Friday, June 10, 2011

Oh yeah? Well, when I was your age...

My 11 year old son is bored.

"There's nothing to do", he wails, drawing out the "o" until he's completely out of breath, stretching and kvetching simultaneously. It's 8pm on a warm, summer night. He returned just a few hours ago from four days at our lake house, riding horses, kayaking, swimming, and fishing. Now he's bored.

I can't help it. It frustrates me. "Jack," I say, ordering myself to speak in a conversational tone, "we've got a basketball hoop, ping pong, PS3, a computer..." "I know mom!" he sounds as exasperated as I feel, "I don't feel like any of those things. I want to do something!" (How is it that these things don't constitute doing?) He proceeds to use the family room couch as a gymnastics mat, a trampoline, a...anything other than a device for sitting.

And then it happens. My mouth opens, and before I can stop myself, I become my mother.

"Do you know when I was your age we weren't even allowed to sit inside on a summer day? We spent the whole day outside! From morning until the street lamps came on at night!" Do I stop there? Oh no, I have to make my point! "The only kids' shows on tv were a couple of cartoons (albeit really great cartoons), and they were only on Saturday mornings! Between 8 and 10am! You have got it good, my friend. I wish I'd had what you've got!"

Jack's eyes roll to the back of his head. He gives me the look I used to give my mom when she'd tell me how hard her childhood had been. How they didn't have toys, and they had to play dolls with plastic soap bottles, or some such nonsense.

"Hey Jack," his older brother calls from across the room, "wanna play basketball?" Jack jumps off the couch and races to the garage door. Not nearly as much from an immediate desire for the game, I realize, as an immediate desire to end our one-sided conversation.

My mom was a teacher. So not only did this mean that she always (except for once, when I was in the fourth grade) took the teacher's side, but she was also off during the summers. I have great memories of trips to the public library, reading lists, lounging at the pool. But I'm sure, she thought of this as not only my summer break, but hers, too. And she would probably have liked a day or two to herself. Because as wonderful as my memories might be, I'm quite sure I belted out a few "I'm bored!"'s myself (wait till she reads this, I can just hear the comments!).

But I son wore himself out playing basketball and slept soundly until about 8 o'clock this morning when I heard "Mom?" (here it comes), "what are we doing today?"

There remain nine, long weeks of summer. What are your kids doing to beat the boredom?


  1. We also walked five miles to school, the snow and ate all of our dinner because children were starving...somewhere. Puh-leeze! Soap bottle are kidding right? And...teachers are NEVER "off" during the summer...they are always working and learning!

    Okay...I think I covered everything. Now...about bored children...may the force be with you:)

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