Nowadays I don’t have time to be bored. My two older kids, on the other hand, often complained that they are bored if they can’t spend time on the iPad. This summer, we are limiting their screen time to weekend only. We didn’t sign them up for any summer camp. In addition to avoiding the ridiculous cost, we wanted to give them the summer to relax. We don’t want to overwhelm them with activities after activities. Reading is my only encouragement. Other than that, they can just be bored.

In retrospect, boredom was good for me. It helped me discovered things around me that I would not have if I was always busy doing something. My summers were extremely boring. I had no friends and no activities. My mom and I lived in a tiny apartment in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She spent most of her time in the kitchen while I watched TV until I was bored out of my mind. Fortunately downtown was only a few blocks from our apartment. When I got bored in the apartment, I wondered around the farm market just to checkout fresh fruits, vegetables, and pies or just walked around Woolworth (remember that?) looking at things that I had no need or desired. I also stopped at the magazine stand in CVS looking for articles on Vanilla Ice. How bored you have to be to do that sort of things?

The public library was also a few blocks from our apartment. Even though I hated reading, I was so bored that went to the library to see if I can learn something from books. Unfortunately, I would fall asleep every few minutes and then just close the book. One time I worked up my courage to speak to an older white man who was intensely reading. I just wanted to practice my English. When I found out that he was a retired English teacher, I wanted to be friend with him so he could teach me English. I could not remember exactly how it happened, but I can still recall going over to his house. As we walked from the library to his house, he would pick up any trash on the sidewalk and street. I was touched by his action. When we got to his house, I can’t recall what we were doing, but I only stayed for about twenty minutes or so. Fortunately, he was not a pedophile. These days, imagine a little kid walking home with a stranger. How crazy is that?

Time has changed. Being bored nowadays is not an option. Kids have to do all kind of activities from swimming competition to chess club to music lesson to math. We robbed them the opportunity to be bored and to discover their own passion. Let’s them be bored so they can do something about it.