It’s the Easter holidays and we actually have nice weather (for now!), the kids are off so no double-parked mums outside the schools to weave around, and the roads are quieter, if you keep away from the motorways etc!
With the sun out the Brits have turned back into smiling, take your time and enjoy life people, who hold open gates and are happy to escape the four walled existence which we have all been used to for the last six months. It’s great, isn’t it?
However, in a fifteen minute walk at lunchtime the other day, I encountered several tots that had ran away giggling from screaming mothers, (thankfully neither hurt) and two boys who thought bashing the plastic newspaper stand with sticks was a good idea. The reason of course is simple; “I’m bored!”
It seems I cannot walk down a street, enter a shop, catch public transport without hearing; “I’m bored.” This is a word I would happily see forcefully removed from the English dictionary, no, I mean it, really. There are two reasons I feel this way. The first is the fact that kids and teenagers only say this when someone else is around, the implication being that they want that person to amuse them. It’s become an expectation, an entitlement, the norm. The other is, why are you bored? Never have we had more things to keep us occupied, and yet it comes down to “I’m bored.”
If we had an extra 4 hours in the day, (hopefully not working hours!) there are so many ways I would fill them! Sitting on a sofa (or sun lounger!) lost in a great book, listening to music, seeing friends. Hell, even sleeping would be better than saying; “I’m bored!”
It tells me a lot about a person who says this, and I’m sorry, but it ain’t positive. My mother used to say to me “Only boring people get bored.” Generally I’ve found she is right. Perhaps it’s because I’m an only child but I don’t do bored. I never have. I maybe have one day a year when I don’t know what to do with myself. There are many options and I spend so long working out which one is right that the time goes, and the pondering becomes pointless.
As a child I was always off making games with my toys. When you’re an only child you don’t have a brother or sister, or a house load of their friends to entertain you, so you do it yourself. I also spent most of my childhood writing. I certainly would not change that!
But now when I see kids or teenagers say they’re bored I wonder why. They have all these other distractions to fill their time. Even just in the street for example, on a typical smartphone they can surf, use social media, take selfies, play games, listen to music, and still they’re bored. I said what my mother said to an acquaintance a while ago. “Oh I know,” she said. “My mother used to say the same to me. My daughter is never bored.” Minutes later her daughter came through the door. “Mummy I’m bored!” she whined. I looked at the mother but interestingly there was not a flicker of recognition about our last conversation!
Similiary if asked most kids will tell you how many days they have left until the school holidays. “Only two to go,” they will tell you with a sigh. Yet, when the holidays come, by day two they are bored. They get a lie in, no school or homework, can spend the day hanging out with their friends, but instead the ‘B’ word is in regular use. Suddenly they can’t wait to go back to school. I will add I never felt like this. Every moment of my school holidays was precious to me, and I only wish as an adult I didn’t have to get so excited at having two days off for Easter as the kids do for 2 weeks!
I’ve been thinking this over and I wonder if this is our fault, the adults I mean. It’s not enough that kids go to school, have homework to complete, a few playdates a week, we also cram in extra study time. Lee is only on a B+ for his English work, that’s fine, Monday night is extra English, book him in! Amelia’s struggling with her Math. No problem, Friday is extra Math, keep her in school! It means we get to pretend we are child-free for a few more hours and can catch up with work, safe in the knowledge we are enhancing their education. Win, win, right? Or is it? We have now got to the stage when we fill every second of our children’s time with activity. It’s got so bad we wonder why they take an age to get to sleep (hard wired on LCD screens and excessive activity usually!)
It means now if even thirty minutes pass without activity they are slouching around overusing the ‘B’ word and we are honour-bound to not just find something for them to do, but something productive because that’s what we are expected to do. I knew a mother who was approached by another mother at the school gates. “What do you do with your daughter on the drive into school?” this other mother asked. “Oh usually sing along to Michael Jackson or ABBA or whatever on the car radio,” she replied. “I quiz my daughter on her timestables! Look I have a folder!” Out came this huge lever arch! Hang on a minute; you’re driving, how is this even safe?!
So maybe we need to tone this down, maybe we need to let our children have some down-time when the homework is done and they can be allowed to choose what they want to do. Maybe we shouldn’t always pander to them the second they inform us they are bored. After all bored kids become bored adults!
Happy Easter everyone!