Letting them wander in the desert of boredom


Boredom built this.

This conversation took place in our house yesterday:

Son to me, wandering aimlessly around the house: I’m bored.   What can I do?

Me, in the middle of doing housework: How about cleaning your room?

Son:  I don’t want to.  What else can I do?

Me: Sorry.  That was my only suggestion.

It’s not even summer vacation yet, and already I’m starting to hear it.  I’m bored.  I don’t know what to do. Tell me something to do. 

But I’m finding that these words don’t have the power they once had.  This is because I’ve learned that I’m not responsible for solving my sons’ boredom for them.

Sure, some  part of me still wants to drop whatever I’m doing and come up with some very elaborate, crafty, Pinterst-worthy Mom-of-the-Year kind of activity  to engage him.  But I’m resisting, because I have learned that when it comes to my kids, boredom is not a bad thing.  It’s actually a good thing, because it’s the fertile soil out of which intense creativity begins to grow.

When my kids are bored, forts appear  in the living room.  Bunk beds turn into rocket ships.  Halloween costumes come out of hiding.  Miniature cities and highways are built with construction paper, crayons and tape.  Elaborate pictures are drawn, epic battles of multi-eyed space aliens and dashing superheroes.   If I wait it out, the plaintive statements of boredom morph into the sounds of two little boys who are utterly engaged in their imaginative play … and that’s music to my ears.

That’s not to say that I never throw them a bone and give them something fun to do.  But I’ve found that if I leave them to their own devices and let them wander in the desert for a bit — even with some grumbling along the way - they eventually manage to lead themselves to the land of milk and honey and a heckuva lot of fun.

(For more thoughts on boredom, especially as it relates to time in the car, check out Why I Want My Kids to Be Bored.)

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