MY seven-year-old daughter is slumped on her bed, frowning and hugging a soft toy because that’s the only thing in the world that loves her right now, she reckons. The rest of us can go to pot; ’specially the little brother who drools on her face and rips her posters.
Day four of the holidays and things are going downhill fast. If you have children, you get it.
If you don’t, one day you will. Today’s breaks from school are not like our breaks from school: we’ve spawned a generation of gimme-gimme kidlings who get Bored, with a capital B, faster than J-Lo can say butt. And the funny thing is, the more you give ’em to play with and do, the more Bored they get.
Like today. The daughter has just returned from a bootylicious sleep-over, where she had “the best fun” and “even forgot that mom and dad existed”.
Six minutes and seven seconds into her homecoming, she’s slouching on the couch, sticking out her bottom lip the way American adolescents have taught her to do on Hannah Montana. If it works on the telly, it’s gotta work with mom, right?
Wrong. I’m from the ’70s. I practically grew up with ox wagons. We had to make our own custard. We got R2 pocket money and came back from the cafe with sweets, chocolate, chips AND a juice. Our Barbie dolls didn’t talk or come with mini laptops. And our grannies made their clothes, not DKNY.
My kidling is a great gal and generally does her own thing – but when you’re surrounded by a Pandora’s Box of websites and adverts and stuff to do and buy, it’s hard to resist. And easy to get Bored.
In our day – why do I sound like my gran more often than not? – we shuffled around with boxes, a few dolls and the outdoors. If it was raining, we drew pictures and sometimes if it wasn’t raining, we still drew pictures.
Now, they want to photoshop the crayon artwork and then laminate it. They’re too full of scrapbooking and crafting fantasies that only the most industrious of mothers – the ones who can sew buttons and enjoy it too – would love.
I’ve tried the “when I was young” approach and it does work, eventually. But only after a few hours of long faces, by which time I’ve sprouted two more gray hairs and ended up at the DVD store for two hours of peace. Technology and lazy parenting are a dangerous cauldron and my kids get the short end of the stick.
But I’m a positive ray of sunshine type. If your offspring bleat about Boredom one more time, smile, nod and sympathise. Then give them a list of chores that sorely need doing. And include smelly stuff, like cat litter trays or manky-looking toilets.
Unfortunately, you’ll still be tossing kitty poo yourself and scraping the loo alone, but they’ll suddenly find a world of wonderful things to do that don’t involve you or a sulky pout.