The Gift of Boredom

Sadly enough, summer is drawing to a close, and my mind is beginning to gear up for the schoolyear.   It’s been a great one so far, and I plan on milking these last few weeks for all they’re worth.  Mostly I’m thankful that this summer, my children experienced something wonderful.   They were bored.  Sure, we had a lovely vacation, and we’ve been to the pool and have had get-togethers with friends.  But most days, we’ve been here, hanging out at the house in our PJs well into the afternoon with no particular place to go.  

Those first few weeks were brutal, to be sure; the “transition” period of remembering how to be around your sibling all day every day can be a painfully exasperating task.  Those weeks also included a seemingly unending chorus of “Mo-om!  We don’t know what to do!”   They were always annoyed with my overly-chipper answer.  “How wonderful!  You are facing an empty canvas of possibilities!  What COULD you do?!!  How very fun!  I wonder what you will decide!”  (Eyes rolling my direction.)  But then, just as I was about to doubt the benefits of boredom and sign them up for seventy-eight camps, we made it over the hump of early-summer-exasperation… and the magic kicked in.  You know what magic I’m talking about- it’s the same kind of magic that made your own summers so memorable, when  you and your best friend would pretend to be Nancy Drew and ride around the neighborhood on your bikes with your trusty notebooks solving mysteries, or that time you and your brother converted the new refrigerator box into the Millenium Falcon.  

The last two months my kids made hand puppets and bookmarks and even laptops out of cardstock, they built forts and ships and space rockets out of pillows, they held a rather extensively planned doggie day care for our dog Baxter, much to his chagrin.  They went on approximately 47, 382 treasure hunts, each with stunning results.  (“I LOVE this blue floppy piece of felt!  Awesome!”)  They saved the world from the bad guys at least once a day throughout the month of July, often wearing velcro Superman and Batman capes for added flair.  One day, they dressed up as Mario and Luigi and spent the entire day pretending that our house was the Super Mario Galaxy.  (I think at some point they attempted to spin poor Baxter like a turtle, which may have been the low point of his summer.) 

I’m not sure they will share those things in a few weeks when someone asks what they did this summer.  They’ll probably say they went to the beach and got to go to the museums in New York City.  But when they get older, I hope they’ll remember the magic of a summer filled with empty days and the gift of boredom, and remember that time they sailed across the ocean on a big pillow toward an enchanted island.  That’s the part I’ll remember most fondly.


  1. i will remember the gift of boredom as i journey through living in solitude once more.

  2. Robin Bacon HoffmanJuly 28, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Hey there! I love this entry on bored kids and I’m so glad you had the patience and fortitude to wait for them to capture the magic that we knew as kids. It makes me happy for all of you, and it also brings to mind some happy memories of blanket forts, outdoor games, and running home for dinner after a day of freedom from schedules and planned activities.

    It also reminded me of your (somewhat doggedly) positive spirit!

    Miss you!

  3. My brother and I came up with things to do pretty quickly when we’d complain about being bored and our mom would respond, “oh, then you can clean your rooms!” And those are some of my very favorite memories–doing ridiculous things with my brother because we were bored made us best friends and not just siblings.

    Also, I bet it’s super fun to watch what your kids come up with each day! :)

Your email address will not be published.

Facebook IconTwitter Icon