Bored to Life
by Rachel Allord
I’m looking forward to having my kids at home for the summer. But if I hear them say “I’m bored,” I’m going to pull out my hair. Or theirs. Who was the first kid to moan this complaint? I doubt pioneer kids dared say such words since they were too busy splitting wood and warding off coyotes. Did boredom ail Cain and Abel or is it a sign of our times? And no doubt my response echoes the cries of parents across the country: “How can you be bored with all of this stuff?”
Like most American kids, my children own plenty of things: toys and games and DVDs to keep them entertained, whereas I could I only watch my favorite movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” once a year on a low-definition, black and white set.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-technology or anti-stuff. I savored the two hours of car silence while my children sat glaze-eyed in front of “Tangled” during our family vacation to South Dakota. But watching cows from the car window should count as entertainment too.
We can’t live in caves, and technology isn’t the big, bad, beast. Just this morning I went online and found over a hundred recipes for Vietnamese Chicken. But striking a balance with modern-day technology can be tricky.
School may soon be out, but the lesson I hope to impart this summer is that we were created to create, not merely consume. Instead of watching a movie, make a movie. Or sketch a comic strip. Paint a piece of wood. Design a dream-house floor plan. Construct a sword from duct tape and tinfoil. Go outside and hunt for treasures, i.e. rocks and feathers and pinecones.
Here’s the truth: fostering creativity not only requires more from my kids, but it also requires more from me. Creativity breeds mess and, without a doubt, frustration for child and parent alike. Hands down, it’s much easier to let the kids languish on the couch watching “Phineas and Ferb.” But boredom, if we let it, may become the impetus for imagination, and imagination is what sparks our kids to life. Unplugging our kids may propel them to make something happen for themselves, instead of watching something happen to someone else on a screen.
Like the other day, when my 7-year-old pulled out her Sponge Bob toy from her kid’s meal and asked, “What does it do?”
Whatever you want him to do, Darling. You play with it. You get to be a creator.
Rachel Allord lives in central Wisconsin with her husband and two un-boring children, ages7 and 12. Follow her at harperleesushiandme.blogspot.com.