Ah, those three little words. Three little words that illicit such emotion. Words that have the ability to evoke a physical response, including an increase in blood pressure; perhaps a palpitation in the chest.
Parents know them well. They can count on hearing them from their offspring on a regular basis.
"I am bored."
I just don't get it. Kids these days have so much. My home is overrun with various types of electronics and video games, expensive and massive Legos sets, and every other toy under the sun. The garage is filled with balls, bikes, skateboards and two different kinds of scooters. Frankly, I should never hear those words.
So when the words are uttered, I look at my children in disbelief. Impossible, I tell them.
When I was young, we didn't need our parents or massive amounts of expensive possessions to entertain us. We made our own entertainment. We played outside all of the time and we did so with one bike, one skateboard and some sports equipment. We got together with other neighborhood kids and played pick-up games of football and baseball. We managed to turn every activity into a competition. We also walked the wooded trails and built forts by clearing brush and adding found furniture. And we were entertained until dusk when our parents would have to drag us inside.
If we were stuck inside due to the weather, we didn't have computers or Facebook or cell phones. We played table football with a folded piece of paper and our fingers forming a goal post; we watched the lone TV in the house; and the only video games we knew were Atari and Pong - so basic in those days that I think we had more fun playing table football.
The only time I recall telling my mother I was bored was when we were visiting ancient relatives where there were no kids or games in sight and the candy dishes were filled with Rolaids.
Today when we visit ancient relatives, kids can bring their hand-held entertainment: cell phones, video games and iPods. And no more do we play travel games during long car rides thanks to said portable electronics. Yet kids still manage to ask the question over and over: "Are we there yet?"
I am on vacation from work this week. Just like on weekends, I fully expected to hear the question daily: "What are we going to do today?" So far, they haven't let me down.
Do your chores and go out and play, I told them. Then when I'm feeling a tad guilty for not "doing something" with the kids, I offer up a trip to the beach or pool. "Nah, we don't want to do that." Then my son suggests a trip to Kmart so he can use his chore money to buy that toy guy that he wants so badly, the same one he looked for when we were shopping for back-to-school supplies. "They probably re-stocked it," he predicted. Good grief. Nope, no toy gun shopping on our list of things to do today. Go play with one of the other 50 toy guns you have.
During my daughter's recent recovery from a concussion, the complaint of boredom has been regular and understandable considering that all activity is out the window. But in an effort to curb the computer and television use, I suggested painting, drawing, reading and scrapbooking. My daughter has never been much of a reader. I have tried to convince her that reading is not just for school, but it can be for pleasure, too. How excited I was when she read a book cover-to-cover. I also suggested that she take those vacation pics from two years ago and put them in an album. The result was a beautiful scrapbook filled with great memories.
It's official. I have decided that there is no reason for those words to be uttered in my house. From now on I will charge my kids a quarter every time they say it. And I will use the money I will inevitably earn to buy myself a new book to read while lounging on my hammock.