June 1, 2017
Have you heard the 2 words every mother wants to hear 2 weeks into summer vacation yet? You know the ones. Yes. You just said them in your mind with the whiny twinge that makes even the most patient of mothers grit her teeth. The fatal, “I’m bored.” Two weeks ago, every student ranted and raved over the unbearable amount of work left in the school year. They fainted at the thought of studying for one more test. They tormented anyone who would listen to them with classroom tales equal to the torture of Dante’s Inferno.
Now, two weeks into the freedom that is summer, they declare with exaggerated passion, “I’m bored.” I confess that I took a secret pleasure in hearing those words uttered when Maddy and Hunter were younger. You see each summer, we agreed that when those words fell from their lips, I alone found activities to fill their time and ease their boredom. I mean, after all, what kind of mother would I be if I allowed my children to be tortured by such a dreadful condition?
I remember early in the summer between Hunter’s 7th and 8th-grade year, he caught himself mid-declaration. “I’m bor…” I called down to the kitchen to ask him to repeat what he said. He responded with as much confidence as he could muster, terrified I would not buy his story. “I said, ‘I’m a board. I was practicing creating similes.'” Maddy countered quickly, “That’s a metaphor. You didn’t include like or as.” The arguing ensued. Maddy, thinking that she claimed victory and invoked an epic consequence to her brother, began to laugh hysterically.
I made my way to the kitchen and feigned interest in her laughter. “What’s so funny?” “Hunter admitted he was bored. What’s he have to do?” In our home, we do not celebrate when someone gets in trouble or earns a consequence. It’s, how should I say, not a best practice. As I pondered the question, Maddy realized I was taking too long. Terror filled her face. At the end of the afternoon, I reclined in the patio chair and enjoyed the beauty of my weed free garden. It’s amazing how quickly two, able-bodied teenagers can clear out a yard of weeds. Over dinner, we discussed the benefit of helping our siblings explore activity options rather than complain about boredom. Additionally, we discussed ways to control our excitement when our sibling gets into trouble. Personally, I found the conversation quite enlightening.
I encourage you to consider a list of activities available to your darlings should the torture of boredom overtake them this summer. I worked diligently to create a list that would deter Maddy and Hunter from vocalizing their boredom. Why? It forced them to find activities, to use their imaginations, and to explore new things. Some psychologists suggest that boredom is good for the developmental soul. I agree to a point. I agree, so long as the boredom results in creative thinking. I agree, so long as the boredom does not result in hours of mindless screen time that diminishes exploration and exercise.
I truly hope that you are enjoying a slower pace and some schedule free down time. I can’t wait to see you all in the fall! The school hallways are WAY TOO quiet. And I’m bored…
Honored to Serve You All,
Food for Thought: Psychologists Recommend that Children be Bored in the Summer