As summer progresses, some of your children temporarily unoccupied by arts and crafts camps, drama experiences, nature field trips, organized sports, theme parks or other engaging experiences, may have uttered those dreaded words.
If you haven’t experienced this declaration from your child or grandchild, you’re exceedingly lucky. I’ll tell you, it pains the heart. Here you are trying to find stimulation for your child(ren) beyond insipid TV and violent video games by researching the local and nearby activities, cross-referencing budgets, timing of events, carpooling options, supervision, whether friends will also participate and so on; the details are endless. By the time you’ve worked out all the schedules, your patience is sorely tested, but you think you’ve created the best summer enrichment ever. And a few days into the activities comes the dagger to the heart, “I’m bored.”
You may be like me and have to count to 10, twice, before finding a rational response. Actually, I counted three times. The counting was probably reciprocal to the energy I had devoted to summer enrichment planning. Here’s what happened after those dreaded words from my child.
Deep breath. Release. I spoke calmly, “How can you solve this problem?”
Shocked silence. I tried again. “When you say, ‘I’m bored,’ you need to find ways that you will not be bored.”
Eyes wide now, a brief, “Huh?”
“Try making a list of interesting things to do, maybe things you haven’t done lately, and decide which you’ll do first, second and so on. You can be in charge of your activities, not me.”
I could see understanding was coming. “You mean it’s up to me to stop being bored?”
“Yes, you are perfectly capable of doing that, get to it!” And he wandered off to begin his list while I crossed my fingers and toes.
Here’s his list:
do a puzzel, play a game with frend, read a book, play with bubells, find bugs, draw pikchures, rite a storey, clime trees, ride bike, make foil crechures, cownt my monee, bild a fort, mak up math probs to solv, play with legos, trucks and cars, call a frend, plant things, bak cookys, go to librarie.
I was surprised by the list he created and we high-fived his effort. He wanted to know if he could keep it for the next time he was bored.
(Hmmm, let me think.) “That’s a great idea!” I said. We, as parents, assume that we have to do it all, but look what happens when we give up control and give the kids the reins.
Breathing better now.
Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!