Cure for boredom is the imagination
“Bored? I can find you something to do.”
This was Dad. He had a great way of curing boredom. He’d find fun things for us to do – such as cleaning the pool or picking up dog poop.
Years may go by, but some things never will change. We’ve heard it before from the kids – there’s nothing to do in this town – when we know it’s just not true.
Not even going into the numerous fun activities at the South Shore, there’s always something needing to be done. It’s also curious how boredom has to be replaced with something fun, and how we feel it’s the responsibility of someone else to keep our children entertained.
If we choose to look around and see the pile of laundry, the unraked yard or a driveway full of snow and then voluntarily ignore it, this isn’t boredom. It’s laziness. If the bike or cross-country skis are sitting in the garage unused, or there’s a friend you can visit and choose not to, you’re creating your own boredom.
“Boredom comes from a boring mind,” is a lyric from a Metallica song.
Money and time are not issues with a creative mind. Sometimes we spend so much time keeping our children busy that we cheat them of their own imagination and creativity. In this age of iPods, television and video games, idle time seems to be disappearing. Do we really need DVDs in our cars?
Try this instead: Look out the window and daydream. If that gets old, converse with someone.
Do we have to be constantly in touch via cell phone? No. Try a personal visit instead.
Do we need everything on demand immediately? No. Patience is learned, and if we constantly try to fill our time, we’ll never achieve it.
We look to eliminate boredom when we should instead embrace it. We’re afraid of the periodic negative consequences that result. We think that a horrible combination for children is when they have too much time and money and lack purpose. But by trying to save them, we’ll sign them up for classes and sports, and then we’ll let them spend too much time in front of the TV and computer.
We think: “It’s not my job to entertain you. But I can find you something to do.”
This is another great Dad-ism.
That’s why I sometimes think instead of keeping our children constantly busy, we should sometimes allow them to be bored. It can help them identify their strengths and weaknesses.
Downtime can allow children to think and stimulate their imaginations. Children with time to think will make up their own games, act out their own play or let their imaginations turn into something positive.
“Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth comes to the top,” said playwright Virginia Woolf.
If you think boredom leads to destructive, anti-social behavior, think again. There’s likely more going on with your child than you would think. Plopping your child in front of the TV or computer isn’t a cure for boredom – it’s a parent being lazy.
So the next time your children say, “There’s nothing to do,” use my dad’s line, and you’ll find out how quickly they can find something.
– Dan Thrift is a photographer for the Tribune.