Bored kids should taste the joy of quiet
This summer break has been quite an eye opener for more than one reason. For one, I actually know for a fact that, the problem of plenty exists. Let me explain.
Boredom, I am not sure, is a problem in the first place. Experts say that, today’s children lack boredom. This, according to them, is a problem because, only boredom can prick the creative juices to flow and get children to use their imaginative minds to do something. So, when my son, Sid, complained, I had to let him be – well, bored. But, Sid didn’t let go. He pestered and wanted to know what he could do. I was confused. Should I let him be bored so that his brain could do some work or actually suggest something so he could get on with it and let me be?
The other day, Sid and his friends argued a great deal before they asked me – the problem solver – what they could do because, well, you guessed it right, they were bored.
Play football, I offered. But, no, it’s too hot outside — they all objected. How about board games? I was hopeful. But, turned out, board games are not something children like these days.
Snakes and ladders was kiddish, Monopoly was a really long game and the kids wanted instant results, scrabble was well, almost like studying. So, the children were back to the big question — what could they do? There were three kids who were not doing anything but complain incessantly about boredom.
The irony is that, all the three kids have some kind of computer games at home, a host of board games, mechanical toys, sports kits, bikes and most importantly, they had each other.
Even as I listed the things out they could do, they were unwilling to do much. To top it all, the community swimming pool and a tennis court is a few yards away.
Back when I was a kid, there was no tennis court or swimming pool. All I had was endless greenery and a couple of kids in the neighbourhood. It was not always that, we played together. At times, when I was alone and bored, mum would ask me to go find something to do and I did.
It was during those periods of boredom that, I walked in the garden and marvelled at some of the gifts of nature. I watched the millipedes curl, the earthworms squiggle and I chased butterflies.
As for toys, I hardly had any. I had an old badminton racquet with a big hole, a rubber ball which bounced rather awkwardly, and no board games.
I remember spending so many afternoons, drawing out a ludo game on the floor with a chalk and play with my sister. We spent many evenings with other children running aimlessly and not bothering about bruising our knees and none of us had heard of a computer or a video game.
We didn’t know if it was too hot to play outside because, when we played, we didn’t think much of the weather. We walked and ran because, we never had bicycles.
My son and his friends do not chase butterflies nor have they seen millipedes. Even if they see a slug, they don’t marvel why, it leaves a trail behind.
All they need is constant action and they are too bored to go find out what they can do about their boredom. They have too many options but have the will to do too little. They don’t want to walk because, they would rather bike or go on a skateboard.
When I compare my childhood with my son’s, I think, there is a good reason why children refuse to get bored. They have no idea what it is like to taste the joy of quiet because they have never allowed themselves to be still.