Tag Archives: boredom

Ban on Boredom

Seems like just yesterday that my youngest kids were devouring their eleventh summer…

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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Filed under Endless Summer, In the Trenches of Parentville, motherhood, The Natives are Decidedly Restless

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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Filed under Endless Summer, The Natives are Decidedly Restless

The Benefit of Boredom

As fellow columnist Scott Lowery (of Scott on Sports fame) cleverly predicted, it’s barely summer and already the dreaded words, “I’m bored,” have been uttered here. I had hoped we’d make it through a goodly portion of July before my brood succumbed to the evils of ennui. But no.

The fearsome phrase, in actuality, surfaced shortly after school let out—which is almost inconceivable given the embarrassment of activities my charges have been afforded since that time. To date, Thing One and Thing Two have engaged in roughly 37 epic squirt gun battles, 20 bazillion glee-filled runs through the sprinkler and untold face painting sessions that frequently gave birth to goatees, hideous-looking mustaches and Cesar Romero-inspired eyebrows. Oy.

They’ve also had immeasurable fun analyzing clouds and bugs, building forts and baking mud pies, launching Ken and Barbie into the stratosphere (don’t ask) and, of course, chasing the fleet of ice cream trucks that frequent our neighborhood. Frisbees, too. What’s more, they’ve logged countless hours on their beloved scooters and bikes and reveled in the company of both PhotoBooth and their Wii (i.e. the hi-tech household contrivances I have yet to fully embrace despite their collective allure). Furthermore, they’ve had the luxury of attending a multitude of wonderful camps, a handful of baseball games and picnics, a ginormous family reunion and at least one road trip during which the Alphabet Game was played till I was ready to spew forth consonants. As one might expect, they’ve also spent an inordinate amount of time holed up at friends’ houses, consumed enough S’mores for six people and disappeared within the pages of more books than I even owned at the tender age of ten.

That said, their whiny claims of “having nothing to do” are completely unfounded. Of course, this is largely due to the fact that I tried very hard to preclude tedium from ever darkening our door—filling our calendar impossibly with that-which-seemed-perfectly-feasible-at-the-time. Better still, I lived up to my tyrannical repute by filling my brood’s hands with some fairly brilliant workbooks as soon as the last school bell rang and laid down the law with respect to playing a certain French horn and clarinet.

Needless to say, my demands were less than popular with the aforementioned youths—the ones who passionately proclaimed they’d be scarred for life. “Nobody else’s mom makes their kids DO WORKBOOKS AND PRACTICE INSTRUMENTS ALL SUMMER LONG. That’s just plain mean.” At which point I named names and provided compelling data in order to prove that I wasn’t the only horrible mother on the face of the earth. Furthermore, they were in good company which became increasingly evident to one and all. Lo and behold, after weathering a brief period of time during which there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth, my mandates have since been met with only the slightest of grumblings each morning.

Even still, they grouse about a so-called dearth of diversions to occupy their precious time—the time, apparently, when they are not engaged in any of the abovementioned pursuits. Such thinking doesn’t even live on the fringe of logicalness in my mind, and quite frankly, I resent being saddled with the arduous task of finding stuff for my perfectly capable progenies to do. What am I—the Entertainment Captain?! The glorified Coordinator of Fun and Unending Amusement?! Like Amy Sorrells, a Times Sentinel Columnist recently lamented in her article, “The Day I Resigned as Camp Counselor,” I, too, begrudge the thankless post.

Besides, there is a school of thought that suggests boredom is a good thing. Peter Toohey, author of Boredom: A Lively History, argues that said affective state has been an essential part of the human experience for thousands of years and is thought to be a constructive force—one that has stimulated creativity in both art and literature the world over. Geez, I’d be happy to learn that it drives idle kids to action—better still, to extract joy from that-which-was-once-deemed-dreadfully-banal.

In light of the above, perhaps I should celebrate the words, “I’m bored,” and brace myself for the deluge of inspiration sure to come.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (helping my charges leap into the great abyss of boredom—one idle moment at a time). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under The Natives are Decidedly Restless