Daddy Talk: I’m So Bored
By Tim Krason
School started back just in time. Just a couple weeks ago, our kids were bored out of their minds, for approximately two months. Never mind that this summer we went to the beach for a week, that the boys spent four days at a summer camp, that we set up a ninja warrior course in the backyard, that we operated roadside lemonade stands, that we played the Nintendo. At any point when these events weren’t happening, at least one child could be expected to shuffle into the room and say, “I’m bored.”
The poet William Wordsworth feared that the rapid events of his day and all the new opportunities for entertainment and amusement would deaden our sensitivity to all the smaller joys of everyday life. And that was over 200 years ago in England! As I look around, I fear that indeed our sensitivities are dead. My kids stare at a closet full of toys and think that there’s nothing to play with. Some of the adults I know will click through 100 television channels and look at Netflix titles for half an hour before declaring that there’s nothing to watch. One day recently, I had several hours of free time…and sat there at home fretting because I couldn’t figure out what to do with myself.
A contemporary author that I was reading points out that the words “bored” and “boredom” do not appear in written English until the 1800s, which not only confirms Wordsworth’s earlier fears but also makes us wonder if people before then simply did not have time and leisure to become “bored.”
Since I’m one of the few people that has a propensity to worry about stuff like this, I should also admit that I even approached our family pediatrician about it and wanted to know if there was something wrong with my kids. She said that her kids are also often bored and that she remembers being bored at times as a child. I’m not sure that this answer reassured me. If even our finest doctors out there, as well as their children, get bored, I suspect that the boredom epidemic is much graver than I expected.
Being now completely overwhelmed by the proliferation of boredom in our society, I admit that my first impulse is to find crazy activities for all of us to do. A community painting day. The biggest game of soccer that would fit on the biggest field in town. A water balloon fight that could take place throughout all the streets of Olde Towne Clinton. But do you see? This kind of thinking is what got us here! What we need is to do absolutely nothing and learn to enjoy that. Even as the busyness of the school year is starting to bear down upon us.
Maybe let’s all pull out hammocks and lie around this fall. Maybe everyone on the entire street can pull lawn chairs into the front yard and just stare at each other: “Hi, neighbor! What you doing over there?” “Nothing! Just sitting!” “That’s wonderful! How are you enjoying it?” I fear the response would be, “It’s horrible! We’re bored!”