Weekend Assignment #190: Share some of your favorite boredom-alleviating tactics from when you were a kid.
I wasn't often bored when I was a kid...just a little on very cold snowy days. Not that I was easily entertained, mind you. I just think my mother was an expert at keeping the kids out of her hair. There always seemed to be a ready supply of new coloring books, fresh crayons or new packs of markers, paint-by-numbers, big ready-to-color posters and other assorted craft projects.
I used to love making jewelry (I had a rock polisher and various plastic cord or bead sets). I also made clothes for my Barbie dolls. I could play with my Barbies for hours. My mother didn't sew worth a darn, but she would go through phases where she would try. From that, I had access to a sewing machine and assorted scraps of fabric. There was also the large assortment of old cocktail dresses my mom had given me to play with. Dress up was WAY more fun when you had heels and outfits that could have come from Marilyn Monroe's closet to use.
When I wasn't in the mood to be arty, crafty or God to my Barbie universe...that's when my mother would shove us out the back door and say, "Be home when it starts to get dark." We had a nice swing set in the yard, this merry-go-round thing that seated 4 people and you pumped with your hands and feet to make it spin, a tire swing and woods to explore.
There was a shallow stream not too far back in the forest that was perfect for polliwog and frog hunts. We would also flip rocks looking for salamanders and earth worms. Then there were wild Concord grapes and blueberries for the picking. There were these other berries that we all seemed to instinctively know were poison, but we would improvise a mortar and pestle to crush them and make this vivid purple "ink". We would make primitive drawings on large boulders with a slender twig dipped in our ink. It was amazing how long those drawings would last. It was also amazing how permanent those purple stains were on our clothes.
Those boulders became props in endless games of "Let's Pretend." I always seemed to be the ring leader and would make up the story line. One of the larger boulders also had an adjacent tall tree full of thick vines. We would yank one loose and play Tarzan until the vine snapped from all the swingers. Fun stuff!
Riding our bikes, skateboards or big wheels up and down the street...playing ping pong in a neighbor's basement...helping the lucky kid who's parents encouraged his model rocketry hobby...drawing elaborate hop-scotch boards in chalk on the driveway... I could go on and on. Even just listening to the radio and dancing with my friends. There was hardly ever a dull moment.
Sadly, I haven't been very successful in imparting this "how to make your own fun" mentality to my oldest son. He frequently says he is bored. I guess having access to over 100 video games just isn't enough. I need a stash of projects tucked away somewhere like my mom always had. Unfortunately - where I would happily take an item and run off to do it - my son won't. He has to have someone do it with him. That doesn't help me get the house work done. :-/
It's a different world now-a-days. I can't just kick the boys out the front door and tell them to be home by dark. They don't have many opportunities to meet the neighborhood kids and make friends. Most other parents work full-time and play dates need to be scheduled during their precious free time. TV, video games and computers are a major distraction that is hard to fight (Super Mario Party on the Game Cube or a coloring book. Hmm. Yeah, right!)
I know the boys would be much happier if our yard were fenced with a nice swing set jungle gym thingy out back to play on. Hopefully we can work on that in the spring.