Monday, January 19, 2015

Boredom Matters

"I'm borrrrrrrrred."

Even as an only child for the first 11 years of my life, being "bored" was not an option.  Obviously, I did actually experience boredom, but I wouldn't dare say as much to my mother.  That was a lesson well learned after I said that once, maybe twice, and was told that no, I wasn't bored because I could find something to do.

And I always did.  Find something to do.

(Here I insert the gentle disclaimer that this is not, in any way a techno-bashing post.  Far from it.  It is however, a pro less-techno-time commentary.)  (Did you get that?  That was weird language.) (Sorry about all the parentheses.) (That was the last set.  I promise. (Okay, well this set is. Scout's honor.))

Boredom was and continues to be the source of many creative endeavors.  (Some less desirable, I admit.  It's not all roses, people.  We know this.)  

Sadly, the art of being bored is a dying one.  People are being entertained at every turn.  Phones dominate as the go-to nothing-to-do object.  Waiting in line?  Take out your phone.  Waiting for someone in your car?  Phone.  Sitting at lunch alone?  Phone.  Pooping?  Phone.   Phone phone phone.

The same is true for our kids.  iPads and handhelds are all.  over.  the show.  
Out to dinner with kids?  iPad.  Downtime after school?  iPad.  Car trip?  iPad.  iPad iPad iPad.  

There is just no time to be bored, sitting aimlessly with yourself and not having anything to do or look at or think about.  No empty spaces between the sentences of our lives.  And I think it's costing us.  Obviously, I'm a mom and not a researcher.  I don't actually know the real result (if any) of being entertained from morning to night. 

But I do know what happens when my own kids are bored. 

They find something to do.  A thing they would not otherwise have sought.  A thing they may have thought seemed, itself, boring.  A thing that will reveal new things to themselves; sometimes even about themselves.  And sometimes not.  Sometimes it's just a way to pass the time that ends up being only a notch above complete boredom.  However, a thing to do it remains.

My son - like many sons before him, as well as sons that are happening now, and most definitely those to come - has an umbilical attachment to screen time.  If he's not on the desktop, he's on the iPad.  If he's not on the iPad, he's on the Wii.  If he's not on the Wii, he's on his iPod.  If he has no access to any of them - he becomes a pinball around our home.  Literally going from chair to chair, room to room, place to endless place with the zing and energy of a giant electron.  There is jumping and bouncing and singing and a wide and interesting range of potentially annoying behaviors.* 

And then, after he has practically broken his skull open he finds something to do.  Dust gets blown off games or puzzles.  Books get dragged off the shelf.  Toys often neglected come out and see the light of play.  Super hero characters are created.  Things.  Happen. 

Boredom matters.  It's a seed for creativity within the right environment.  (Mischief in the wrong one. Probably all you need is an adult to help ensure safety for it to be "right".)

Take some time for yourself, give some time to your kiddo.  Make space for boredom creative action.


* For the record and in the interest of sharing our managerial method both of my children each get one hour of recreational screen time (PC Games usually) each evening.  Two hours on the Saturdays and Sundays. 

They also have homeschooling screen time during the day for math (Khan and Timez Attack), science videos, second language, and geography.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy Wonderer

I am a happy wonderer.

And no, that's not a spelling mistake.
I really am.  I really do.  I wonder.  
I wonder why.
I wonder how.
I wonder if.

There is so much that needs to be wondered about.  And what that makes me is a very killed cat. 

Wonder, curiosity, and awe are the most fun lenses through which to view the world. It's how I live, and it's how my children have lived. 

The simple act of asking why has the potential to reveal so much.  I love that. 

Why is that?