The art of self-entertainment (and are we losing it?)

soccer ballGive a man to fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

Give my husband a soccer ball, and he becomes a little kid again.


Some of my favorite moments come when I watch my husband pull out his battered, worn soccer ball and start gently dribbling it across the living room floor.

It’s striking to me because 1) I was never allowed to do that growing up (“No playing with a ball inside the house, girls!”) and 2) he can keep himself entertained for a long time – sometimes half an hour or more – trying to be the next Ronaldinho.

Fast forward to a recent babysitting encounter where I watched a friend’s 1-year-old for less than two hours before he went to bed. The TV set was on, the floor was littered with toys beeping and flashing lights, and the child careened around the living room in search of yet more stimulation. I was exhausted in less than 10 minutes.

Since when did we start “needing” fancier and more sophisticated tools to entertain ourselves?

I once saw a documentary featuring children in the Philippines. They were playing games with their flip-flops. That’s right, flip-flops. No video games or tickle-me Elmos.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing. I remember when I was in Africa, I was struck by how often parents left their children unsupervised. Hours would pass before the parents would start looking for their kids, and most of the time the kids had played quite happily among themselves without incident.

Now, I’m not saying that we never play video games or watch television in our household. My husband is an avid FIFA player, and I like watching him play Dungeons & Dragons (yes, that game can be incredibly addictive!).

But I love how he can entertain himself just by bouncing a soccer ball or striking up a conversation. Hopefully we can always keep that skill, no matter how technology progresses and how busy our lives become.

About multiculturalmarriage

I'm glad to be part of a multicultural marriage! I grew up in the U.S. but am married to an African husband. This makes life challenging, creative and cool - all at the same time!
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