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Unpleasant Summer Weather and Bored Kids

August 6, 2008

This summer, it hardly needs to be said, the weather here has been awful…if you want the sun (which I do). We have had torrential rain that has been punching holes in the tarmac, and nothing that requires dry weather can really be planned. My circumstances this summer also mean that we have been unable to escape by buying some sun in foreign climes.

The result has been frequently ‘bored’ kids.

This has made me think a bit about summer holidays, distraction, activity and entertainment, and I think I’m coming round to the conclusion that I’m content to hear my kids proclaim they are bored.

There seems to be a paranoia among parents that drives us to keep our kids entertained and distracted. Whether it’s rugby camp, where my son is this week, or tennis camp, or music lessons or church activities, it appears that the cardinal summer sin of the middle classes is inactive children. So thousands are spent on foreign travel, then as soon as we return tanned and rested, we are twisted with stress trying to find things for the kids to do, which always seem to be external, programmatic and expensive.

I have even felt the guilt this summer (which is not like me) that I have been unable, physically or financially, to getting my kids what it appears they require. Endless entertainment.

Observing all this from a necessarily more sedentary position I am almost prepared to declare that BOREDOM IS OK! It may even be healthy, particularly as the potential long term implications of linking  entertainment and active engagement to spending power are so destructive to spiritual formation. What I mean is, I may be in danger of training my children in a particular response to dis-ease.

So, life is a little empty at the moment, response; spend. I’m a little unhappy today, response; buy a new thing. In addition, I may be training them to be uncomfortable in their own company, thereby craving distraction from the inner voice.

All that said, I’d still love to have better weather! Being bored in the sun seems much more pleasant.

[image from here]
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From → Formation, Reflection

4 Comments
  1. Marti permalink

    I’m glad to see you’re doing well Glenn. Just had to comment on this one – being a mum of 4 I’ve heard the ‘I’m bored’ thing often enough! And like yourself, I have no problem with it. I’m of the old school of parenting and definitely believe kids need to have time to be bored and just be happy with themselves. I’m working from home and just can’t drop everything to take them here, there and everywhere – and aside from our family holiday – the most expensive thing I’ve done for them this summer is buy them some books and DVDs – the younger ones are entertained for a while by TV (but I refuse to give in to let them watch any channel with commercials – I hate advertising aimed at kids – its immoral IMHO!)

    I know I’m beginning to sound like my own Mum – but she was right when I complained about being bored as a child and she told me I could do some housework if I was really bored (I’m NEVER that bored!!!) – and I have to say, I’ve always been quite happy to sit quietly and read or write – I hope my kids learn to be able to do that too!

  2. Doesn’t CS Lewis attribute the flourishing of his imagination to being stuck in the house bored on rainy Belfast days? He and his brother had to resort to making up imaginary worlds with talking animals etc. If his parents had sent him to ballet classes we might never have had Narnia…

  3. Have to say that brings a lot of common sense to an experience shared in our house hold…

  4. I feel the pain of all you parents…though possibly Jayber, you have better outdoor weather where you are than we have here…but don’t worry you’re punishment will come.

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