There are few things the boys say that wind me up more than “I’m bored.” (And there are few things that make me feel more like a parent than how wound up I get about them saying it.) I’ve never really known how to respond before. Sometimes I go with listing the many and varied things they could be doing. Sometimes I choose the old “You don’t know how lucky you are” chestnut. Occasionally I even growl “Only boring people are bored…”
But I’ve just been reading a novel – Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – that features the perfect response:
Bernadette and I were driving Bee and a friend, both preschoolers, to a birthday party. There was traffic. Grace said, “I’m bored.”
“Yeah,” Bee mimicked, “I’m bored.”
Bernadette pulled the car over, took off her seat belt, and turned around. “That’s right,” she told the girls. “You’re bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”
I love that so much. It applies to life in general, of course, and it’s great for home ed. Because we don’t do any formal education, because the boys are learning through living, sometimes they will be bored. But because they’re at home, if they choose to, they can do something about it in a way I don’t think they could if they were at school (god knows, I remember watching the classroom clock and wondering how 45 minutes could ever last sooooooo looooooong). I like that instead of learning how to tolerate being bored, they’ll be learning that it’s on them to do something about it. To make life interesting. For themselves.