Thursday, July 5, 2012

The "B" Word.

When I was teaching 7th and 8th grade history there was always this little behavior of my middle school students that I didn't understand.  I of many.  It would be a test day, and most of my tests would take a good portion of the hour.  Finishing early probably meant they had ten or fifteen minutes left in the hour.  I always had small tasks for them to work on that would introduce them to the next unit of study.  One or two kids per hour would whip through those too--I'm sure they were done well and of high quality.  And then they'd trek up to my desk with..........all of five minutes left before class was over, stare at me and say, "I'm all done with everything.  What should I do now?"

You can't figure out something to do for five minutes?  You can't write a note to a friend (you're an 8th grader right?), sketch, read a book, put your head down and rest for a bit, do some homework from another class, peruse the amazing wall displays I worked so tirelessly on (I'm being serious here--they were pretty awesome), or

I didn't actually say those things like that.  I'd wrap them up in a sugary sweet smile with a kiss on top. Not true was generally somewhere in the middle.

But what I was always left thinking was, "Why is there this need to be constantly entertained?  Why can't kids appropriately occupy themselves with a random five minutes?  Fifteen minutes or even a half hour?

It's because of the B word.  And we've taught it to them.


I hear parents say things to their kids like, "Are you bored honey?  There's nothing to do is there?  "I'm sorry this is so boring."

And worse.......I hear parents say (in front of their kids), "I'm just so bored."

And like everything else, our kids adopt the mantras that we put out there.  Even the ones we don't want them to.

If I had any inside connections with the folks over at Webster's Dictionary I'd propose the word 'bored' be stricken from the dictionary.  No one should ever be bored.  Being bored is as much of a decision as not being bored.

Never being bored is one of the character qualities I want to instill in Georgia.  There is too much to do to be bored.

Like living room cooking shows.

Eating.  Always eating for Georgia.

Passing the time during a two hour wait at the car dealership.

Tap dancing in the kitchen.

Looking forward to watching the garbage men do their thing on Thursday mornings.

Making up names for the goldfish at the grocery store.

Or typing on my computer.

I don't believe parents should play the role of cruise director on the Lido deck leading water aerobics at noon followed up with macrame at two and sushi rolling at four, however, so our kids will never be bored.   We do not exist to provide our children one Disney World experience after another in the form of baking cookies, art projects, trips to the zoo, hours of one-on-one reading, and twenty four hours of face to face entertainment.  We exist to love our children and to train them how to be responsible, motivated, compassionate, and independent grown-ups......and please don't think I'm saying not to play with them......a lot.......either.  We have to do both--it's a balance like everything else.

And one of the ways we train them is we show them that there is no such thing as being bored.  There are days when I do laundry, some cleaning, I give Georgia a bath, I play with her, cook dinner, run a few errands, and pick up LaLaLoopsey dolls off the floor about twenty times.  There are also days when I get to lead a training at work, go shopping, have dinner with friends at my favorite restaurant, and post three or four pieces for Mom Colored Glasses or Pink Shoes.  I am equally happy on both days.

Are there activities I'd prefer to do over others?  Of course.  Are there some some tasks (like emptying the dishwasher, putting away groceries, or arguing with Georgia over trying to pee before we leave) I wish Mary Poppins would swoop in and take over?  Of course?  But it doesn't mean that because they're not my favorite I'm bored.  It just means they're not my favorite.

I want Georgia to be able to recognize the difference too.   That just because we're not running off to buy the entire toy department at Target it doesn't mean that........

playing with a random bucket of soap dressed up like Dorothy Gale isn't fun.

Or that backyard fairy gardens at Gaga and PopPops's can't fill a few hours.

And that mid-morning two hour baths aren't the best.

And just 'being'?  That's completely fine too.

I want her to be someone that can always find something to do, rearrange, create, read, make for someone else, write, snap a picture of, or just be still and calm and comfortable in herself.  But she has to watch me do those same things in order to learn how to do it.

Will you join me in striking bored from our vocabularies?  Will you join me in raising kids who know how to fill five minutes, ten minutes, thirty minutes with their own thoughts and ideas?

That pesky "B" gone!


  1. Analiese and I had a very similar discussion today. She has way too much stuff to do to be bored!

  2. I loved the paragraph about why parents exist! At the age your daughter is at (and mine) is the perfect age to teach them that there is always something to do.

    1. Thanks Jennifer! I sometimes just wish I had this exhaustive instruction manual that explains exactly how to do that. :) Right?

  3. Very cute post. Thank you for the reminder. I think I need to work on this with my little one. :)

  4. Great post! Thanks for the perspective!

  5. Cherith shared this with me, and I agree completely!
    Incidentally, I once read that there is no equivalent for the word "bored" in any pre-modern language. It is only in the modern age of "entertainment for all" that we've even been able to invent the concept of being bored.

    1. Love that Jeff! It makes total sense the prior to this insatiable need to always be entertained people wouldn't even have considered the idea of boredom.

  6. My kids were great at entertaining themselves when they were little. So imaginative. Now that they are 13-21 I occasionally hear them say they are bored. But not usually to me. If they tell me they are bored I will tell them to clean something. As soon as I mention cleaning, it's amazing how many things they can come up with to do.

    I'm with you. Boredom is forbidden!

    Stopping by from SITS.

    1. Great to have you Robin! "Boredom is forbidden" would be a good sign to hang in our houses!

  7. Wow I read this post at just the right time! I'm always worrying about whether I do enough with my 2-yo and if I should be doing more. This post made me feel better about that for the first time in awhile Thanks!

    I came from SITS, too.

    1. I always worry about that too Nell. It's this constant nagging voice in the back of my mind and thankfully I have other moms and my experiences as a teacher to fall back on and know that voice is a liar! : ) Glad to have you!

  8. the word doesn't exist at our house either..and, if it does slip out...we have an idea can or a job there is a complaint about the idea get to pull a job out of the job jar! :) which, at olivia's age...she LOVES to pick a job. great post maggie!!

  9. awesome. We fight happy/sad at my house...but we've never fought against boredom. We need it. Thanks for sharing.
    ♡ Jill

  10. A-to-the-MEN on the entire thing. My 11 year old is ALWAYS bored. Always. Even when he's playing a video game or has a friend over. Always bored. It drives me NUTS and I don't know how to stop it at this late stage in the game. The other two, however; are not always bored, and I Hope to teach them all the same things you are trying to teach Georgia.

  11. Love, love, LOVE this post. I am going to share a link on my blog. So true. Hearing people complain of boredome is my pet peeve!


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