But once I stopped rescuing them from boredom, I realized something. Given the chance, they came up with some pretty creative ways to spend their time.
I remember one day a few summers ago. Emily noticed a small bag of clothes next to the trash. These clothes had been handed down three times and had seen better days. Emily’s eyes widened.
“Cool! Can I have these?”
“Oh Em, they’re all ripped and stained. I’m just going to pitch them.”
She gasped. “Don’t throw them away! I can make clothes for Taylor’s dolls.”
You would have thought she’d found a buried treasure.
“Ok, fine.” I said, tossing her the bag.
So off she went with a pair of scissors, my needle and thread and an armful of dolls. She set up shop in her bedroom and spent the rest of the afternoon lost in her creations.
Now that my girls are getting older, they don’t have as many opportunities to get bored. There’s gymnastics, softball games, band and volleyball camp … and don’t get me started on all the electronic gadgets kids have today. (Yes, I know I sound old.)
But they still need unstructured free time. They need time to think and dream and play and create. Sometimes we get so used to having every minute planned out and structured that we forget how to entertain ourselves.
A couple summers ago, out of sheer boredom, the girls and I decided to walk a mile to the mailbox. The sky was cloudy, but if we hurried, we could make it back before it rained. On the way back it slowly began.
“Uh-oh. I just felt a sprinkle on my arm.” I said.
Within a few steps Emily joined in. “I just felt one on my cheek,” she said.
Madison looked up and crinkled her face. “A big one just landed on my nose!”
We marched along as drops of rain dive-bombed us like little moving targets.
Suddenly, the rhythm of the rain picked up. Now we had a challenge: get home before it poured.
As we turned the last corner, the sky opened up and the rain hammered down. We sprinted through the newly formed puddles, dripping wet and laughing hysterically. Our neighbor, standing under his front porch, smiled and waved as we raced by.
Last week Madison talked me into watching the Disney movie “Up.” In the movie, the little boy, Russell, was telling the old man about his favorite times with his dad. At one point he said, “It might sound boring, but I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most.”
I love watching my girls participate in all their summertime activities, but every now and then, we need a day when we don’t plan a thing. Perhaps I should schedule some unscheduled down time. After all, if I want them to have a fun and memorable summer, maybe I just need to give them the chance to be bored.
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