Not just me, but everyone I know, is so anxious to fill their day, plan every hour if possible. The day should be productive (let me state right here how much I hate that word). There has to be a long list of items to be rattled off to the question: “What did you do today?” If, by chance, one has a few minutes to spare, it should be spent on something worthwhile, or at the very least, self entertainment.
Lunch time at work is spent checking personal emails, daily commute would be the best time to make calls and keep in touch with friends, walking or jogging accompanied by music, the interval between hitting the bed and falling asleep with books, waiting in a line at the library or the grocery store can be made productive by checking FB or news or something.
Multi-tasking is the new norm. Don’t you believe me? It’s on every job requirement posted online. To move from one chore to next, from one email to another, one appointment to subsequent one, makes a soul feel accomplished. Every weekday is routine, from work to chore to child to dinner to sleep. Every weekend is filled with activities, parties, family time and all the rest. Freetime filled with books, music, movies or sports.
All this planning and productivity has taken away something so significant from us, and the worst part is that we have not even noticed it gone. That, my friends, is simply atrocious. This thought struck me on a recent weekend, when I experienced something so novel, I was flabbergasted and paralyzed.
A lunch plan fell through and guests did not show up. My laundry was done, kitchen and whole house clean (due to the aforementioned guests), plants watered, emails checked and calls returned. It was pouring cats and dogs, discouraging any outings. There was nothing, nothing on T.V. I browsed for a few hours, catching up on friends’ blogs and news. I played castle, kitchen and puzzles with my daughter. Colored some more. And then … And then I got…
I did not know what to do. I had nothing to do.
Boredom. Hmm... I said the word a couple of times as it felt unfamiliar. Then I thought of how many synonyms I can come up with- five: tedium, lassitude, ennui, doldrums, and languor
I thought some more about it, trying to decide whether I liked it or not.
And then I realized something else. Not only do adults fill their lives with ‘productive’ (did I mention I hate that word?) activities, they have done so with their children too. And I’m, too, guilty as charged. I plan my daughter’s day with meticulous care. From her playtime to naptime, her creative time to meal time, she goes from one thing to next. Travel time is also ‘productive’ with word games and rhymes. As a last resort, she will also be given cartoon time and iPhone game time, to avoid boredom.
I recently had a very weird conversation with my husband where we discussed letting her stay with her grandparents for summer. I was worried that she will fall out of routine and will have trouble getting back to school. *Headdesk*
Did I really say that? Am I so old (*gulp*) that I don’t remember my summers, that were filled with nothing? NOTHING!
Summer camp! Bah! In summers, I was left to my own devices. I climbed trees, stole mangoes, collected peacock feathers, waded streams, caught bugs, made mud pots, found henna leaves, tasted local flora and fauna, and in my teens, moved on to exploring the storage rooms for antiques, sketching people, gossiping with girls, putting on plays, cooking abysmal food, experimenting with herbal concoctions.
All of that because I was bored and my parents did not tell me how to fill my time.
The burden on entertainment fell on me. And being an inexperienced kid/teen, the planning fell way short of keeping me busy. Thus, I came up with so many things to entertain myself.
As for travel, my childhood travel consisted of looking out the window, staring at the scenery and watching other travelers. I figured out most of the traffic rules by the time I was five, learnt about the position of the sun in relation to the direction we were traveling when I was six, I had an excellent sense of rough, unsafe roads versus well-lit safe ones by seven. And I did learn a lot about body language through all the people watching.
The above activities were results of sheer boredom. Not one productive thing was achieved though them. I feel like I’m depriving my daughter of something by not letting her to be bored. She has all her time and activities planned by me.
That is not good, not good at all. I felt a little irresponsible doing this, but I guiltily curbed the voice screaming “You will ruin her!” and left her to her own devices one evening. No instructions about what she should play or do or watch.
And the most amazing thing happened- I got to see what she is like. I got to see what she likes.
I met my daughter.