Anyone that has kids home for summer vacation will hear these simple words eventually...."I'm bored." I remember when I said this myself as a kid, it was my plea for any adult in close proximity to put on a clown suit and entertain me. Or help me bake cookies and clean up the mess afterwards. Or immediately drive me to Disneyland so I could have some real fun. Any of those seemed like reasonable responses. I wanted someone to bring the world to life and deliver to me (preferably on a silver platter) all the fun that I was invariably missing.
As a mom, I simply chuckle to myself when my kids claim boredom. Because I know that is when the real fun begins. After daily homework or chores are done, after the precious TV show has been watched, and after a swim in the pool is usually when boredom sets in at our house. And instead of jumping into action to keep my kids entertained when the big B-word gets tossed around, I step back and let them sink into that feeling. Because truth is, they can't/won't/don't stay there long.
When they are bored is when the elaborate games are born, like the karate class interrupting the ballet class scene that got played out over and over and over in the pool last week. Boring time is when old, forgotten toys and games get pulled out of the closet. It's when art is created. Without boredom they might never have discovered that taking Legos into the closet with a flashlight makes building more fun. Who knew? Without a little boring down time our poor trees would never have received mud massages, toenails would never be painted rainbow colors, and blanket forts would never come to life.
Of course boring isn't all fun and games with kids. It's also prime time for arguments and sibling rivalry and tears. Boredom is alleviated by annoying your sibling.....which in turn annoys everyone else in the house. Sometimes (many times) our boring times eventually end up here. Someone experiences a huge injustice. There are raised voices. Sometimes yelling. Sometimes tears. But, if mom can keep her cool, there are also teachable moments and reconciliation. Kids learn that being unkind or refusing to share doesn't really get them what they want. Or at least, I'm really praying that lesson will be learned....eventually. Still working on that one.
In my mind, being bored needs to be on every kids' summer to-do list, right along with swim lessons, and summer reading. The long days of summer present a precious opportunity to be bored. And live through it. And maybe even enjoy it. When kids have the chance to be still and enjoy unstructured time, their creativity blooms. They learn to create their own happiness rather than relying on a screen to keep them entertained. They come to understand that the world does not exist to revolve around them, but they exist to explore, enjoy and brighten the world.
Breathe easy moms and dads. Embrace boring as a blessing instead of a battle cry. "I'm bored" is not your cue to jump into action and provide entertainment. It doesn't have to be the preamble to an an afternoon of binge-watching Disney movies. It's your invitation to sit back and watch the opportunity unfold. It might be messy. It will probably be silly. There might be tears. But there might also be spontaneous underwear parades through the house. And THAT is something you won't want to miss.