time.
Nowadays, we spend a lot of time watching streamed movies or shows, or wearing off the tips of our thumbs scrolling down our social media feeds on our cellphones.
I know some people are still turning to conventional pastimes, like family games or walks outside. Others (I've heard though my social media feed) have taken to cooking and then posting about cooking.
It's interesting that even those who choose an older method of passing time still largely add the social media aspect to it. I actually think that's good, for the most part: we stay connected. I know my kids have spent more time video chatting with friends lately, which is nice. I also have a friend who has been reading to kids via video "rooms."
Back in the early settler days, when something caused everybody to huddle in at home, they usually played homemade games, word games or anything they could think of, like rolling the hoop, hide and seek or sack races. Toys were most likely homemade, too. Ma might teach the kids a bit extra, or Pa might have them do some more barn chores.
In my own youth, I remember my sister spending a lot of time with a loop of string doing that “cats in the cradle” thing with her fingers, or just doodling pictures. We did not have streaming video or VR Goggles or the internet. Some kids played “dress up” or “make believe" or made paper airplanes.
There are always the not-as-fun options, as well, like doing repairs around the house that you've been putting off. We've already done a bit of that around our place.
Maybe you like to draw, or paint, or do some other type of crafting. It’s a great time for a new hobby, or to spend that time you never had on an old one. I used to build model cars, and that taught me the balance between motivation and patience, for sure. The first few were pretty bad, and then over time I got pretty good. Now I have a few kits that have been sitting around for almost 25 years; maybe it's time to get back into the hobby.
There are always the old stand-by things like reading and knitting and crocheting. My daughter paints and draws non-stop. I like to do wood-working and tinker with electronics. At the Becker County Museum, we have been making Craft and STEAM kits for people to do at home, along with online how-to videos. They can be found in the online store at beckercountyhistory.org.
From the timeless things that folks did 100 years ago to pass the time at home, to the thousands of new pastimes that have come about since then, the goal has always been the same: to find a healthy way to alleviate boredom and stimulate the mind.
Now go enjoy something you like to do.