You know what I want to be this summer? I want to be bored, just like my kids. Sign me up.
My children have perfected boredom. From the exaggerated sighs to the flopped posture on the couch, they have made boredom look downright fabulous. Initially, my lack of financial ability to put them in camps and take them on trips had me feeling inadequate, but I’m over the guilt. Sometimes boredom is a good thing. It forces imagination, creativity and crazy stuff like reading. It’s about making room for a pace of life where every minute isn’t structured, planned and accounted for. Stillness is good, at least for a while.
There was a joke floating around social media circles recently about giving our kids a 1970’s summer, you know, back when gaucho pants were a style (shudder).
It got me to thinking about my childhood summers, back when we used suntan oil so thick we were slippery and we’d lie in the sun on our Pepsi towels, basically frying in the UV rays, because nobody thought we could die that way. Then we’d belly flop into the pool and leave a film of residue on the chlorine surface of the pool which was horribly cold, because nobody had thought to harness the sun’s power for solar heat yet either. Then we’d hop out when we heard the ringing bell of the Dickie-Dee ice-cream guy, coming through the neighbourhood peddling the best fudgesicles known to man without a second thought of food allergies or sugar counts. We would run directly into the path of oncoming traffic to be first in line to buy one too. Our parents would actually pay us to run in traffic. Good times.
We could run through the sprinkler without worrying about whether or not it was our water allowance day and that one activity would take us hours, because no matter how cold that tap water was, you didn’t stop until the grass was mushy beneath your feet.
Then we’d hop on our banana seat bikes, free of helmets and set off to destinations unknown, without mobile phones, two-way radios or homing devices for our parents to track us. We lived by the adage “what our parents don’t know couldn’t get us grounded.” And no matter what, I made time for Gilligan’s Island and the Brady Bunch. If I was really lucky, I caught The Hardy Boys on Sunday nights too.
The world was every bit a scary place as it is today, we just didn’t seem to dwell on the negative. My generation didn’t grow up in a culture of fear, but somehow, we’ve created one. Imagine the panic if a man drove up our streets selling ice cream off a bicycle. We’d lock the doors and call the cops. Besides, it would likely cost $12 for an ice cream, so technically, the guy would be a criminal.
Kids, welcome to your 1970s summer. No schedules, camps or pre-planned activities through the day, just boredom, lots of boredom and sunscreen. iPads are allowed in moderation. Sports are allowed, (because lazy isn’t okay). This summer my kids will learn to use their imagination. Read a book. Earn independence. And the first one to whine has to wear gaucho pants and recite the Bay City Rollers. Boring.