Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Bored to Tears


Me at Normandy Beach Summer 1963

I can’t recall the last time I was bored. As a grownup, my days have been chock-full of happenings. Even doing the simplest things, I am pondering life’s persistent questions (Why is it that I don’t mind loading the dishwasher, but detest unloading it? They are the same dishes!) And there’s been plenty of excitement around here—multiple ER visits with multiple kids. The time a tree almost crashed through our window. The night Julie’s hermit crab escaped from its cage and ended up down the hall in a shoe, in a closet. I could go on and on!

So when I do look back, the stretches of sheer boredom I endured as a child seem like forever ago, instead of a mere 50 years. But the mind-numbing feeling has stayed with me. I know that parents today are admonished for not letting their over-scheduled offspring be bored once in a while. In theory, those idle hours are good for them, resulting in a veritable incubator of brilliant ideas. But I’m here to tell you—that wasn’t how it worked for yours truly.

I first remember being bored when I was about four. We (two parents and three little girls) lived in an apartment in Manhattan at the time. I wasn’t in school yet (kindergarten was not a universal concept back then), so I spent my days hanging aimlessly around, extremely bored, listening to my mom on the kitchen phone with her parade of mom friends. Not much in the way of playdates was ever arranged, so their children were probably also pretty bored, trapped in their own apartments, listening to incomprehensible grownup chatter.

Nana Cunningham and Aunt Rose rented a cottage in Normandy Beach, NJ every summer, and used to invite my sister Mo and me down for a week. It was a lovely gesture, and even now I feel like an ingrate for saying it, but those weeks were, hands down, the most boring I have ever experienced. Both Nan and Rose slept late every morning, long after us kids were awake. Nana used to actually pay us to stay in bed ($5 each per day). Eventually we’d head to the ocean, where we weren’t allowed to play in the waves. All too soon, we’d pack up and return to the cottage for the rest of the day. I was a big reader, but there were no age-appropriate books around, so at nine years old, I was puzzling my way through the plot twists and romantic encounters in Hotel and Airport.

The result of all those unscheduled hours? I became an obsessive clock watcher, the hands of which never seemed to move. No cures for cancer or symphonies to show for all that time spent doing nothing.

I’m so busy now that I occasionally wish I had time to BE a little bored. But then I remember the months-long days of my childhood, and I thank the good Lord that I’m an adult. Down with boredom, I say!

There's never been a dull moment with this crew!

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