For those of you who haven’t yet seen this series, the basic gist comes from Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting, wherein he suggests that we give our children ample opportunities to experience a little boredom, or more precisely, to stave off such temporary feelings themselves, rather than being constantly entertained and absorbed by organized activities, TV, and video games.
Here’s what I wrote last year to inaugurate this series:
When we allow our children to experience a little boredom, we give them the opportunity to create something. When we abstain from filling every second of their day with some exciting activity, lesson, or entertainment, we allow our children to use their powerful minds to invent games, fantasy scenarios, and whole worlds of interactive play. And according Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of The Magical Child (among other important works), it is play which is the single most important activity for any child under seven. Not learning to read, not practicing arithmetic, not watching language videos, or some other Baby Einstein activity — just imaginative play. It is the result of eons of evolving as a species, and it is not only important for proper brain development, it is vital for survival as well.
When we get in the way of imaginative play, as we often do and [have been] encouraged to do by [nearly] every new pop-psychologist who [has] come down the line, we interrupt our children’s natural development, inhibit normal brain functioning, and handicap our children’s potential — permanently. However, if we, instead, support our children’s natural drive to play, interact, invent, and create, we offer them opportunities for potent developmental success, the likes of which most of us have never seen, and many of us cannot even imagine.
And the key to allowing imaginative play is — you guessed it — ample opportunities to first experience boredom. If we fill in all those momentary gaps with TV, movies, video games, organized activities, various lessons, and the like, we may avoid hearing our kids say they are bored, but we may just as likely be teaching them that boredom is a curse rather than a blessing. And we are certainly undercutting their opportunities for the best possible evolution of all their potentially amazing faculties. I don’t know about you, but to me that doesn’t sound like a decent trade.
So, from here on out, we are going to be occasionally celebrating the fruits of boredom. And I’ll be sharing with you some of the wonderful things our kids come up with from facing and relishing their moments of (near) boredom.
And here’s another installment of that celebration.
Izabella was wandering around the yard the other day, picking at various items she found there. I was working outside as well, doing my best to reconstitute the beautiful gardens that we had before remodeling our home last year. As is often the case, but more so these days, there was a fair amount of things most people would call debris lying around, tucked here and there, and awaiting either use or refuse. (I’m getting to it, I promise!)
As Izabella was exploring and making up little games for herself and playing, she came across two seemingly unrelated bits of yard debris. The weathered orange twine from a recent straw bale acquisition (and dispersal), and a cane of lilac I had pruned out of one of our bushes. Before long she was tying knots and making little splits in the flexible cane.
The next time she came around the house to where I was, she was wielding her own bow. And within seconds she was deeply involved in a game using it. She was so pleased with her creation, that she even brought it down to our favorite café to show some friends. She gave several tutorials on the bow’s construction while we were there.
As we were leaving to return home (to find more sticks and make arrows), one friend yelled from the alley, “Nice bow, Artemis!”. And after I translated, Izabella was so moved and so appreciative that she strongly regretted that we were too far away for her to thank the complimenter. She spent several minutes in the car, wishing she could express her gratitude, and trying to figure out how she could.
She didn’t yet get to do that, but we did get to have a fun talk about Artemis. And Izabella wowed the sisters for quite some time with her fantastic new creation. And I, once again, thanked our lucky stars for how splendidly our girls entertain, enthrall, and imagine themselves. Makes me want to burn the summer camp schedule…
Hope you guys have some boring fun, too, this summer!