Growing up, I quickly learned that if I voiced objection to my transient periods of boredom to my parents, they would gleefully provide me with the antidote. I was handed a shovel, a paint brush, a rake or a variety of sure fire boredom busters.
In today's highly structured and adult supervised world, I wonder if kids get bored anymore. Today, many kids are managing schedules that would challenge an IBM executive. Additionally, it seems that many adults are engaged in an exhaustive pursuit of entertaining young people.
For the most part, weekends used to belong to you for work, friends or for family outings. Today, even weekends are occupied with a variety of activities, many that do not allow for family time or down time. Many kids feel pressured not to go on family outings or vacations because of their various involvements.
So what may be lost if a child never gets the chance to be bored and the majority of their activities are closely monitored by one adult or another? I would argue that boredom provides for periods of interior exploration, daydreaming and wonder. Most kids that I knew had chores at home and many also worked outside the home for someone else. If you didn't, you had no money.
On those occasional lazy days when I wasn't working or I didn't hook up with a friend, I would explore the river. Walking over slippery, moss covered rocks followed by falling into drop offs that would dip you into water over your head. I often found unusual rocks or rusty pieces of old cars or machinery. I dragged home an impressive pile of metal one summer. Sometimes I would encounter a fisherman with four or five nice bookies' off his fish tender or a young couple kissing or some older guys in from the hayfield, covered with hay chaff and sunburned skin.
One summer, my brother and I found an old truck, half in the water and half out. We removed the gas tank to use it for a float. In the process of turning it up, coins fell out. We spent hours hitting that tank and breaking loose enough coins to buy new fishing gear, two transistor radios and an entire summer of all the Pepsi we wanted. Over the years, we still wonder how the coins got into the tank, an eternal mystery. These essential and memorable experiences in the natural world might not have happened without a little boredom to elicit our actions.
Remember, all kids count.
Scott Hurlburt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org