Let them be bored.
A couple of months back I wrote a post on "Raising them Wild" and today, I'm talking all about "raising them bored." It probably sounds a bit strange since the word "bored" has such a negative connotation but I believe learning to be bored is absolutely imperative to any child's development (and any adult's too, for that matter)and here is why...
I haven't set an alarm in longer than I can remember but Monday was a whole different ball game. It was Parks & Rec sign up day and I officially became that crazy parent who has to be first in line.
Yep, it's official. I'm "that mom" now.
You see, over the summer it was impossible to find any classes for kids Ava's age and I love getting her out and about. I want her to get exercise, I want her to learn to socialize, I want her to discover the sports and activities she's passionate about from early on so she can excel in whatever she chooses to do and most of all, I just want her to have fun! Because that's what childhood is all about, right?
So at the start of summer I went to look for classes and there was literally nothing for her age. Nada, zip, zero, nothing. Nothing at all. (I lied, there was one class we signed up for but she was at the max of the age group and it just totally wasn't her thing so we only went once and never went back). So when fall registration day rolled around, you better bet I was prepped and ready.
I'm talkin' class schedules outlined on a Word document, class codes written down for quick access to sign ups and an alarm set for 6:00am. I woke up, grabbed my laptop from my nightstand and quickly snagged all of the sports and classes that were age appropriate for Ava and within minutes, our fall schedule was dialed in.
Gymnastics on Tuesdays, dance/song class on Wednesdays, Ballet on Thursdays and soccer on Fridays. Our fall schedule is set!
You'd better believe I was pretty stoked to be first in line to snag all of the classes I wanted and better yet, I even got first dibs on the days and times I wanted so we could fit it all in. I closed my laptop, placed it back on the nightstand to cozy back up in bed and then it dawned on me...
When will Ava have time to be bored? I mean, we've got Mondays open but that's all. Of course I want her to be active and involved and to make friends and to discover all of the fun things she wants to do with her childhood but amidst all of that running around and excitement, Ava needs to learn to be bored.
Every generation becomes more and more filled with instantaneous greed. I mean, Ava starts crying within the 5 seconds of waiting to skip an advertisement on YouTube before we can get back to her little shows and then there's me sounding just like my parents did. "Back in my day when internet was just becoming a household thing, we had to wait for dial up to get us connected to the internet and believe it or not, we couldn't use the phone at the same time unless Line 2 of our corded home phone was available." Remember those days?
It's crazy and amazing and just totally neat how far the world has come since my middle school years of dial up and AIM but let me tell you, I learned boredom and I learned patience. (I'm sure my parents would disagree but compared to kids these days, I sure knew patience well). And those are two things at the top of my list for teaching Ava in her life.
Lines have been replaced with self-service machines, with the click of a button we can order and pay for our Starbucks so that we don't have to wait in line or wait for it to be made when we get there, in just seconds we can pretty much find out anything we need to know in life with this crazy thing we call Google and guess what? During long road trips and flights, we have endless games and movies and shows we can take with us rather than spending 8 hours playing make believe with a single Barbie or (I'll say it), socializing.
I want Ava to learn the power of boredom. I want her to understand patience. I want her to let her imagination run wild as her dolls go on adventures for hours instead of letting a kids show think and create imagination for her.
I want her to be bored.
While I'm happy with my decision to get Ava involved in lots of sports and activities at such an early age (because let's be real, she sleeps much better and longer at night when she's got a scheduled activity that day) but along with all of that running around, I need to also make time for boredom.
It far easier said than done in this world full of instant gratification but I think that if we can teach our kids to just sit, relax and enjoy the view that they'll be able to use their imaginations to become smarter, wiser, to dream up their futures and they'll learn to be happier with the little things in life -- the sun shining, the birds chirping and even the gratifying sound of pure silence.
Let's make time for boredom and let's teach our kids that silence and relaxation and those little things that brilliant minds have invented are just the extras. But the beauty in the world and being present is what's most important. Let's live colorfully, live bored, live free.