The Heat is On

Growing up, summer was always my favorite time of year. School was out and bike rides, slumber parties, the beach, camping, and general laziness were in. I loved summer. I also thought summer was a wicked kind of boring.

“Mom, I’m soooooo boooooored.” I must have said it a million times. My mom’s response was, “Go find something to do.” I thought that was cruel since her brain was bigger and, naturally, more full of ideas. When pushed, she was happy to offer suggestions, but they usually involved weeds or a vacuum cleaner so I stayed bored.

Now I’m a parent and I can tell you this: My brain may be bigger but it’s empty. There’s nothing in there. Oh, there used to be stuff in there, but that was before I got pregnant and my brain fell apart. When it comes to managing a bored child and generating some fun, I top the parentally challenged list. Thankfully, I have friends who are equally challenged, so when school wraps up we’re on the same page.

“You guys around this summer?”

“Are you doing camp? Which one? Is it cheap?”

“How about swimming? Any sports? Is it all day?”

The only parents I know who aren’t praying for summer to end already are Super-Parents. Super-Parents have lots of brain cells and ideas. Coincidentally (or not), many Super-Parents are great cooks. I’m a terrible cook. There must be a correlation between cooking up food and cooking up ideas. In any case, I’m not a Super-Parent and this got me wondering . . .

Is it my generation or has summer parenting always been a challenge?

I asked my mom and favorite aunt what they remember about parenting during the summer. Specifically, I asked them if they found it stressful. Surprisingly, my mom said no. “You guys had neighborhood playmates.” I guess three bored and whining kids didn’t do her in. My aunt wasn’t stressed either, which really baffles me because she had four kids in six years. She kept them busy with camps and trips to see the grandparents. Hmm, both of them unfazed. Maybe it’s because they were young moms and had more energy to manage it. Or maybe it’s because parenting today is nothing like it was then.

Today we have oodles of information at our fingertips. Parents know more, worry more, and schedule more. It’s as if a belief took hold that children won’t develop right if not constantly in motion. When I was a bored kid my mom didn’t sweat it. Today, kids and parents fear boredom. I’m terrified of it, because it means I need to Do Something, which is hard when you’re in a constant state of fatigue. Honestly, I’m ripe for the idea that it’s best to have kids right after high school.

So with everything in constant motion, a good dose of bored may be just what we need. This article agrees. Bored has benefits. It can also be meditative and restorative. I’m thinking if I were bored more I’d be tired less. I’m also thinking the next time my son’s bored I’ll just tell him, “Let’s cook.”