Ban on Boredom

There is a curious bit of art that sits upon my friend’s kitchen windowsill, poised, I assume, to oversee the rinsing of casserole dishes and the occasional filling of a vase for wildflowers that were simply too beautiful not to be plucked from the earth and brought indoors. The art in question, a tiny square of paper featuring the word BORED rendered variously in ink roughly 197 times, was never intended as such. Instead, it served as a perfectly respectable outlet for my child’s not-so-respectable rage that stemmed from having to endure that which she deemed tiresome if not intolerable.

Naturally, I shared this quietly defiant act with my friend. Because that’s what friends do; they spread the joy that can only be appreciated by those who have worn similar shoes. Confession: On occasion, I am summarily amused when my children wrestle with frustration—like when the lid on the pickle jar won’t budge, the dog refuses to relinquish Barbie doll whateverness from his insatiable maw, the 437th dive into the pool is still a cussed bellyflop. Of course, I know it’s wrong to laugh at the expense of my brood, but I have no shame. The endearing allegiance to the misery of boredom that now rests upon the aforementioned windowsill—a beacon of impassioned self-expression, as it were—is no exception.

What makes the story more compelling, however, is the fact that the child who created said homage to indignation is almost never bored, let alone angry about being bored. Indeed, her wrath was such a rarity, I desperately sought to preserve it—with a perfectly ornate little frame. One for my friend. One for myself. So that I might revisit that anomaly-of-a-moment during which my dear progeny succumbed to the evils of ennui, lashing out at the universe, or at anyone who might be inclined to glance over her shoulder as she stewed in silence, wielding a poison pen. Thankfully, said resentment was short-lived. Soon she was back to her old self again, unearthing fun and fascination at every turn.

Even still, I can appreciate the sentiment shared by so many of our impressionable youth—their collective and decidedly whiny mantra forever emblazoned upon their minds if not upon their lips. However, I identify more closely with what that means for moms and dads in the trenches. “I’m bored” is perhaps one of the most dreaded phrases a parent can encounter in the thick of July, or anytime for that matter, inviting panic into an otherwise delicious wedge of life.

So I suppose I should consider myself fortunate, as my charges rarely utter the phrase. I credit my ability to convince all three daughters, early on, that “bored” was a bad word. In fact, using it in a sentence was expressly forbidden in our household for a very long time. As a result, Thing One and Thing Two are currently devouring their eleventh summer, as if every waking moment was imbued with rainbow sprinkles (with the exception of time spent on their math workbooks—the ones my uber-parent psyche demanded they complete by September).

At any rate, the thrum of midsummer now rings in our ears. Squirt guns and sprinklers. Fireflies and Frisbees. Hammocks and hot dogs.

Boredom-schmoredom.

Never mind the ever-present nature of barefoot children, lemonade and laughter. Treks to Grandma’s house, too—the place where we ditch our electronics and discover the simple joy of checkers, the allure of sundrenched decks and sleepy porches, not to mention the inherent beauty of being still, if only for a time.

That said, a recent trip to our friends’ lake house epitomized July’s ban on boredom. The kids in question had at their disposal a wealth of toys and sailing opportunities, but instead chose to frolic around in the lake, dig in the sand and harvest more freshwater clams than I’ve ever seen, completely absorbed in their own little world, long after darkness fell and the embers of the fire turned to ash.

Much to my delight, boredom never once reared its ugly head.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (devouring every scrumptious bit of July, National Anti-Boredom Month). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2012 Melinda L. Wentzel

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9 Comments

Filed under Endless Summer, The Natives are Decidedly Restless

9 responses to “Ban on Boredom

  1. Great post! I tell my kids “only boring people get bored!” They rarely use the word.

  2. Excellent read! I only have one of my three offspring that use the “B” word. It is pretty fixable as we have a ton of books and craft stuff…once the allotted computer time is used up. ~ Wendy

  3. Amen to bored being a dirty word! There’s always real work to be done around the house if they truly have nothing to do. Needless to say, very little gets accomplished around here.

  4. at the lake right now! loved your post.. my kids claim to be bored, too – but how could a kid be bored, there’s the lake, the sandbox, there are so many things to do that it is mind-boggling… sometimes I wish we didn’t have cable or electronics here, but…. thanks

  5. myrthtown

    Thank you for the humor, you are a wonderful writer! And I’ll be sure to remember the ‘boredom is a swearword’ tactic for when I have kids of my own.

  6. In my house, my kids know that “I’m bored” means “Please make me clean the litter box and wash the snake’s feeding cage.” I don’t hear it often.

    • “Bored” has a similar meaning in my house too. My siblings and I have all learned it well, and become very creative as we grew up. A lot of housework remained undone because we learned how to eliminate boredom.

  7. Before the days of electricity at the cottage (which we still haven’t bought into) my children never complained of boredom in the summer. Wish all children could experience a ‘summer at the lake’.

  8. Well here I am, browsing blogs, and I find yours. How magnificent. Excellent writing, hysterical, and completely relatable to me (as a mom of three). I hope someday to have garnered the wealth of experience you have in writing- drooling wanna-be writer at your doorstep this morning. 🙂