Play doesn’t happen without boredom.
Think back to your own childhood. When did the really fun stuff happen? I bet it was when you were bored.
I remember one particularly painful afternoon when my parents dallied at the restaurant. I don’t know if the service was bad, if we were waiting to meet someone, or if they were just taking the meal slow. My sister and I were miserable. We were done talking. We’d read the menu over and over. We had already eaten. We probably even got dessert. We’d made numerous trips to the restroom (why do kids like to do that??). Anyways, we were D-O-N-E, done! But we still had to wait.
There was no DS.
My parents plied us with an extra soda, “Just a minute more.” We knew it was a lie! We peeled back our paper straw wrappers and made worms like mom taught us. You know? Scrunch it all up into an accordion and then drop a little liquid on it. It squiggles and wiggles like a worm. Okay, that took all of 30 seconds. I don’t know how I remember this day, but I do. Clearly. The tablecloth was burgundy. I squished my wet straw wrapper into a ball. Hmmm . . . a ball.
No iPhone app or iPad.
I took that salt and pepper shaker and created a goal. My sister got the idea and used the sugar packet holder and her soda glass. Let the game begin! I blew the wrapper with my straw. We were quiet. We were discrete. We were giggling like crazy. We learned there was a certain finesse to it. It took a little practice to get it to move right. We hyperventilated after a while. We laughed so hard we cried. The soda spilled. Game over.
But it was fun. And then we got to leave!
I don’t want my kids to miss these little moments. I do not always entertain them. They are not always happy that I do not entertain them. Yet, I enjoy seeing the whole process of turning boredom into something better. It happens in a matter of minutes with them, less and less as they get older. I don’t do it to torture my kids! I’m not talking about purposely stretching out time at the table so they play.
Not at all.
I’m just talking about not filling up all their time with something. Sometimes, it’s okay to start with nothing and let them make something happen on their own.
This post originally appeared on OCFamily.com.