Why boredom is good for kids

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My son came up with bug headbands for a birthday party made from pipe cleaners, styrofoam balls and lots of glue and glitter. The kids looked adorable. He also got to wear a birthday crown.

Thanks to a post yesterday by LA called Boredom, I remembered I had written about the subject years before. I dusted it off and updated my thoughts on being bored and how boredom boosts creativity.

Do you remember being bored as a kid? I do. But it didn’t last. I could go outside when we lived in town and ask a neighbor to play. Or, I’d jump on my bike and ride around the block. I run to the lot where a brown quarter horse lived. I’d climb on the fence to pet the white strip that ran down his nose. Most of the time I’d read, or play library and create library cards for all my books and arrange them by author on my bookshelves. Boredom just wasn’t a thing. Our mom was strict about TV. She allowed two half-hour shows daily that she circled in the TV Guide — and they were usually on PBS.

When we moved out to the country and we didn’t have close neighbors to play with, I would lay on the grass and watch the clouds.

These days, many kids never experience boredom because they lose themselves in their screens. They don’t know what it’s like to have to use their imaginations and find something creative to do. I don’t think it’s helping them to be entertained externally all the time. I wrote about promoting a creative spirit in kids last week, here and here.

Without creativity and an imagination, our kids won’t be problem solvers or discover new ways of doing things. If your kids are bored, so what? It’s okay. Ignore the whining and let them figure it out.

 In the Sarasota Herald Tribune, parenting experts Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman wrote Allow your kids to embrace boredom

 Have you noticed that our generation of parents is terrified of letting our kids become bored? Their anxiety is what drives them to pack a boatload of amusement options when they leave the house.

A few years ago, a waiter at a restaurant in North Dakota told us about a trend in his community. One local mom had created a custom quilted bag for holding multiple tablets so that every member of the family could be distracted and amused while they waited for their meal. It was wildly popular, he said.

Not only is our society’s pervasive reliance on amusement killing conversation and opportunities to connect and build relationships, it’s also preempting opportunities for boredom. Boredom is important for building imagination, creativity and innovation in our kids. Of course we can’t force these things into our children but we can set up an environment that will support the journey.

When we allow our kids to grapple with boredom on their own, rather than providing for them structured activities or distractions and amusements, imagination and creativity may come to their rescue!

“It is possible for boredom to deliver us to our best selves,” said author Nancy Blakey. “If we sit still long enough, we may hear the call behind boredom. With practice, we may have the imagination to rise up from the emptiness and answer.”

If we provide our kids with a constant stream of amusement options, which includes a plethora of extracurricular activities, we rob them of the opportunity to explore the open space in their own minds where the imagination hides.

They make a good point about having a structured schedule. With piano, swimming and homework, there wasn’t a lot of time for my kids to get bored during the school year. The summers gave them more hours for imaginative play. Swim meets also gave them time for creativity. They would sit under a pop-up tent for hours with their teammates. We’d be at a meet for five or six hours and they’d race for only a few minutes here and there. I remember observing some very creative verbal word games.

According to the article, the authors suggest having bins and jars filled with all sorts of things in easy reach for your kids like popsicle sticks, fabric, string, paints, googly eyes, papers of different colors and textures, glues, etc. Their suggestion:

Then let your kids get good and bored. Don’t offer many suggestions. Simply say, “Oh, there are lots of things you could do. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.” It may take time but eventually their imaginations will awaken and lead them to new horizons.

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The bug headbands made an appearance at several birthdays.

What are your thoughts about boredom? 

Thoughts on cancelling student debt

UC Santa Barbara lagoon
One of the most beautiful campuses ever. UC Santa Barbara where my son went to school.

I want to know what your thoughts are about cancelling student debt. The current administration is considering cancelling $10,000 per debt holder. Some are pushing for $50,000.

Personally, I believe a contract is a contract. If you cancel a loan for college, why stop there? Why not cancel mortgages, car loans and credit card debt? Of course, for those loans there is the option to file for bankruptcy. But not with student loans. Maybe that law should be overturned?

What does this say to those who chose to enlist in the military to help pay for their education? Or those who chose community college not to mention those who paid their loans? What about people who entered into trades like electricians, contractors, plumbers and hair dressers? Should they be paying for a doctor or teacher who has a ton of debt?

The point is the debt doesn’t magically go away. It gets passed on to the rest of us. Many universities have huge foundations. I’m not against the institutions forgiving debt. They could do it.

What do you think? If you disagree with me, please let me know what I’m missing. I truly want to know other points of view. What solutions do you suggest for overwhelming student loan debt?

What to do about obnoxious sports parents

diving off the blocks
My daughter diving during at a swim meet where the swimmers were selected from So Cal teams.

As a swim parent, I saw my share of obnoxious swim parents. And I had my own moments of not being able to contain myself — although not to the point of punching a ref out — or yelling at a coach.

I saw so many parents taking over their kids’ sports, coaching from the stands, and yelling at their children when they had a less than awesome swim, that I wrote weekly articles with sports parenting tips. You can read them on SwimSwam Parent Tips on my blog or on SwimSwam HERE.

We hear about “those” parents in the news. Their videos of violence on the field or gym go viral.

I saw an article today that had the perfect solution. Duct tape.

Here’s an excerpt from the NY Post’s “The solution to obnoxious sports parents? Duct tape” by  Kyle Smith:

Last July, a woman on a flight from Dallas to Charlotte bit a flight attendant, then tried to open a door to the plane while screaming. Crisis was averted when she was duct-taped to her seat

An excellent start! Now let’s get out the duct tape for sports parents, who need to sit down, shut up and remember that Pee Wee football is not the Super Bowl. In Mississippi this month, an umpire presiding over a ballgame played by 12-year-olds was punched in the face and given a black eye by a woman wearing a Mother of the Year shirt who had been thrown out of the stands for cursing. “It gets harder and harder to staff these tournaments because no one wants to listen to the verbal abuse and run the risk of what happened to me happening to them,” the umpire, Kristie More, told WLBT

Like other forms of bad behavior (deaths in car crashes are way up), hyper-reactive-sports-parenting seems to have spiked during the pandemic, when tempers have been running as hot as Bidenflation. Even before that, anyone who was thinking about helping out the kids by signing up to be an umpire or a referee would have been smart to buy a Kevlar jacket and make sure his insurance was paid up. “There has been a huge drop off in the number of available referees and officials in youth sports due to the obnoxious behavior of parents,” Rick Wolff host of WFAN radio’s “The Sports Edge” told The Washington Post in 2020

https://nypost.com/2022/04/23/the-solution-to-obnoxious-sports-parents-duct-tape/

I highly suggest you read the article. It’s funny, but highlights what’s wrong with public discourse in today’s world.

What’s the most obnoxious thing you’ve seen parents do? What solutions do you have? Do you think things have gotten worse since the COVID shutdowns?

Use it or lose it!

Tuesday gray rainy day.
A gray rainy, stormy Tuesday.

I tried my first exercise class in years at the YMCA Monday. It was an hour-long class called “Barre Above.”

From the “Barre Above” website it says:

What is “barre”?

While many interpret barre workouts differently, most barre workouts are a fusion of yoga, Pilates, strength training, and ballet. Barre classes incorporate specific sequencing patterns and isometric movements that target specific muscle groups. This pattern of exercise helps to improve strength, balance, flexibility and posture.

https://www.barreabove.com/

I loved it. I caught myself smiling in the mirror even though getting through the class was a struggle. I took ballet as an adult from my 20s into my 50s. I stopped because the dance studio closed and the instructor moved. I didn’t find another studio that fit my schedule.

I love ballet. I began as a child and would never have stopped but my mom quit taking me. My ballet studio was close to an hour away from our small town. As I grew older, class went from once a week to two, then three and four. My mom stopped when I got my first pointe shoes and needed to be at rehearsal daily for a recital. One of my ballet slippers fell out of my ballet bag — and my mom grew impatient as I searched for it.

“You’re obviously not interested anymore,” Mom said. And that was that.

I don’t think parents in the 1970s were as obsessed with getting their kids to activities like many of us were in the 2000s and 2010s.

When I was a freshman at the University of Washington, I signed up for ballet my first quarter and fell in love with ballet again.

Back to Monday. I loved the class. I didn’t think I’d survive, but I made the entire hour. Then Tuesday morning hit. Yikes!

My husband gave me a hug as I struggled to get my legs underneath me. My shoulders were stuck around my ears. He heated up the lavendar-weighted shoulder wrap and I eventually got out of bed.

Tuesday, I had reserved a lane at the Y. Rain and thunder and lightening raged all night and morning. Then right before my lane time, the sun broke out. I checked my iphone and I had one hour until rain and thunder was supposed to return.

The sun hovered over the pool, while dark clouds circled like sharks. I had a “shake out” relaxing swim where my sore muscle pain eased. I got out early before the storm hit feeling quite proud of myself.

Since joining the YMCA, I learned that I am terribly out of shape. It’s time for me to use it or lose it!

The rain arrived after my sunny swim at the YMCA.

What sports or activities did you enjoy as a child that you continued into adulthood? Which ones did you stop? Did you take your kids to athletics or other activities while they were growing up? What was their favorite activity?

A New Low? Who Yells at Kids?

man love people woman
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I read an article yesterday about Girl Scout being harassed for selling cookies.

Seriously?

I wrote about being yelled at sitting at a booth registering voters HERE. If I was shaken up after being yelled at as an adult, can you imagine how a five or seven-year-old would feel?

The article was called “Girl Scout cookie sellers as young as 5 are being harassed for selling unhealthy food and a conspiracy theory about cookie money funding abortion” by Lela Moore on a website called Insider.

It turns out that young girls are being yelled at for selling cookies because “they make you fat” and they use “palm oil” that means forests are being destroyed. Then there are those who have linked Girl Scouts to Planned Parenthood because one local council had their Girl Scout logo on a Planned Parenthood brochure one time a decade ago.

Here’s an excerpt:

Girl Scout cookie season is upon us, and young saleswomen in uniform are everywhere: holding court in office boardrooms for an afternoon, manning booths outside the local grocery store, or posting cheery video messages on social media, offering door-to-door shipping. You may even have a Girl Scout under your own roof, filling your garage with cases of the chocolatey, caramelly, peanut-buttery goods. 

But Girl Scouts, and the women who lead their troops and volunteer with them during cookie season, say that the organization’s tradition of face-to-face sales is increasingly accompanied by customer harassment.

“I feel like in the last 10 years, and maybe especially since the pandemic, that people are getting even more aggressive with girls and the volunteers,” Oona Hanson, a Scouting parent in Los Angeles, said. 

https://www.insider.com/girl-scout-cookies-harassment-planned-parenthood-abortion-unhealthy-palm-oil-2022-2

Another thing the teen Girl Scouts have to endure is sexual harassment.

When I was in kindergarten, I joined Bluebirds, which was the youngest group of Camp Fire Girls. When it came time to sell the Camp Fire Mints — which were delicious by the way — my mom bought them all. She refused to let me go door to door selling mints. This was in the 1960’s. I was disappointed because it seemed fun to me. I’m sure Mom had her reasons, and she was very strict and overprotective.

What are your thoughts about Girl Scout Cookies? Has our society gone off the deep end with people yelling at the girls selling cookies outside grocery stores?

Day one of mom and grand-dog duties

Waffles at the ER vet
Waffles the pug not feeling so good.

I made it to the Bay Area to help my daughter who has COVID. I’ve been wondering how much help I can be, since I can’t be with her? If I can’t do much, I’m looking forward to quiet time alone writing.

So far, it turns out — more time than I thought.

I didn’t arrive until evening to my airbnb which is .2 miles from her apartment. The problem is she’s on quarantine and can’t leave her apartment. I’m not sure what the protocol is these days, but I can guarantee she hasn’t hit it yet.

She texted me a list of groceries. I asked if I could go to the Berkeley Bowl to get the items on her list. It’s one of my favorite places to go to when I visit the kids. This running errands will be a treat if it includes the Berkeley Bowl! I blogged about it HERE.

I picked up clam chowder and a salad for my own dinner and a few groceries for my airbnb mini-fridge along with her list. When I dropped off her groceries at her doorstep, we waved at each other through her window.

I walked back to the airbnb and sat to savor the Berkeley Bowl clam chowder. It’s so delicious. I called my son and we were talking about plans for tomorrow’s dinner. He may be recovering from foot surgery, but he doesn’t have COVID. We can be together in person.

That’s when I got a call from daughter asking me to take Waffles the pug to the ER. He’s been having issues with his tummy. I wrote about it HERE a few days ago. Waffles has been throwing up and hasn’t recovered from chicken bones. The animal ER won’t let my daughter with COVID inside.

I sat for more than two hours with Waffles in the waiting room. My daughter texted me the recent details since I was traveling from Arizona and not totally up to date. We — the vet, the vet’s assistant and my daughter on the phone — decided not to hospitalize Waffles last night, but to bring him back in the morning if he doesn’t improve.

I’m wondering what tomorrow’s role as mom and dog grandma will bring? What’s driving me crazy is to be so close to my daughter, but not being able to give her a hug.

Have you traveled to help your kids away from home? How have you helped? How have you helped family members with COVID?

My First Book Club

The Arctic Fury

Our neighborhood is opening up and getting back to normal. I was invited to join the book club by a neighbor.

Most of the women have been members for the length or our neighborhoods existence, which is 15 years. A couple of us are new and moved in during the shutdown.

The book I’m supposed to read is called “The Arctic Fury” by Greer MacAllister.

The copy on the back of the book says:

“Eccentric Lady Jane Franklin makes an outlandish offer to adventurer Virginia Reeve: take a dozen women, trek into the Arctic, and find her husband, Lord Franklin, and his lost expedition. Four parties have failed to find him, and Lady Franklin wants a radical new approach: put the women in charge.”

The book is based on a true story of Lady Jane Franklin’s tireless attempts to find her husband’s lost expedition.

Now here’s the problem. I have never been to book club before. I don’t know what to expect. I’m not getting into the book. I’m going to push through, but it’s not my cup of tea.

At least I know how to spell the word “Arctic.” Maybe it’s the title I don’t like, because when my son was in second grade he had to name the continents on a map. He didn’t get 100%. I talked to the teacher and wanted to know why she marked him wrong for “Artic.” Yes, I had him practice spelling the word wrong — and I argued with the teacher.

What do you do at book club exactly anyway?

Are you the member of a book club? How is it set up? Who selects the books? What do you do when you don’t like them?