Bored? Eat A Ding Dong.

I was recently speaking with a person who charges way too much damn money helpful counselor type person about my life. When I brought up how crazy making it is that the kids will tear down the house like a couple of teething puppy dogs if they are left to their own devices for more than 20 seconds. She replied with, "Maybe they are bored?" And (in my head) I replied with "So. Fucking. What."

We have memberships to a local pool, a kickass zoo, a gorgeous arboretum complete with children's garden and we live a stone's throw from a million other child friendly venues. Nary a week goes by without play dates, outings, bike rides and hikes. They have grandparents that heap toys upon them in such large quantities it's as if they are trying to bribe corrupt city officials. So bored?

(This is the part where I sound like a crabby old man) Remember when we were little? I got shuffled out the door with a PB&J wrapped in tinfoil and a ding dong and was told to return when the sun set. Need a drink? Find a hose.

We came up with the most amazing shit to do too. We ground up berries, mixed them with water and tricked the mean kids into thinking it was Koolaid. We peed, or watched other people pee, inside the giant metal clown at the playground, laughing at the thunderous noise we produced. We jumped into dumpsters and rescued china Jesus dolls to bring home as souvenirs. We held on for our dear lives as the big kids spun on us on the merry go rounds. We burned our asses trying to go down the hot metal slides with no underpants. Cruised the Bookmobile and played fast and loose chasing the ice cream truck in the street.

We were sunburned, dirty and lucky to be alive. But we lived baby. And we were not bored.

But I smiled and nodded as this counselor person suggested that I do structured crafts first thing in the morning. That I set up a chart so that they knew what their routine was every, single day. Then I went home, tossed some ding dongs at the kids and sent them outside to play. You're welcome childhood. You are welcome.

15 comments:

Dawn Johnson Warren said...

I was just thinking this morning about how we feel it's our responsibility to fill our kids time and keep them from being bored. Toys, tv, blah blah blah. I had this insane thought about throwing everything away and making them use their imaginations. Imagine that! ha!

Ang said...

AMEN! I send them outside every day and their imaginations are hilarious. Right now they are washing their bikes and trying to get them to look brand new and then they are putting cards in the spokes to make them sound like motorcycles. This is good shit!

No Obvious Wrong said...

Summertime was the best! Roaming gangs of kids, making up "routines", building tree forts, etc. etc. I remember being kicked out of the house as well.....only to come back for lunch and dinner.

Diana said...

I am so glad you didn't take the counselor's advice. And really? Wish you'd have told him/her your thoughts. Scheduling the hell out of kids' day just makes me want to stab someone. Right now mine are outside playing ... well, to be honest I'm not sure. All I can tell you is that I *can* see them. They're in the back paddock and it looks like the oldest has two long sticks. So far no one is bleeding.

areyoukiddingme said...

So THAT'S where this crap is coming from! My daughter has a ton of toys, which she largely ignores. She goes outside and is mostly expected to entertain herself while we do yardwork. I can't wait for the day when I can hand her a ding dong and tell her to go play...but I will probably give her a bottle of water too, because she gets dehydrated easily.

Angela (Posy Moe) said...

You said it, Sister! Like when our counselor gave my son a 3 ring binder to organize his ideas and thoughts on how to stay organized at school. (Uh huh, here's your check for $150, Dr. BS, now don't ever let me see your face around here again.) At our house, "I'm bored" is french for "I'd like to do some chores, please."

Lotta said...

Great comments! I realize we can't just send them blindly out the door to play anymore but I think we entertain them too much too. Sometimes the best stuff comes out of being bored! Ok, done being a crabby old man about it.

Gretchen said...

I am not ingnoring my children I'm fostering their independence...

Seriously though - kids need to be able to find something to do on their own...

Charlotte said...

RIGHT on! We do kids such a disservice when we sterilize their "play" to the point that the freedom to explore, take risks, heck, even (gasp) scrape a knee- is scrubbed away... so often, and with the best of intentions, overeager parents suck all the fun out of play by doing something as counter-intuitive as slapping a chart on the fridge and turning play into a chore, thanks for sharing this fresh perspective!

Robyn said...

When I was a kid, "I'm bored" was a surefire way to get put to work. We learned very quickly to entertain ourselves.

Lotta said...

Gretchen, Charlotte, Robyn - True! Today the kids had a yard sale with toys they didn't want. Walked to icecream planet (while I watched) and made a robot out of stuff in the recycling. Awesomeness!

Undomestic Diva said...

Oh I love you.

I am *mean* according to my kids because I make them stay outside most of the day and play. TOGETHER. Oh. My. God. I'm not sure how they survive it.

When we were younger, you weren't allowed to come inside unless someone was bleeding. And even then? You got a band-aid and went back out.

Shaping Youth said...

Brilliant post. Biggest smile I've had all day...Now combing Twitter to keep in touch w/the rest of our posse of parenting sans bubble wrap...Brava! Here are a couple of posts on 'free play' at Shaping Youth you might like too (I won't link spam/blog hog, so just Google if ya want 'em)

If Kids Could Be Dolphins: The Power of Creative Play

The Value of Unstructured Play

The Case for Make-Believe Part One

Defending Pretending: The Need for Prominent Play: Part 2

Media Savvy Kids and Nature Deficit Disorder

The Nature of Tweens: Wired Worlds & Outdoor Ed

Shaping Youth Through Nature, Media Unplugged

yadayada...

Major ally here; thrilled to find you via my pal Melissa aka @PigtailPals :-)

Best, Amy
(aka @ShapingYouth on Twitter)

LSL said...

I adore this post :)

Kirsten said...

Bored? REally? They seemed pretty entertained when they are tearing up the house. My two youngest were just running around with an open umbrella pretending it was raining. That's not boredom.

The way I see it, there are two options....entertain them all day and coordinate their messes, or leave them be and put out small fires as they go along. Sometimes I go a little crazy and then the TV goes on.

I asked my mom about this a few years back. She said that she'd have a house full of kids one or two days a week but that was no big deal because the other days of the week, we were all tearing up another house while hers was quiet.

A messy house means no one got yelled at the TV stayed OFF!