There is one thing I made my mind up to teach the boys this vacation. Boredom. They have been entertained up to the minute for quite a bit. Now, I fear they think they are entitled to such entertainment. And not privileged to such lenience. Soon, there will be only me to blame for like feeding, clothing and shelter, I took upon entertainment as a parenting responsibility. This has to stop. And I must act now.
It is quite weird as the new generation parents that we are, we buy our child more number of toys and an even more number of gadgets. All at the same time critiquing about it. We have a name for our style of parenting. The Generation Give-in. Lined up like multiple option questions are choices upon choice. It is a cover up of our guilt of not being able to spare enough attention. I felt the same too. But, thinking of it, as a parent, why take such a unwanted burden of guilt? And then sitting among a group of friends, we still do not lose any opportunity to say,
“Oh My! This child is so addicted.”
Till I realized that the only way I can crack this is by bringing in boredom. Only in boredom does the brain look for ways of engagement. Boredom triggers creativity. And this vacation,this will be what the boys get. And I will not be guilty.
We went on a camper van road trip. And the gadgets weren’t invited to the party. Ten minutes into the trip it was all fine. There was a lot of excitement shifting from the bed to the couch to the toilet to the bunk bed. Around the fifteenth minute, that word popped. ‘It is so boring‘. My mouth fell open.Here, I hadn’t even finished convincing my brain of the thrill to be sitting inside a camper van. And my 8 year old son was already done with the experience. I knew then, that things would have to be tackled right away. Or I would have no one or technology to blame for a ruined childhood, but me.
We brought back pretend play. It was ok to jump on the bed. It was ok to keep shifting places. Mess would be tolerated. Rock paper scissor was fun.Counting the cars that swooshed past was an activity too. By the time we got to the Turtle Reserve they had soaked in enough boredom that not just the turtles looked big, their experience felt bigger. They were back home from the trip exhausted, drained and full of stories.
We have all been bored. Sometimes out of our wits. But we turned out just fine. Even today, we play games in our head, talk to the invisible self, think and re-think the same thought, make animals of clouds, all thanks to the boredom as a child. I do not have issues with technology for my child. But there are definite issues with my child for technology. In the process of giving our child some technology, we, most often end up surrendering the child to technology.
After we have been really used to watching children engaged with some technology play all the time, it is annoying to answer the same question over and over again. To being audience to relentless complaints and sulked faces. To be witness to tears and drama. To anger and turned away faces. To some heights of bother that ruin even our day. But believe me, once done with this test, it is all worth it.
I’d rather have the boys blow a dandelion than technology blow their childhood away.
Allow the child a space. A space for boredom.