May 16, 2014

Boredom, What's that?

I remember when I was a kid, especially near the end of elementary school and throughout middle school, how often I would get just plain bored.
The internet was a new thing, just barely out of the box for public use, cell phones were something that only the rich could afford(and were massive), and computer games were just advancing out of being text based only.
There was even one point, during one hot summer vacation, that I remember complaining to my mother that I was going to die of boredom.
She sighed, and told me to find something to do.
So, I went up to my room and read a couple of books, did some drawing, then had a superb idea.
I ran downstairs, to my dad, and asked him if I could use his magnifying glass. 
He got it for me, and I ran outside with a grin on my face.
Ants, of course, were the first victim of my magnifying glass, plus nice hot sun, escapades, but I grew bored with raining fire and brimstone down on those poor bastards, and started burning holes in sticks, leaves, and I even tried burning a hole through a rock(remember I was just a kid).
But, I got bored with that, and found myself in that place again. 
Then it struck me, 'I bet I could set some of that dry grass in the corner of the yard on fire, using this magnifying glass'. It seemed like a revelation to me. Why hadn't I thought of it before. If I could burn things with it, why could I go a step further and harness the power of fire.
I melted a corner of my shoe, scared the hell out of my parents, and scorched a good 3 foot by 3 foot section of the yard that day, and got grounded for few days.
But, I'd figured out how to make fire using a simple magnifying glass.
What's the moral of this story(other than don't play with fire or... You know the rest)?
I guess it's simple really. Parents, caregivers, grandparents, etc. let kids get bored sometimes.
Let them use their imaginations, their natural creativity. Too often these days, kids don't get the chance to experience these wonderful side effects of boredom. They're on their cell phones or tablets(or yours), playing on the computer, making their way through a video game, watching television(or a streaming video service), or they're crying, begging, or bugging you about wanting to do one of the above.
Don't give in. Let them be bored. It's good to be bored sometimes. It will inspire reading, imagination, creativity, and they'll learn to come up with natural solutions to that boredom.
You may have to run outside, grab a hose, and put out a fire in your own front yard, or the like, but in between those things(and because they'll learn valuable lessons from those things), but they'll also learn how to entertain themselves, and grow up to be much more complete. They'll surprise you with how creative they can be, knock you off your feet with stories they've come up with on their own, learn how to act(through pretend fighting a whole contingent of monsters or crowning themselves queens of their own imaginary kingdoms), and most importantly, you may find out that it's good for kids to really be kids sometimes.