Monday, October 4, 2010

the beauty of boredom

A few days ago, our local newspaper published an article about holiday activities in the area. The opening paragraph went something a bit like this:

"A whole week of holidays has gone by,

and now parents are looking to find new activities

to battle the boredom until school goes back."

Hmmmm. Interesting…!

It's interesting to me, because two pretty big assumptions are being made here.

1. That kids get bored on holidays (and don't get bored at school… ha)


2. That 'boredom' is something negative, something to deal with, battle, fight, and overcome.

I think I might just reject both of those assumptions! Because I can, and because I think there's a whole other way of looking at this.

For one, I think kids LOVE holidays, whether they are filled to the max or not. And for another, I think boredom can be wonderful. It's a brewspace for the mind, an arena for the Stupendous. It can make you lead, not follow. Boredom can make awesome things happen!

Really, newspaper people, it really can.

I remember looking forward to holidays. Like, really looking forward to them. Because I'd imagine the stack of books waiting for me, the long days of having nothing to do but read. I'd think of the nowhere I had to go or be, and all the playing that stretched out in the moments between waking and sleeping. I remember playing with my sister, playing by myself, making things, listening to music, climbing trees, finding little spaces in the garden and making imaginary homes, and reading reading reading. It was magical.

And I liked school, so it wasn't torture to go, but it wasn't torture to be on holiday either. I don't ever remember thinking, "Oh, I hope Mum and Dad have filled my days to the brim so that I'm not bored!" I liked going on adventures with them, but I also liked the potential of a completely unplanned day.

When a day is unplanned, it opens the world up for kids.

When a timetable is cleared, a child is free to fill it as he/she wishes.

When you have days where the only person asking anything of you is you,

then you are Captain of your Dreams.

And that's a wonderful thing.

And yes. Sometimes, you get BORED.

I totally remember being bored. I remember flopping onto the couch and announcing to anyone who would listen that I was Bo-o-o-ORED. And I remember waiting for someone to 'fix it.' And I remember sometimes suggestions being made. I remember irritating my parents. I remember getting no answer at all. I remember then flopping back into my room and reading some more. Those were the still days, the days like an empty wastebasket. At the end of them I'd think, "Nothing happened today! My life is so uninteresting!!"

But the next day, I'd find something to do. Because at some point, you realise it's kind-of up to you to fill your own empty space. Your parents might be busy, or your friends. It might be raining and/or the planned day might be cancelled. You might have actually had your fill of reading. (No! Say it ain't so!).

That's when your creative self steps in. It does. It has to—creativity sits inside you like an organ; it's a vital, integral part of yourself. If you give it enough time, air, space, it emerges.

If you get enough space, enough opportunities to be bored, then something has to come and fill it. 'Something,' can't help itself, whether it comes in the form of you waking up the next day and deciding to ride your bike up and down the street pretending it's a horse, or deciding to write a story, or make a mud pie or draw chalk pictures on your driveway. You might find yourself up a tree and daydreaming, imagining yourself in a tower or flying to the moon.

If you let a child get bored, give them enough empty space (and to be a complete rebel, imagine no tv, no computer, no playstation—gasp), then they will find something of themselves to fit that space. It might be through reading, writing, drawing, music, building, organising, socializing, inventing, fulfilling, baking, fixing, asking, questing or…

just breathing, and thinking, and being.

In that moment, it might look like your child is doing nothing…and maybe they are. Physically, maybe even mentally!

But what that stillness, and silence, and openness provides, is time to brew. Ferment…form…fix…and find. Time to create. Time to be.

And that, I think, is glorious.

(We've had three days of rain.
Inspired by a segment on a Mathtacular dvd, my girl created a board game with a visiting friend.
Then yesterday as it rained and rained and rained some more,
my girl and boy made board games…all day…and played them…all day.
And it's raining today, and my girl and boy are…
you guessed it…
making board games…and playing them… and
drawing and dreaming and being.


1 comment:

  1. How wonderfully true this is!
    My girls didn't know the word existed until other children introduced it to them. And then they would use it incorrectly, because they don't actually know what 'boring' is. Love it.


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