Kids beat summer boredom by falling down the rabbit hole

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August is the month that breeds heat, fleas, and boredom.

Like parents the world over, I pride myself on providing all the things our children could want, need or anticipating needing anytime soon. As a result, they have wide open spaces in which to run and roam, trees to climb, pets to play with, toys, games, electronics, a swing set, a basketball hoop, bicycles, scooters, a skateboard, Rollerblades, a volleyball net, a trampoline and a pool.

But it still comes to this point in the summer when they have done it all, seen it all, had it all and they are terrifically, terminally BORED.

Oh brother! (And sister too).

Trapped

So, here I am trapped with these poor, beleaguered children. What’s a mother to do?

While I’m thrilled that gas has come down to a “merely outrageous” rather than “totally out of the question” price, I won’t be driving all over four counties (and two states) in search of fun.

They want fun. They better be able to find it right here at home.

Thus, just when I thought that they were going to take bickering to an Olympic level, my children fell down the rabbit hole and found some fun.

Neighborly

Thank goodness for the neighbor boy. I’ve always liked that kid. My children recently spent a few hours at his house.

Neighbor boy, basically an only child now that his much older brothers have been out of the house for years, is skilled at entertaining himself as only an only can be. He was thrilled to show my children the little warren of blankets, toys, and who knows what else he had squirreled away UNDER his bed. He apparently crawls under there and spends many the happy hour curled up in the fetal position reading, dreaming, and playing. He termed this his “rabbit hole.”

(I’ve wondered if he perhaps misheard his mother’s reference to his bedroom as a “rat hole” but at this point it’s any port in a storm — or any solution to chronic boredom — so I’m not one to split hairs. Or hares).

Inspired, my children spent one overcast day this week not wheedling, not whining, not begging to have a playmate or six over to swim, play and eat me out of house and home. They didn’t poke, prod, or bicker and nobody had to be “first.” Why, it was almost like not having children home at all.

Instead, they spent a blissful afternoon emptying the linen cupboard of every last sheet, blanket, and pillowcase. They pulled rugs up off the floor. They willingly cleaned underneath their beds. They worked together in perfect harmony and shortly before dinnertime they invited me to the unveiling. The debut of their own little rabbit holes!

They had worked together, swapping resources and trading ideas. They each had little nests of blankets, piles of toys, and even small “tables” fashioned of blocks under their respective beds. They had decorated the “ceilings” by taping pictures and trading cards to the underside of their box springs.

Was it darling? Oh no. It was a hot mess. But never have I seen them so proud.

Our daughter had dragged an old chalkboard down from the playroom and painstakingly printed “welcome to my rabbit hole” before propping it against the bed. You know good advertising is always so important to a successful open house right?

Success

The children were quiet, entertained, and felt a deep sense of accomplishment with what they had created. Moreover it was fun, free, and required no electricity, batteries, or parental referee whatsoever.

Most importantly, neither one of them was “bored” for a full six hours. Isn’t it amazing like a little imagination will do for you?

Sure my house is a wreck and I may never find my good hand towels and one bath mat that I suspect are still under a bed somewhere. So we stand on a bare floor and drip. Whatever.

The other night I discovered our son sound asleep in his nest. By “discovered” I mean I saw his feet poking out from under the bed. There he was, curled up in his “rabbit hole.” A book by his head, still open to the page he was reading when he nodded off. No television. No radio. No video games in sight.

Sometime between now and the start of the new school year my Overbearing Mommy Mode will kick in again and I’ll probably demand we clean up a bit. Until then, however, I like to see creativity at work — and play.

Sometimes, much like Alice in Wonderland, to really find the fun in life you might have to use your mind, stretch your imagination, and fall down the rabbit hole, too.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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