As families approach spring break from school, consider the power of silence.
Turn all your electronic devices off and listen to the sound of your own thoughts. Turn your child's devices off as well. He or she will resist at first. This is only natural, but with gentle firmness, this habit can be broken.
Start with the computer - the ultimate multipurpose device. Then the TV, the iPhone or cell phone, the hand-held gaming equipment, the DVD player in the car. Expect it to be difficult at first. With nothing electronic to fill our ears and attract our eyes, we have to start noticing more subtle things around us.
Like the sound of the wind in the trees. Or that painting on the wall of the living room that you haven't really looked at in years. Or that line from a poem that pops into your head in the space left open by the absence of electronic signals - where is that book of poetry? How does that poem start?
Some time later, you look up from the found volume, from your spot on the floor by the bookshelf and notice that it's gotten dark. Your child long ago gave up trying to convince you to let him turn on the computer and is making up games in the backyard with neighborhood friends. You have lived for long moments in the timelessness of an encounter with an old friend. Your child has become a creator of experience rather than a consumer of content.
Spring break will throw many families together for a time. Days are lengthening and moods are lifting with the mercury in the thermometer. Take the time to breathe in the richness of experiences of your own making. Gently remove the electronic barriers to intimacy and tap into the range and depth of experiences that your children have been having in school these past months. Find out what they are thinking about, what questions about the world they are wrestling with.
And enjoy the approach of spring.