Over the course of spring and summer breaks, my teenage kids found multiple ways to antagonize me. One of my daughter’s favorite complaints was, “I’m bored. There is nothing to do.” Of course, my response was always, “there’s plenty of things to do,” with a continuation of the myriad of ideas, tasks and other events in which she could partake. Ideally, she would have me take her mall shopping, cruising the beach strip, and ultimately become her sole entertainment planner and provider during her “vacation” period.
Suddenly, it had dawned on me that I was once the tyrannical 10-year old who “had nothing to do…” My dad’s exhausted reply to me then was, “Stand on your head and laugh.” That was, of course, at a time when television wasn’t quite as controversial and diverse as it is today. I can’t even begin to imagine the many channels my kids have at their disposal. I think I stopped count after 300-something. If movies aren’t on their menu, then they’ve got the ultimate in gaming audio – not only the Sony Playstation, but also the Sony III, X-Box, and many hand-held computer games as well.
Not being a house-recluse myself, I always preferred the great outdoors. Okay; we didn’t live on a mountainside, but our backyard was equally just as fun. Whether it was catching frogs, playing in tadpole-infested puddles, playing Frisbee or ball with the family dog, playing Marco-Polo, Redlight-Greenlight, Simon Says, softball, jump rope, hopscotch, bicycling, soccer, tether ball, roller-skating, volley ball, tennis, sprint-racing, or simply sitting on green, dewy grass – there were ample things to do.
Kids growing up in the 1970s despised rainy days. We didn’t have the cool conveyances that children have in modern society. Back then, if it rained – you’re “vacation” or “school in-service day” was shot. We actually had to find things to do with our time – like reading, drawing, and listening to music. If we were fortunate, we had some type of talent that we could indulge in – resorting to playing guitar, singing, painting or cooking. And yes, kids actually had to turn on a stove to cook the infamous Ramen Noodles. Today, microwave has made cooking a breeze. Specially marked packages of mac-n-cheese, and many other easy-to-cook foods are now microwavable. No longer do we have to wait forever for a quick snack. Mealtime is mere seconds away.
Television. Saturdays were the ultimate in animated television programming. I still recall wasting my morning sleep on 7am Saturday mornings just so I could go and watch Scooby-Doo. Because then, Saturday morning was the ONLY time kids could watch cartoons. During the remainder of the week, there were three channels – not including public television. And worst of all, if the President was holding a press conference, he was on ALL three channels. Needless to say, kids didn’t have the infinite viewing options then as they do today.
Phone. Years ago, we would have marveled at the now common “touch-tone” and “cordless” phone. Our minds would’ve been blown by global “walkie-talkies,” (now called cellular phones) – not to mention Internet access. Of course that was a different time though.
Swimming would’ve been one of my favorite pastimes. I said, “would have been,” because back then, families had to travel miles to get to the nearest public pool or swimming hole. At that time, commercial pool clubs were far and few between, and if you couldn’t afford a membership – well, then you had the rare pleasure of “running through a sprinkler” on hot, humid days. Even with our own private in-ground pool, my teenagers are sometimes “too tired” or “just don’t feel like swimming.” Modern generations of kids never cease to amaze me. Even with so many choices available to them, they still cannot seem to get “un bored.”
In conclusion, after all efforts have been depleted, I’d simply tell them to “Stand on your head and laugh.”