Remember as a kid when you’d say “I’m bored” to your mom. My mom’s response was always, “Read a book. Write a letter. Write a book. Read a letter.” And we’d sigh a big annoyed sigh, kick the floor then be on our way.
To my own kids I say this same thing or “bored is as bored does” or I offer up a list of serving suggestions.
Yesterday, I was working. My husband was home and offered an outing to the resident 6 and 10 year olds. The 6 year old went. The 10 year old declined. As my husband left he uttered the words that I’m sure the 10 year old didn’t want to hear but the words I would have uttered also, “No screen time!” Ah, foiled again.
She stayed home anyway. For a lazy summer morning at home with her 13 year old brother still sleeping. No screen time. Now what? She called me at work. “What am I gonna do? I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.”
I of course offered a list of ideas, all of them rejected without even the slightest consideration. When will I learn that the statement of “I’m bored” isn’t exactly looking for solutions of the D.I.Y variety. Rather it usually wants some sort of action. Like a trip to the cold springs or a friend’s or anywhere that wasn’t home. After a couple of minutes of rejected suggestions I reminded her to check her list of “boredom busters” she had made at the end of the school year, said goodbye and hung up, leaving her to her boredom.
When I got home there the most colorful paper dolls on the kitchen table that I had ever seen. In her bored state she sat down with markers and blank paper and just started coloring wildly – filling the paper in completely. Then she folded it up and cut it into the classic paper dolls. She made a few. They were lovely.
Had I been there to intercept her boredom, or had my husband allowed her verboten mid-day screen time, this project would never had come to fruition. It wouldn’t even have popped into her head. But instead, her bored state opened the gate to her own creativity. She didn’t need me. Or my suggestions. Or to be whisked away to something else. She just needed to be allowed to get bored.
It’s hard to remember when our kids are bored that we don’t need to rescue them, rather we can just let them be bored. And see what beautiful place their boredom will take them.