The school year is winding down and I can already hear the rumblings of the most popular whine that emits from tweens everywhere: “Moooommm, I’m soooo borrrred!” In my house it typically arrives about the third or fourth day of summer vacation. I think to myself, “Are you kidding? I’d give my pinkie toe to have the kind of free time you have. And I’m quite partial to that particular toe.” Sometimes I wish I could pull the ol’ Jodie Foster/Freaky Friday trick. After spending a day in my shoes, MJ would be begging for some good old-fashioned boredom.
So what’s a parent to do? Do we fill up their summer schedules (and empty our wallets) with every conceivable summer camp there is, and trust me there’s one for everything, yes, even glass-blowing. Do we drop to our knees in horror and exclaim “Oh! You’re bored? Well, quick, we must remedy this situation immediately. What do you say, amusement park? Zoo? Bungee jumping?”
No, I think a little boredom is healthy. Needed. It helps develop initiation so they can discover what their true interests are. As parents we are so afraid that we’re going to miss our children’s true calling. That while we have them enrolled in piano and soccer and swimming, they’re really the next Tiger Woods and we should have been doing golf all along. Doh! We need to relax and grab some of that boredom for ourselves. If they have a passion for something, it will come out and that passion will lead to determination and success. Let the kids take the reigns in what they want to do with their free time—yes, with some guidance, of course. I’m not saying you should let little Timmy play Mario Kart all day because he says he wants to be the next Mario Andretti. But when they complain of boredom, empathize, of course, but then allow them to come up with a solution on their own. Because really, if your kids are anything like mine, all your suggestions to combat boredom will just be met with an eye roll, like our boredom-busting ideas are sooo lame. Hey, if all else fails just go rent Freaky Friday.