Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting, says boredom is the precursor to creativity. In an interview with founder and CEO of The Mother Company, Abbie Shiller, Mr. Payne suggests:
Allow your children to be bored. I like to call it the gift of boredom. Allowing children to be bored truly is a gift. When a child comes to you and states their boredom, say “oh dear” and empathize “I can see you are bored” but don’t offer some kind of entertainment. Let the child be resourceful because out of boredom comes engagement and creativity.
Although, it had been a practice of ours to let the girls explore their own creativity and devise their own games and fantasy worlds; and although we’d always kept the various forms of video entertainment to a bare minimum in our house; and although we’d pretty much left our children responsible for dealing with their own boredom when it occurred (however much we were also playing with them); it was a nice kind of reassurance two years ago when our friend, village co-mom, and Feeleez co-creator, Kris, shared with us some of what she’d discovered in Payne’s wonderful book — including and especially his take on letting kids experience boredom. I took it to heart then, and began this series of celebrations of times when our girls made/make up novel ways of entertaining themselves with whatever was/is at hand at any particular moment. Whether its fashioning a bow and arrow from a lilac sucker-branch and some construction twine, or making collages of paint color swatches, or even creating a fashion spread from phone camera shots and their own wardrobe — these three fantastic minds have invented stellar landscapes, tools, friends, and all manner of adventures from the most ordinary and mundane objects imaginable.
Case in point. What you are seeing here is a playscape that Xi and Echo created using only their imaginations, the front window blinds, and a delicate touch. They actually have a Playmobile Fairy Realm (or some such thing-a-ma-bobber) that came with the tiny flowers, foliage, and accoutrements, but they abandoned the unit itself and took the parts they wanted, along with some other items, like the toy car, and the pipe cleaners, which were just lying around, and built a whole new world (Disney gave me permission to use that phrase…) for themselves.
This set took quite a while for the ladies to construct and fawn over and fine tune. Then it provided them both with a few more hours of pretend locale and real enjoyment. I felt somewhat trepidatious about the use of the blinds — certainly not what I would consider “a toy”, and such moments still ring a distant alarm bell in my subconscious as I was indoctrinated with the law of “thou shalt not use things for purposes other than those for which they were intended!” when I was young.
To their credit, the girls were extremely conscientious about treating the blinds gently once we let them know that was our preference. We did wind up agreeing to leave the scenes set up through the night, which meant I felt like it was an episode of The Truman Show in our living room all evening… but we suffered through. 😉
Every time I see them venture off into this sort of creative self-entertaining, and the fluidity with which they shift the symbolic meaning of this or that item around to suit them and their particular needs for any moment (or pretend) in time — it makes think they’re like super-kids or something. Then I remember, “No, they’re just regular kids getting to be kids, that’s all…”.
So simple. And so good for them, and us all. We just let them create bliss from their own would-be boredom. Thank you Kim John Payne.
Be well, you bores!