Our second lot of school holidays this year have almost finished. Youngest Son heads back on Monday, Eldest Son & Middle Son return the following day. Dare I say, they can't really complain about being 'bored' these holidays. We've headed to mini golf, a movie or two and an indoor trampolining place. They've visited friends and had friends visit them. We've been to the local park a number of times where we've played football and frisbee. Youngest Son spent a day with a friend in a holiday camp building Lego and swimming in the indoor heated pool. We've eaten out, spent very little time in shopping centres (something they dislike, unless they're buying something for themselves!) and played a heap of video games on the wet, cold days. I played an intense game of Junior Trivial Pursuit with Middle Son (and lost - ahem), and a number of games of Connect Four with the other boys. They've played board games with each other. They have, in my opinion, been kept sufficiently amused.
And yet, here we are on Friday, and they're asking if we can do something 'special' today. *sigh*
Kids really don't know how to entertain themselves these days. Back in my day (I know - I'm sounding just like an actual parent now), boredom was part and parcel of school holidays. I recall many times complaining of being 'so bored!' and yet my mother didn't haul me off to such venues mentioned above (in actual fact, she didn't even have a driver's licence), rather she suggested I 'play this' or 'play that' and in the end, it was up to me to amuse myself.
And guess what? I did. I read books, I wrote stories, I played many, many games of solitaire (with actual playing cards, of course). I had one electronic gaming device: a Nintendo Game & Watch (remember Parachute?), and believe me, although it was addictive catching all those parachutes in a boat as they fell from a helicopter, it was a just little repetitive after a while. I played with my dolls, I played 'schools' - pretending to teach my imaginary class of students about a made up island, drawn on my chalkboard. I set up a 'shop' in my cubby house, selling mud pies out of the window to imaginary customers. (Perhaps the imaginary parents of the imaginary students?)
I didn't even have siblings around to amuse me; being twenty-one years apart in age, my sister was well and truly out of the home before I was even born. I did, however, sometimes have her kids - my niece and nephew (my age) - come over for a few days to both relieve my sister during school holidays so she could work and provide entertainment for me. And together, we played all those imaginative games together (and partook in some very noisy sessions playing Hungry Hippos, from memory).
I think it's really important to be bored. I was bored so often as a kid, it taught me how to amuse myself and as a consequence, I've always been very comfortable spending time alone. In fact, I crave alone time, and I'm very capable of finding ways to keep myself entertained.
So, even though my boys get to do a helluva lot more than I ever did on school holidays, there are days (like today) I instruct them to amuse themselves, and if they tell me they're bored, I advise them I'll find them something to do. Like, say, empty the dishwasher or pick up the dog poo or replace all the toilet paper in the bathrooms or colour-code the Lego. They soon realise they can probably find something else to do that's a little more appealing than that.
Being bored, I say, is a great life lesson.