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Unclassified Info: The luxury of being bored

June 06, 2011

It’s that time of year, the season when hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of kids around this country of ours utter three words that terrify parents.

“I am bored.”

If my calculations are correct, the initial onslaught of this phrase will begin to trickle out of children’s mouths with mind-numbing regularity any day now. And as much as we parents try to find activities for them like summer day camp, music lessons and our 15th trip to the zoo, we are helpless to stop these three words from torturing us from now until Labor Day.

To those of us with insanely busy lives, boredom seems like an ultimate luxury. Every day as I head down the Harbor Freeway toward the light-speed pace of my day job, I think of how glorious it would be to bask in the luxury of boredom — to wake up and not know exactly what to do with my day. Or the next.

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I sometimes picture myself on an empty beach with a stack of good books, a margarita and no cell phone reception. I’d get up at my leisure, walk down to the shoreline and let the incoming tide wet my toes. Or maybe I’d just sit and think for a while longer.

Ah, boredom. Of course, to achieve this state of nothingness, I’d need a clone to go to my Fortune 100 job so that my paychecks will continue to arrive. I will also require someone to do my laundry, pay my bills, clean my house, watch my kids and feed my turtle so I can preoccupy myself with slacking. Oh yeah, someone is also going to need to shop for margarita mix — after all, how else is my glass going to remain full while I am doing nothing under the shade of my striped umbrella?

Personally, I think kids get bored because they don’t know how good they’ve got it. But it’s not their fault. It is a rite of passage. I probably told my mom that I was bored several thousand times between kindergarten and sixth grade. And admit it, you probably said it a few times, too. Being bored is the childhood equivalent of death and taxes. It’s unavoidable.

So too is the inevitable role reversal. One minute you are the kid rolling his eyes at every stupid suggestion of how to fill your time. Then, in a flash, you are the parent, trying to convince your child that your suggestions aren’t stupid, while he or she stares back at you with utter contempt.

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