My daughters are five and seven years old. And like anything that was one once fresh and new and then ages [Wine. Newspapers. Underwear.] my kids aren’t the same as they used to be.
Oh, they still act like babies once in a while. And by “once in a while” I mean every time they have to share something with each other. At those times, they revert to infants crying at levels that could shatter windows as well as my nerves.
But they have changed in ways, too. And one way is in how quickly they can get bored.
Be a parent long enough, and your kids will learn to become bored with whatever it is they have around. A cardboard box, once all they needed for creating, say, a car or a house, will be completely ignored. The four thousand Legos that were just being used to construct the City Of The Future [and which often found their way under your bare feet] are now stored away and, like a ne’er-do-well uncle who only shows up at Thanksgiving to borrow money and raid dad’s booze, are rarely, if ever mentioned. You have more books than the Library of Congress, and yet, your daughter has “nothing to read.”
And then, soon enough, comes that refrain spoken by every kid who has ever lived [including me], and which has scarred the eardrums of every parent from Adam and Eve to me and my wife, The Thoroughly Awesome Ms. Crums:
“I’M SOOOOOOOO BORRRRRRRRRRED!”
Well, what do you do in this situation?
For us, and this is partly because we live on a windy street with no sidewalks and we don’t have a yard [but do have a deck that is enclosed, but still about 20 feet above the ground in back] we can’t easily let them go and play outside. Plus, our kids are crazy enough that there’s at least a 60% chance they would be magnetically drawn directly into the road.
Both kids like doing art, and we provide them with enough crayons, pens, pencils, markers, paint, Play-Doh, glue, stickers, glitter, paper…you name it…to turn all our living room walls into the Louvre, if they so chose. But, even with an art supply store’s volume of creating products at their disposal, all too often, a version of the following conversation occurs…
Maddo: DAAAAAAAADDDDDYYYYY! I’M BORRRRRRRRED!
Me: Well, why don’t you work on a picture for Mam Maw?
Me: Come on, you like to do art!
Maddo: Can’t I have the iPad?
Me: No, not right now.
Maddo: Can I watch TV?
Me: No. I want you to do something else.
Maddo: UGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH! THERE’S NOTHING TO DO!
Me [Looking at the approximately 4,000 books they have]: Why don’t you read a book?
Maddo: I don’t know HOW to read to myself!
Me: But…you know how to read.
Maddo: Yeah, but I NEED someone to read to!
Me: You know, you can read without reading out loud, right?
Maddo: Can’t you just let me have the iPad?
At this point, Little Sis will then chime in.
Little Sis: Daddy? I’ll draw you a picture!
Me: Thank you, sweetie. That would be nice!
Little Sis: But first…Can I play a game on Disney Junior on the iPad?
Oh yeah, her cute exterior hides the heart of con artist.
I guess these kids don’t get it…Having nothing to do is a gift. They have no idea of how badly I would love it if I could just come home, sit down, and do nothing stare at the wall. That’s how low my bar is set. This is what happens when you have an all-hands-on-deck-from-the-moment-you-get home-until-you-turn-out-the-light-and-pass-out-before-you-get-through-one-paragraph-of-the-book-you-have-been-trying-to-finish-for-a-year lifestyle. When you’re always on the edge of exhaustion, you don’t want to do a thing. And you dream of being bored.
But my kids have a few years to go before they get to that point. For now, they hate boredom. They just need to realize how many things they have to alleviate that feeling.
Especially since I need that iPad to binge watch the latest season of “Orange Is The New Black” while at the same time catching up on Showtime’s “Shameless” on my 50-inch flat screen TV. Hey, it’s not like I just stare at the wall every night.