Kids and Summer Boredom: Should Parents Come to the Rescue?

I got screamed at yesterday.  Surprisingly, not by my teenager, but my soon-to-be teenager. And just what were those oft-repeated, often-heard-in-summer-words, this time uttered at the top of her lungs?  “I’M BORED!!!!!!!”  Followed by: “WHAT CAN I DO?!! FIGURE OUT SOMETHING FOR ME TO DO!!!!!!!  Followed by bedroom door slamming, and after that, crying.  Geesh.  I thought I was over those years of “Mommy, please fill my every waking void…”

So that I could get even a shred of work done during the summer, I used to do just that, at least two to three days a week: schedule day camps, mothers-day-outs, etc., planning far in advance to fill the summer calendar, beginning as early as late February.  But as kids get older, I think they need to be more responsible for filling in their time, to foster creativity, independence, etc., and so each summer for at least the last three summers, I’ve cut back on scheduling with Emmie, and it happened around the same age for Allison.  Yes, I offer suggestions and do help them fill in some of the time with planned camps/activities/volunteer work, but it’s definitely less scheduling than before.  As a result, I have seen some creative stuff happen– I remember a cool bulletin board collage Allison created one summer, and this summer, Emmie’s tried to do a lot of money-earning activities, like a lemonade stand with a friend, extra yard work, and last week she hand-rolled all the pennies in Andy’s 20+ year-old, giant penny jar, netting $30 for herself and $30 for charity.

Yet, why has this summer been christened by her, several times, as The Most Boring Summer Ever?  Is it because it’s the hottest summer since she’s been born? I don’t think so.  She still gets outside in this heat, whether it’s to jog around the block, or ride her bike to the neighborhood pool. Is it because we chose to take our vacation early in the summer rather than later? Maybe.  Normally, we’d be out of town during this late part of the summer, and it seems like a lot of her close friends have been out of town lately.  I keep telling her to “expand her friends list”, to not just call up girls from her school class.  What about from gymnastics? What about from Girl Scouts? What about the friends she made at past summer activities? Sometimes that works– it netted her a fun day out at an old friend’s house last week… but when no friends are returning calls, and your kid doesn’t know what else to do, and they’re tired of reading, watching TV and practicing their musical instrument, should a parent step in?

Before the screaming started yesterday, I felt sorry for her, so I stopped what I was doing and started looking up info on other city pools (our neighborhood city pool is closed on Mondays).  “I’ll take you to another pool,” I offered. I have yet to go swimming this summer, and thought it might be fun. But she said it wouldn’t be fun with just me, that she needed to have a friend go along, and no one was available.  And that’s when the screaming began.  I politely clocked out of my “boredom busters” job for that day. “You know, when you act like that, you won’t get any help from me,” I said.

I was relieved to get out of the house soon after, to go pick up Allison from a drill team activity.  When we returned, Emmie had gotten out a set of watercolors and was sitting on a stool, painting on a white piece of paper at a kitchen counter.  It was a book cover, with each word a different color.  “WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR BORED!” it read.

I can’t wait to read what will go inside…

2 thoughts on “Kids and Summer Boredom: Should Parents Come to the Rescue?”

  1. Gee whiz, how did you get into my house?! Dealing with this very thing right now. We vacationed early, too; and kids’ friends are all on vacation now or are too busy with other activities.

  2. Yes, I’m definitely re-thinking the timing of our vacation next year– and making sure it’s to a cool and breezy place!!

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