When I was a new parent, I read a lot of blogs and advice and books about how to limit your kids' exposure to bad things and keep them from rotting their brain on worthless activities. How do you keep them from watching TV nonstop, or getting addicted to the internet?
Limits are important. Balance is important. But I also wanted to think about the importance of things where kids should be encouraged to go overboard. I promised myself that I wouldn't ever refuse to get my children any book they wanted, and that I wouldn't stop them from reading any time they wanted. I feel the same way about their time outside; slather sunscreen on 'em and let 'em stay out as long as they want.
I've always been a binger. When I want to do something, I want to do it hour upon hour, day upon day. As a kid, I binged on books. And I've always been extraordinarily grateful that my parents let me do it. They let me read in church and in the car and at the dinner table. These are things that not every parent would allow. But perhaps they thought that reading was a good enough habit overall that they shouldn't risk squelching it by defining a too-narrow range of times and places when it should be practiced.
If my kids want to write, build, draw, create, read, exercise, play, cook, invent, puzzle, knit, design, laugh, figure, sing, dance, race, compete, imagine, color, cartoon, perform, film, photograph, decorate, or pretend -- I'm not going to be the one to tell them to quit.