At long last, it’s summer. Warm days, sandy beaches, ice cream cones, boredom.
As summer settles in and the prospect of long lazy days with nothing to do stretch before them, my kids do what millions of other kids do, they look to mom. As if I have magically morphed into Julie McCoy and my only role in life is to make certain their days pass in leisure and fun. Ha!
It makes me sad for my kids since clearly they have not been paying attention. My poor kids want Julie McCoy but are stuck with Carla Tortelli! Oh cruel fate! So they spend their time wishing for mini-golfing or trips to Canobie Lake Park. Instead, they get “Oh, you’re bored, why didn’t you say so. That changes everything. Please allow me to drop what I’m doing and entertain you. Oh wait, on second thought, why don’t you go clean your room, or wash my car, or give the cat a bath!” That little rant is generally met with eye rolls and foot stomps. Recently, the path to non-boredom is being able to spend loads and loads of my money, on movies, on lunch, on nothing. Yeah that’s not going to fly. Do you feel for my poor neglected children yet?
I used to think that at some point it would stop being my responsibility to make sure they had activities and plans. Apparently, I have neglected to clue the kids in on that. I’ve already had the phone call asking me if I could leave work and take them somewhere!
Unfortunately for my kids, I believe in boredom. Not only do I believe in it, I’m convinced that it’s necessary. Ride your bike in the rain. Stare at the clouds, write your name over and over again (oh, wait, that’s for in-school boredom, never mind.) It’s like a palate cleanser from over-stimulation. No TV, no Xbox, no phones, no computer. Just you. And your thoughts. Getting re-acquainted. It’s a beautiful thing.
It’s not easy to get them to embrace their boredom. No, they kick and scream. “Shut off my phone! Have you lost your mind, crazy lady?!” “No TV, do you want me to die!” They huff and holler. “Why, mother, do you hate us so?” “Why don’t you want us to be happy, like other children?” Why indeed!
We have begun a social experiment this summer. Dylemma (cool mash-up right) unplugged. The premise is simple, for a certain period each day, they must do something low-tech. No computer, no TV, no Xbox, nothing interactive or electronic. That went over about as well as you can imagine. Nevertheless, they’re committed to making their mom look like a fool when it fails, so they’re in. Even if it’s less than whole-heartedly.
How do you explain that boredom can kick off the best day in the world? That boredom opens your mind to possibility. That boredom is only boring when you’re doing it wrong. Somewhere along the way boredom got a bum rap. I’m on a mission to change that. One plugged in kid at a time.
My favorite part? When they realize I’m right.
Barbara Mulvey-Welsh is a mother, writer and blogger raising kids and a husband in Plymouth. Check out her blog "Did I Say that Outloud" at http://barbaramulveywelsh.blogspot.com/. Use caution when reading around the family, there is some strong language.