Sunday, December 21, 2008


I am trying to learn to live with my daughters' boredom.

These days I am almost never bored, except when I am trying to avoid something I need to do, or  when I am struck with existential boredom.  But in the press of daily life, there is always something I want to be doing, along with so much I need to be doing.

I remember, though, being bored as a child.  I can't paint a sensory picture of it, but I recall there being nothing to do and nobody to do it with, or at least nothing I hadn't done a zillion times already.  It's not a painful memory; boredom didn't drive me to despair, but, alas, neither did it drive me to great feats of creativity.  It just was.

When my children sulk around doing nothing, I first try to engage them.  "Why don't you call so-and-so?"  I suggest.  Or "How about reading a book?  Playing a game?  Doing an art project?"  If they resist, sulkily, as often they do, I move from pushy to annoyed.  It's less the boredom that annoys me and more the attitude that accompanies it, the whininess, the negativity, the morose faces.  

The fact of the matter is: I am not a very fun mom.  I do not want to interrupt what I'm doing to entertain them; I just want them to be entertained (plus, I do not believe it is the job of mothers to entertain their children).

But the other fact of the matter is: it's fine for them to be bored.  Indeed, if they ignore my suggestions, and I give up on them, they usually eventually find something to do (at least the younger one does; for the older one, boredom crosses with teen attitude, and usually leads us into big fights, which then eventually lead to apologies, positive interaction, and something to do).  Even if they don't find something to do, what happens?  They're bored.  End of the world?  I think not.  I survived it.  And, who knows, maybe they will surpass their mother, as they do in so many ways, and be driven to great feats of creativity!

The real problem here, as always, and the real thing I can control, is not their boredom, but my attitude and approach.  If I let their boredom annoy me, we end up in catastrophe, but if I just let them do their bored thing, and go on my merry way, eventually they find their merry ways, or they don't.  Which is fine too.


Phantom Scribbler said...

We are fighting the Boring Battles here, too, and I also refuse to be their entertainment. (I bore two of 'em so that they could play WITH EACH OTHER, dammit.)

At one point last week, I had dubbed LG, "Boringest Boy, King of the Boring," which inspired BB to declare herself Queen of the Boring and make herself capes out of paper to go with her status as superhero of boredom. I figured that was at least a partial victory. (LG eventually got sent to his room in a snit. Sigh.)

Lauren said...

(plus, I do not believe it is the job of mothers to entertain their children)
Thank you for saying that. I feel guilty sometimes for not doing more "fun stuff" with my girls, especially since I'm an art teacher so of course I must do all sorts of fun art projects at home--not. I have my own stuff to do each day and yes, I had two so they would play together as well.

Libby said...

Oh, I'm so with you on not being the fun mom, and mostly being ok with that but occasionally not. But the worst is when boredom turns into too much screen time, which it too often does even when we have (supposedly) set limits.

Kelly said...

I'm printing this post out and stapling it to my forehead.

Letitia said...

Hey, moms. So interesting hearing you and friends discuss boredom. You say you suggest "why don't you play with your...." That's just looking for excuses. And you're right, you're not responsible for their entertainment. You could ask them, "What can you do that would make this (day, hour, activity more interesting?" If they give you any kind of decent answer, ask, "How would you do that?" Or "what materials do you need that are already in the house?" Lots of raw materials are really good to have around, a box full of stuff that gets pulled out sometimes and put back again for next bored time. Well, I sound like a mom telling you what to do. I raised four. Sorry...Check out my and in the hodge podge see what you can find. Let me know if anything interested you.
Motivation coach Letitia