It is a beautiful summer day. The sun is shining and the birds are singing. Mother Nature has really outdone herself in the beauty of the day she has provided today. The windows are open and I am enjoying a great cross-breeze flowing through the house as my little cat snores away on the couch, in the same summery happy place as I am. It is one of those ultimate moments of calm and serenity.
Then the moment is interrupted when I hear one of the neighbourhood kids, through my front window whining, “I’m booooooored”. Maybe it’s just me, but that statement is like fingernails on a chalkboard.
I understand it is a different time, but one of the most vivid memories of childhood was that being bored was not an option, no matter how bored you were. Being bored was illegal in 1974, wasn’t it?
Keep in mind that back then, on Sundays, EVERYTHING was closed. We only had one TV and only 12 channels, but of course Dad had control of it, and it was tuned exclusively to the sports he wanted to watch. So if I wanted to see anything else, I was out of luck. Period. No negotiation.
We had bikes, playgrounds, neighbourhood friends and convenience stores. We had arcades too but playing video games on stone tablets required a lot of upper arm strength. We also played with rocks, mud and our imaginations.
If that wasn’t already a solid foundation for boredom I don’t know what is. But still, being bored was not an option. If I ever uttered the word bored, or even whispered it, I would be handed a rake, a bucket, list of work to be done around the house that would be provided… likely free of charge… as a “grounding” for being bored. I sometimes thought that even thinking about being bored would earn me a pair of rubber gloves and a toilet brush, so I kept to myself.
I also was disadvantaged in the fact that I didn’t have brothers or sisters to annoy, er.. I mean… play with. My parents made it clear that I was to make my own fun, they were not there to entertain me. So I made my own fun.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, this was the motivation behind turning cardboard into my own miniature replica sets of the Price Is Right. I created my own props and game boards. My Matchbox cars were the cars awarded as prizes and our Sears catalogue had major holes in it as I often cut out the furniture pictures in order to make up elaborate showcases, just like on the show. That helped add some excitement.
Also, Dad was handy with lumber, so he offered me some hand-me-down tools and I started creating things with leftover wood. I remember making some pretty rough looking chairs, traffic lights for the basement, signage placeholders (I guess civil obedience started early). But in the end, I grew up not being afraid of the workshop and I knew how to use tools, a life skill that carried me well into adulthood and as a homeowner.
I also like to think that the elimination of boredom from my repertoire of feelings, is what sparked a vivid imagination for characters and stories that is alive and well today.
In today’s world with limitless entertainment options for kids, there are no shortage of venues that are open on Sundays adding exponential possibilities for getting out and about. It truly blows my mind that the neighbourhood kids’ vocabularies include the word “bored”.
The next time I hear it, maybe I should go out there and ask if they have seen the latest back-to-school flyers because I did not receive mine? Maybe that will change the topic quickly enough and restore the serenity of a perfect summer day.
And thanks Dad… what a wonderful gift!
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Have a great day,