There is a little blue box in our home. It has a white lid and its made of plastic. Try to carry it and you will find its quite heavy. Open it and coins from all over the world will spill out. It started out as a collection of Indian coins; every new coin was met with much happiness and older ones treated with reverence. When the collection grew, the boy whose collection it was went to the store and bought some foreign coins. The boy is now dad to two children and there is still much delight when he talks about the coins in his collection to his girls.
I remember my friend having a collection of beautiful pressed flowers. She lived in a home with a garden that had many a beautiful flower. Purple, orange and yellow flowers, well past their season would surprise us when we opened the books in her library.
There were children who collected soft-drink caps or feathers; girls who collected shells and feathers; my older child loves collecting Pokemon cards and she can spend an hour easily going through her card collection. My little one loves collecting stones; a little bag hides in the cupboard enclosing grey little stones of different sizes. On an off day she will line them up and play her games. Sometimes as we carp about the terrain, you can find her hunched up measuring and gauging more grey stones.
Forgotten are the mobile and television; all interest is diverted to the stones. Now, when I sit and think back I remember uncles and aunts who after their household work or a day at the office had their hobbies- gardening, stitching, knitting, stamp collecting- all with interesting anecdotes to tell. The story of the lilies and how they were rescued from being overrun by rats, or that wonderful little stamp from an island nation that took us somewhere far away where you could hear the waves or the adventurous one about finding an eagles father, not far from its nest. Hobbies are a way to learn, do and enjoy a few hour of leisure. It is this leisure that sweetens our days.
Hobbies help us build skills. Watching, observing, searching for another item in the collection, makes our hobby a game that never ends. Say, a child starts a button collection, suddenly the insignificant (but very important) button is noticed, observed, loved, collected, cherished, brought out, explained to others, traded with other button aficionados, demanded, gifted and cataloged. No amount of prodding by a parent can achieve that in a hobby-less situation.
Hobbies help redirect stress. Children often have a lot of pressure, sometimes they don’t realise it even. Time spent on a hobby is time not spent worrying. It is time spent in quietness, stillness, and patience. A child in the company of many coloured marbles could not be bothered with the harsh words of a classmate.
Make new friends, not all of them children. Coin collectors and stamp collectors really couldn’t be bothered with your age. They want a peek and a nice discussion about their collections. Children with hobbies are more likely to make new connections with people who are quite different from their circle of school and home. In time, these association can mature into friendships and more meaningful connections. It helps children to hold their own and discuss with some authority with adults.
Hobbies help children bond better with their families. I sit down to listen about the aforementioned Pokemon or rock collection and I am struck by how little I know about these worlds. I am encouraged to learn new names of Pikachus or feel the tiny undulation on the rock. The tables turn, my children become my teachers. We discuss their hobbies and now I too keep an eye out for their cards and rocks, along with my spouse.
Here are a few videos to nudge your children on trying a new hobby.
Dry flower making.This video teaches you to press flowers and make a little gift for a loved one.
Whatever hobby you decide to take up, be sure to be safe as you do so. This video on Ernie drives home the point.
Happy hobby hunting!