You learned really quickly in our home never to utter those two words to my mother.
Well, I guess there are several pairs of words you should never speak aloud to my mom, Jennie Watson. But the ones I’m referring to are “I’m bored.” She swiftly presented you with a toilet brush and a vacuum cleaner and put you to work doing her least favorite two jobs around the house. And there was no arguing back with her either.
The damage had already been done. The cure for boredom was making the house spotless.
She reacted the way many moms do, “You have a bedroom full of toys. You have a Nintendo (this was pre-Wii and Xbox). You have all kinds of movies you can watch (this was pre-Netflix). You have acres and acres of land to play outside in. Why are you bored?”
For me, boredom wasn’t necessarily because I had nothing to do. I was quite content riding bikes in the morning and reading all afternoon. For me, the boredom hit when it was too hot to be outside comfortably and I was sick to death of seeing the inside of my bedroom. Also, it meant my sister wouldn’t stop pestering me so I could read whether Margaret’s prayers were answered or if Wilbur was saved from slaughter.
A change of scenery from time to time is all I needed sometimes to save me from a summer of ennui.
I guess I never grew out of that.
I still want activities planned at least once a week to break the monotony. Of course, these days I’m planning activities suitable for my 19-month-old, Sophie.
On the Wednesdays I’m off work, we go to story time at the Dalton-Whitfield County Library, which begins at 11 a.m. My daughter was the one mooing at and pointing to the Chick-fil-A cow a few weeks ago while Ms. Karol tried to read a story about gardening. I’m glad Ms. Karol understands that 19-month-olds benefit from story time, even if they aren’t able to sit still for that long yet.
But I wanted something to do besides sit around the house on Fridays. One week I asked Mom, who is off on Fridays during the summer, to come help me finger paint with Sophie. I needed an extra set of hands that didn’t resemble a Smurf’s.
We stripped Sophie down, put a disposable diaper (I use cloth most of the time) and some flip-flops on her and took her out in the yard with a small table, paper and paint. She loved it.
She painted two pieces of paper, her Nana’s hands and her own stomach and chest, as well as a few magnolia leaves.
Then we let her splash around in the kiddie pool until she was ready for a nap.
Fun Friday with Nana was born. It’s a tradition we didn’t mean to start, but we’re so glad we did.
We’ve been to the pool and the Tennessee Aquarium. Of course, Sophie was more interested in climbing on the benches around each corner at the aquarium after she had seen the first tank with fish. But we still had fun.
We’ve also got plans to play on the beach at Fort Mountain State Park, visit the Chattanooga Zoo, the Creative Discovery Museum and do more arts and crafts together. And there are so many more things I run across that I want to do when she’s a little older.
If your children are screaming they’re bored this summer, you could hand them the broom and make them clean your house. And then try planning an activity to get them out of the house.
They’ll appreciate the memories you’re making together.
I know I do.
Murray County native Misty Watson is a photographer and writer for The Daily Citizen. You can share your cures for summer boredom with her at email@example.com and facebook.com/MistyWatsonDCN or on Twitter, @mistydwatson.