The Benefit of Boredom

Dawn Michaelfriendship, Screen Time, self careLeave a Comment

My daughter asked if she could have a friend come over after camp and sleep at our house for the night.  Sure!  Having another child over would encourage hours of wondrous play for my two girls.  Memories of my childhood sleepovers came to mind-staying up late, french braiding each other’s hair, and dancing and singing into an imaginary microphone.  They were in for a fun night!

After camp, we drove home.  The girls whispered and giggled while the radio drowned out their conversation.  We were almost home when I got the question, “Mom, what are we going to do tonight?”  I had already offered to take them to a movie, either in the theatre or the drive-in.  Both options were shot down as Jurasic World wasn’t something they wanted to see.  There were no other age appropriate movies that we could agree on seeing.  The idea of a drive-in didn’t appeal either as they couldn’t understand the concept of being able to see the movie screen with cars parked in front of you.

One daughter suggested staying home and watching Dance Moms.  “No, that’s child abuse,” responded the friend.  Lighten up kid, my girls like to watch the dancers.  It’s reality tv- exaggerated behavior, but not to be taken too seriously.  I suggested we browse the bookstore and get Del’s lemonade- blank stares.  After numerous other ideas were shot down, the girls retreated to their bedroom.

My youngest daughter decided she would like to go to the bookstore.  I left the other two home with my husband.  While browsing through the latest “Books that make you think,”  I received a text from home-“We’re bored and have nothing to do and this is getting awkward.  I can’t even start a conversation with her.”  Really?!!  Is my job as a parent to leave a play curriculum?  Isn’t having a friend over enough?  It wasn’t like she was being forced to hang out with kids in the neighborhood who simply lived close by to us.  This was someone she elected to come to our house.  One would think she had chosen someone with similar interests.  Was it my job to screen potential friends?  Was I going to fill the role of play coordinator extraordinaire?  They weren’t little kids anymore.  I wasn’t up for the challenge.

I thought back to my own childhood where we played crazy eights,Monopoly, and tennis in the circle.   We didn’t have electronic stimulation where we checked Instagram, Snap Chat, and Facebook incessantly.  We had downtime, but we didn’t complain because we’d be threatened with the friend being sent home or worse, chores!  Being bored is a necessary part of life.  It helps us to grow as we now have time for creativity.  Daydreams offer us a place to go, sort of like a childhood meditation.  As a parent, I want my children to hang out in a state of boredom from time to time.  They need to learn how to suffer in silence.  They can’t be entertained every waking moment.  Boredom can teach them to be patient and grateful, qualities they’ll need to thrive as healthy creative adults.

I glanced back at the text, “We’re bored.”  Confidently, I closed the app, put my phone back in my bag and sat down at a cafe table with a green tea and a copy of Shambala Sun.  Om!

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