Sunday, April 1, 2012

I'm bored!

It's the weekend......and you know what that means? Mom, I'm bored? Bored, you say? I wish I knew how to be bored. Bored is wasted on the young. I remember being bored, but I can't for the life of me figure out how or why I was EVER bored as a child. I had the whole world at my feet! Hours of unsupervised playtime! I could leave home on my bike and return when I felt like it, or when it got dark, whichever came first. But I and my peers also possessed something our new generation of young seem to have lost. Evolution seems to be phasing it out. It's called imagination.

Today two of my kids were actually laying on the floor, complaining about being bored and expecting me to do something about it. Helpfully, I suggested they could do some spring cleaning which was immediately rejected. I offered them the opportunity to go through their picture drawers - deep drawers where I've tossed all their pictures and some school mementos into (what? I love doing that!). No dice. I even suggested they take their cameras and go on a photo safari, taking pictures of "signs of spring" (see how helpful I was offering a theme?). There was a tiny spark of interest but it dimmed as quickly as it had burned. I said it was really THEIR job to learn how to entertain themselves and my child said she didn't know how. Truly, is this now a learned behavior? Is necessity no longer the mother of invention?

When I was "bored" as a child, I would retreat into my room and lay on my bed and draw. Nothing made me happier and the best gift I could ever get was blank white paper which I filled with hundreds of drawings of people. In my head, there was always a story going; instead of writing it down, I drew it. Sure, it made no sense to anyone else. But I didn't draw for anyone else. I drew for me. It was my entertainment. I also loved playing with Fisher Price Little People. Or just sticks of different sizes that could be my pretend "family". As a teen, I would read, make photo albums, write notes to friends, write letters, listen to music, take a walk, hang out with friends doing nothing, bake. I could always come up with something and I didn't ask my parents to entertain me. I KNOW I lamented that I was "bored" many times, but I don't remember getting a suggestion of what to do unless it included the vacuum cleaner or a container of Comet.

I firmly believe that too much screen time has seeped our kids' imagination from their brains. Without a screen, they are lost. At any given time they have a cell phone, a computer, an iPad, a TV. Once they exhaust their options on those, they have no clue where to turn. But inside the house we have books, arts and crafts, music, games. And outside there's a world of possibilities. Still, today they wanted to "go somewhere". When I suggested several parks, they said "and do what?" ( When I suggested a short hike, they said there was "no place good around here". So, we didn't go anywhere. Because we couldn't agree on what to do. Which was just fine with me, because my "to do" list will never be completely done and I was plenty busy.  I clipped coupons and paid bills. What fun! And I still have "homework" from my job to do. It involves coloring (hey, I work in a kindergarten!) and do you think they want to help me with that? Nope. Now, I ask you, who doesn't love to color?

I guess they might as well enjoy being bored while they can. For all too soon, they will be so busy they won't have time to be bored. They will WISH for a day when all the chores are done, and everyone is fed, and everyone has clean clothes and there's food in the pantry, and the floors are clean, and the bills are paid, and the house is spotless, and they find themselves suddenly and utterly struck by paralyzing boredom. And by the time they begin to think about what to do with all that delicious, unexpected time, the baby will cry and the dog will throw up on the rug and a glass will break, and the doorbell will ring, and someone will be hungry and, likely as not, someone will be pulling on their leg saying "I'm bored!"

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