"I'm bored," whined my 10 year-old as she rolled all over the living room carpet.
Since I didn't respond, she kind of rolled in my direction, heaved a long sigh and said in a whinier, louder, and much more annoying voice, "I'm BOOOORRRRED!"
So I glanced in her direction and said, "Good for you."
And this is why my children claim that I am the meanest mom on the face of the planet....like EVER!
After giving me the dirtiest look a freckle-faced 10 year-old can muster, she rolled back across the carpet to the other side of the room. She did occasionally moan or sigh overly loudly just to remind me that she was super bored and that I was a horrible mother for allowing this travesty of boredom to continue. But without reaping the desired response from me (I was busy trying not to be overly annoyed without experiencing a lot of success), she rolled back across the carpet, looked up at me and said in her whiniest, loudest, most annoying voice yet, "Mom...I'm sooooooooo miserably bored."
"Listen, Dear Child of Mine, you are bored and it's a wonderful thing. It means that your time is not so full of meaningless structured tasks that you can sit without doing anything. It means that you can roll all over the carpet and respond to the stirrings of your own heart.
"It means that you are not being sucked into the competitive busy-ness of our society where everyone feels they must be constantly occupied and outwardly stimulated. Instead you can sink deep within yourself and explore the vast depths of your own soul and your boundless imagination. Entire universes of possibility reside there inside the artistry of your brain, just waiting to burst forth from your ingenuity. What awesome and absolute power you possess!
"No, don't turn on the television or the computer or some other soul-sucking electronic device. Do not fall prey to the hypnotic lure of the screen. It's a quick and simple and utterly mindless fix, like inserting a narcotic needle and squeezing out passive entertainment. I know it can be soothing, but it blunts your acute young senses like an opiate...or morphine...or belladonna...and it is just as addictive. It's nothing more than a sedative that induces a slumber that leaves you unaware of this bustling, beautiful, breathing world around you.
"You see, Sweet Child, boredom is a symptom of being completely in the moment, in a Zen master sort of way. You are almost there. There is no real difference between boredom and reflection. You are right here, right now, rolling across the room, covered in dog hair, breathing sighs of beautiful boredom.
"I will not entertain you, Beautiful Child, because I refuse to rob you of this wonderful moment of grace and splendor. What is life, except the time that we are living? You are alive! You do not want to miss the best parts of your life because an adult has thoughtlessly structured all of your time, or to realize one day that they have flown past you as you stared zombie-like into an electronic screen. I will not keep you so busy or so passively entertained that you cannot reflect or dream or feel your own feelings.
"You don't realize what a gift your boredom is. I will not steal it from you."
She answered with another heaving sigh and a sarcastically charged eye-roll. But when I glanced in her direction later, I watched her lying across a beam of sunshine, swishing with her hands and making the dust motes dance like fairies in a heavenly beam. And I wondered what deep thoughts swam beneath her fluttering eyelashes.
She can thank me later for being the meanest mom in the whole entire world...like EVER!