Time to Rethink Boredom

It was around 10pm on a Tuesday when my 9 year came out of his room completely distressed, worried that he didn’t do his homework right. He had been in bed for an hour already and the worry had him in a frantic state of mind.

The back story to this homework dilema is that we had gone on vacation from Thursday to Tuesday and his teacher had given him a few days worth of math work to do.

He had done the homework in pieces, which was fine by us, we didn’t want his vacation ruined, he needed it just as bad as we did. His worry wasn’t that he didn’t complete it, it was that he may not have done it right.

So why did the worry all of a sudden feel like he had an elephant on his shoulder?

My son, like many people, is fascinated by technology. Boredom is an evil word, when it comes it’s immediately medicated with a quick click of an on button and slide of the unlock bar on our iphones and ipads. It’s not ok to have nothing to do.

During vacation he went all day as hard as he could until he crashed. On the night before school he wasn’t exhausted, it was just simply his bedtime. It was in that moment of silence and boredom that his mind wasn’t being numbed by a quick fix of mostly useless, time filling digital consumption. It was in that calmness of life that his mind had a chance to stop and think clearly.

As much as this was the perfect lesson for him, it was also the perfect lesson for me. It was easy to sit him down at 10pm and speak into his digital fascination, bringing up examples of how he can’t help but turn on technology the moment there’s nothing to do. It was easy to use this situation to point out how the silence of just laying there helped him realize what he may have missed.

But there I was, Dad the hypocrite.

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