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the summer of boredom July 5, 2011

Posted by caizooka in autism parenting.
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Welcome to summer in our household. I’ve taken upon myself to create ‘the summer of boredom’. It’s a long story how I got here, but I’m intent upon seeing this through. I believe in the principle whole-heartedly. I’m tired of being a slave to everyone else’s schedules only to have them unhappy and irritated at the end of the day. Is it all worth it? I often ask myself, ‘what am I doing?’. Every summer until now has involved a tremendously complicated schedule of who has to be where and when. The process begins in January…what camps? …will my child make baseball All Stars?…if not, we need a back up plan…if they do, how long will they play for?…who else is in the camps you are signing up for?…will my child even be friends with them when the camp rolls around?…can I afford this?!!

There is this unbelievable pressure that you feel if your kid isn’t trying to excel at EVERYTHING at EVERY GIVEN TIME. Gone are the days that you just give you kids time to ‘be’. Make some mistakes, find their creativity, learn their own strengths, be silly, and find out what their balance of their own expectations of themselves is with that of their family’s. I know…there is the flip side of this where if you give your kids too much room that they’ll dive into the world of drugs and become hoodlums. Quite honestly though, I wonder if another group of kids might be more susceptible to this…the group that are pushed so intensely by their parents in sports and academics to achieve, achieve, achieve . They want to revolt against the constant pressure. The looks on their faces of sheer agony when they miss that goal, miss that basket, lost that game.

I feel like I’ve been given a chance to just step back, enjoy, and let my kids just ‘be’ for the summer. They all have some things to do. We got a puppy last week that we’ve been planning for. We’re learning together how to care for him. We are going to learn how to fish. We are spending time with family. J is going to an Outward Bounds trip in Maine for 2 weeks. That will eat up most of our family’s entertainment budget…but it is worth every single penny. I’m so excited for him to learn. Learn about himself. Learn what his mind tells him to do, what song his heart sings, and how his spirituality speaks to him. What a wonderful opportunity for a 14 year old boy. He’s had a year that would make most veer off course, but he has held strong. Very strong. Unbelievably strong. I want him to be proud to be himself and to create his own internal barometer for his life. I want that for all of my kids. Hence, the summer of boredom endures…learning how to be bored is something that kids these days in our world aren’t often given the space to just ‘be’. The voids are seemingly filled with passive activities like tv, video games, etc.

Growing up, we certainly knew how to be bored. We built forts, we roller skated, we made up words that made no sense for no reason and laughed hysterically. It is great to have a sense of others’ expectations and a sense of humility. But, is over programmed and being told what to do at all hours the answer? Say what you might, but what seems to be missing in the kids these days is their own voice. They are so busy ‘being’ for someone else, for something else, that they hesitate to express themselves in that.

It kills me that my kids stand there waiting for the next direction from me. I hear things like, ‘I want to play with your iPhone’, ‘I want to watch a kids show!’ ‘What are we doing next?’ ‘When are we going to …’ Dare I declare that those days are over in our house?!! Well, I’m certainly going to make a concerted effort to make a change.

We recently attended the Ironman celebration in Coeur d’Alene to cheer my sister on. (btw, what an awesome event…so proud of my sis!!!) The kids were all sitting on the hillside complaining that they were ‘bored’. My mom told them to ‘find something to do’. About 10 minutes later they were all down on the street handing out water, powerade, ice, and cheers to the passing athletes. The older kids helping the younger kids. They didn’t have to be told to do it. They did it because they wanted to. They had a really, really great time doing it, too! ┬áIf they had been asked or told to do this they would have dragged their feet and revolted to no end, causing pure misery to everyone in their paths, including themselves.

I’m not a crunchy, make your own clothes, shoot your own meat, kinda gal. In case you were wondering and don’t know me. I do know that the lessons that I’ve learned the most from in life were the ones in which I had to learn on my own. The ones in which I was inspired by others and was guided by their confidence in me, given space to grow, yet not told what to do. And very importantly, I knew I was loved no matter what.