Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I'm Bored

Summertime and the living is easy - well except when you hear "Mom!!!!! I'm Bored!" .  Ever heard that from your kids ?  Really ?- stop it - of course you have.   I hear it from mine on a regular basis.

Summertime in particular should be a time where boredom is not only permitted but encouraged.  We have become a society, particularly in the US, of no downtime.  This is not kid specific only but it is all of us.  Downtime is high on the list things we seem to be good at shaming people on - social media is the new stockade.  As a world we easily brand people, throw virtual rotted fruit at, and of course pass judgement on many things.   It is slightly appalling and I try and control myself and apologize when I do it.   There is something so base and primitive at pointing at someone and feeling some sense of superiority over not behaving like they did.  It is the basis for much of faith based teaching and as someone who came to being an atheist by studying as much as I could about faiths in every one of them there appears to be a whole balance to that about not casting such judgement and leaving that to the deity.  That seems to be less easy to embrace from what I see vs the scarlet letter that we can steam on.   Boredom, downtime, lazying is frowned upon.

Boredom is up there in the social scolding category, as if for some reason we are not busy and entertained we are failing.  Our children are being raised very often, again my point of personal reference is what I see and experience in NY, to be busy.   They go to school, like real not just finger paint/recess/nap school, from 3 years old if not younger.  They are put on colorful mats and watched to pass milestones and be baby Einsteins and use sign language and be on schedule all from the time they come out.  As they get slightly older there are music, gym, sports, acting, STEM, coding, gaming, blah blah blah classes.  We do this because we are encouraged as parents and they each serve good purposes for our kids but for me they have never had to be all at the same time.  Our kids come home from school and go to devices to do their homework, go to practices and rehearsals, come home and go back on devices and at no point is there just plain old fashioned stare at the wall downtime for many kids.  We don't like it when they are sitting around twirling their fingers, we bemoan the fact that they just don't go outside and play and blame it on electronics.  You know the electronics we bought them and the fact that we are sort of scared to send them outside and have taught them that play is scheduled .. umm by us.  Not judging here, put down the tomato emoji, just stating what I see.

Boredom especially in the summer is a good thing.  I long to be bored and not have tasks to complete, I try and make time to watch some mindless TV,  or read , or do nothing but enjoy sitting by the beach or pool and watching people.  It is precious time where my mind can wander. My kids are learning that I am not going to help them with boredom.  That on certain days they need to find a way to entertain themselves without my planning, without electronics and maybe just to fill in some of that downtime.  I am not advocating that they are bored all the time, but let them be bored to the point where they can rest and then go on to be creative, fun, energetic, self-entertaining and be kids for a bit. 

Life is a weird marathon that we treat like a sprint.  We sometimes forget that in a marathon you have to go a little slower to make the length of the run, that we need to replenish our energy and that the finish line in life is the end of the line so really if we do not come in first it is a good thing.  It is the race that we should be enjoying and sometimes we just need to sit and rest in order to continue.

So next time you hear "I'm bored" smile and maybe be bored with your child for a while.  Let them be bored and enjoy that sprint part of the marathon of life which we know as childhood.  There is nothing better than those lazy, hazy days of summer after all.  Books were written about adventures, songs praise it, so let's not stop boredom for it often leads to creativity or just good recharging . SO go on be b o r e d!

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