This time of year, I dread the sounds of the season. It’s not crackling chestnuts on the fire. It’s not jingle bells, sleigh bells or any other bell for that matter that bugs me. Nope. It’s a different sound entirely. With kids on break from school, I quickly get fed up with that refrain every parent knows. It’s that chorus of children singing, “I’m bored.”
Kids don’t understand the beauty of having nothing to do. What I’d give to be bored!
They go on break and their lives stop, but mine certainly doesn’t. Two weeks of winter break is bad enough. A three month long summer of We’re bored, and I’m ready to petition the school district for all-year school. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas just so I can kick them OUTSIDE for some sledding.
There’s an art to being bored. I looked forward to Thanksgiving, Winter, spring and summer breaks just to hone my skill with boredom, and I mastered it as a kid. Just the threat of being sent to work in the garden was enough for me to shut my yap and find something to do. I’d find a stick, and suddenly I was a dragon slayer. Grab a basketball and I was transported to Madison Square Garden taking the last shot with just three seconds left on the clock. I didn’t have a thousand movies or video games to take me to new worlds. I was left to find and explore those worlds myself.
Despite all the presents under our tree each year, I think many kids have a significant dearth of experience. Most kids’ lives are overscheduled. They are chauffeured from one activity to the next. They seldom have to deal with what to do in their downtime. There is a real loss of a valuable skill if we never develop our imaginations. So I may have to risk taking a hit to my popularity rating among young voters in my home this December, but I will be giving my kids a special gift this year, the gift of boredom.
Todd Tuell is a work-from-home freelance writer and father of three. His joy is in watching his kids (way better than TV) and in writing fiction for children and teens. He seeks (and occasionally finds) rare moments of peace and clarity at the bottom of a coffee cup (first thing in the morning), in distance running (never first thing in the morning) and with the perfect ending to a novel (late-late at night).
photo courtesy of AMERICANVIRUS / Jonas Seaman