Each day includes the same conversation when returning from work this time of year.
“Dad, I’m bored,” a little one will say.
I’ll respond, “Hi, Bored. I’m Dad.”
And so goes the Dad-versation. It’s about a month before school returns, and the abundance of free time somehow paralyzed my children’s imaginations.
Whatever our efforts, they still expect my wife and I to become the fun and games committee when we walk through the door. And frankly, my idea of fun and games is different than theirs.
My memories of childhood involved making our own fun. My siblings and I would play school, or pretend to work in an office, or open a private detective bureau in our neighborhood. When we couldn’t come up with our own fun, there were always weeds in the garden we could pull (thus we didn’t dare admit to boredom).
I wouldn’t imagine asking my dad to entertain me. I spent a lot of time with him growing up, but that’s because I found an interest in the things he did. I learned to enjoy tinkering with electronics, going fishing and taking karate classes with him.
Left to their own devices, they’ll retreat to their rooms and stare at little electronic devices delivering videos to them. Then they’ll have the audacity to say they’re bored when they’re doing exactly what they want to do.
It raises the question. Instead of being bored, is it possible my children are boring?
Our 15-year-old daughter rolls her eyes at anything we suggest. Our 9-year-old daughter will try other activities we suggest for about five minutes before she wanders back to her room. Our 8-year-old daughter will storm off the first time she feels like she might not be perfect at an activity. And our 3-year-old foster daughter is up for anything she can understand, which limits her options.
They all return back to those silly videos, which they’ve already told us leads to boredom.
Yet they can’t offer any other ideas of how to spend this free time they so anxiously sought toward the end of the school year.
We’ll continue to try to entertain them when we come home, which sometimes is the furthest thing from your mind after a mentally taxing day. We’ll keep on going for walks, trying to play games in the backyard or trying to make routine trips to the store seem like a highlight of the day.
But most of all, we’ll keep counting down the days until the school year begins. Then the routine, the after-school activities and the sheer normalcy of education will return us to their normal state. And a few weeks into it, we won’t even remember what bored felt like.