The sun announces its arrival a little too early. Although the blinds are shut, there is enough light to allow several rays of morning into our room. It’s only 5:45 a.m., but the day begins even if I am not always ready. My daughter’s never embraced sleeping in. Her footsteps will soon greet me. Breakfast, brushing teeth, bathing, and the question of the day, “What are we going to do today Momma?” happens in quick succession.
Summer break is here and trying to answer this question is always a challenge. I’ve grappled with the answer. As a little girl growing up in the suburbs of Texas, I didn’t attend summer camps or have a playdate scheduled everyday of the week. Because I was an only child for almost 9 years, I learned to play on my own. Part of playing included simple pursuits, like riding my bike down the street, skipping rocks at the local creek, and hanging out with neighborhood friends in the front yard. Other parts of my summer were filled with trips to the library where I checked out several books at once. I spent time in one particular corner of the couch so often, I can still recall the pattern on the sofa fabric.
My mom and dad were not shuffling me from one place to another in order to keep me entertained during the summer. And yes, like most kids, there were long stretches of time where the phrase, “I am so bored” kept coming up. A few days ago, my daughter uttered the same phrase, “I am bored Momma.” I found it a little odd that she would say this, especially because her weekend was full of activities: a swimming party, a playdate, and a dinner outing. It irritated me when she said this, partially because I saw it as a shortcoming on my part, but then as I pondered her statement, I thought, What’s wrong with boredom? I told my daughter, “It’s ok to be bored.”
Part of appreciating time is knowing its there. Our society perpetuates this myth that overcommitting ourselves and saying yes to everything and everyone is somehow the perfect antidote to happiness. I am not exempt from buying into this myth. I spent years not allowing myself to be “bored.” Filling my time with self-created errands and commitments that weren’t really fulfilling, I saw much of my time evaporate, questioning what I had really accomplished.
A few days ago, my daughter and I spent the evening being bored. And this is what it looked like: we spent an hour reading together side by side, we cooked dinner together as she asked me about a new word she read in her book, and we played shadow puppets in the dark with the flashlight. I felt the gravity of time in our interaction and the purity in our spending our evening together. We were not driving around or stimulating her with television or other people or things, but allowing time to take over enough to truly appreciate it.
I want to come live at your house. This is so juicy. Thank you so very much for your honesty about boredom which is a holy occupation in my book. You have spoken to something that haunted me this very day and I worried about my daughter. Now, reading these words, I feel calmed.
Oh, do I dread the “b” word–thanks for such a positive and warm take on the issue!
I always say that boredom is simply a lack of imagination. That usually turns the whining around in our house. Somehow the word imagination reminds them of all the things they could be doing (like writing a story, drawing, playing school, etc.) other than playing video games or watching TV.
Those down nights, the ones where we haven’t filled our schedule to the brim, are wonderful nights to reconnect. Thanks for the reminder.
Boredom is the place from which creativity emerges; it gives the imagination just what it needs to come to life…time and stillness.
Amen and amen. I have often commented to this to my kids and even my husband. He cannot hear.
I agree with the commenter above. Continual entertainment prevents real thinking.
Creativity comes out of boredom. Nobody ever gets an amazing idea while rushing around from one thing to another thing.
Kids, summer, and the “Mom, I’m bored” call of the wild!
Around our house, there was a little of that but not too much… always something to do / play / make / invent / mess up… thanks to the imagination (and a refusal to overfill their summer days).
I think learning to be with ourselves and also relying on our imagination are both essential. And those moments of truly doing nothing? That’s sanity! And very pleasurable.
“It’s ok to be bored.” Brilliant!
My childhood days were spent much in the same way as you described. And I wanted my children to have that sort of freedom of childhood, along with the boredom it sometimes brings. It allows time for: imagination, for creativity, for learning new things, for spending time with mom, and for slowing down (a good thing to learn).
Lovely post 🙂
It’s funny how much we miss rushing around isn’t it? Love the idea of accepting the slow pace and soaking it up! Great post 🙂
Oh, I love the ways you embraced down time together.
One of my favorite things in the world is when my son and I get to have a day, afternoon or evening to ourselves. Once we’re squared away on food, we let other things unfold. There’s plenty of spontaneous play when we’re together. But there’s also time when we can be in a room together while I read and he builds quadrilla or some such structure until one or the other throws out an idea and then we move on to the next. It’s great when you can let agenda fall by the wayside.
Perhaps “bored” is the uncomfortable feeling of emptiness and bliss is the comfortable feeling of emptiness? Maybe parenting is the bridge we cross made out of both. Here’s to doing nothing much really well, the shivasana of any languid afternoon. Namaste
I love that you found happiness in your down time together. One of my favorite things is when Daniel and I read side by side and he makes conversation about the story or little details that he remembers from his day. Precious moments indeed 🙂
I so often have the annoyed reaction first too–but rarely do I come back with the graceful comment that you did.
It’s true–boredom is a gift. Sometimes I’m thankful I rarely have time to get bored as a mom, but your comment made me realize that no boredom is the flip side of not having enough time to myself. I know the time will come back, but I think I will always find it precious, now, because I’ve done without it.
I dread the “b” word too and I get worried whenever I hear it that our son has gotten caught up in this generation’s frenetic need to be programmed…of course, we as adults just have ourselves to blame. Like you, too, I wasn’t shuttled around from activity to activity growing up…my parents were too busy to bother with us, and my brother and I were left to entertain ourselves sans arranged playdates, summer camps, lessons…though, I think that kids can come through on their own. Sometimes I just allow my son to be “bored,” without coming to his rescue with ideas or activities, and I find that in time he will have discovered something creative and fun to do.
I totally agree! Kids are so overscheduled. They need some space and time to develop creativity! Thanks for stopping by to make my SITS day so fun!
I love this so much especially b/c my kids are done next week. I am terrible at being bored…but I shouldn’t be. There’s nothing wrong with it and we should embrace it. As always, I find myself directed towards something more peaceful after reading your blog.