Three days in a row, my dear daughter flopped down beside me and announced, “I’m bored.”
“Let’s watch a movie,” I said, grinning. Hooray! Our “Little Women” moment had finally arrived!
“Naw,” she replied. Shoot.
“Wanna play cards?”
“Read a book?”
“I do lots of reading,” she said.
“Texting doesn’t count,” I said. “Walk the dog?”
She sighed. So did the Big Red Dog.
“Call so-and-so to hang out?”
“Mom!” By the third day I even suggested she plan a party and invite all of her friends. Which would have involved actual housework on my part. But no dice. I think she even mumbled something about me needing to mind my own business as she walked away. Whatever.
There’s this thing some moms do where we kinda hold our breath and hover at the perimeter of each day, sorta there-but-not-there, just in case the adolescents in our lives need us (it happens), or, dare-I-say, want to hang with us (equal parts pathetic and opportunistic – it’s a skill). But two weeks is a long time to hold your breath. It’s a marathon. NOW I understand my friends’ penchants for planning “get-outta-Dodge,” umbrella-drink-in-hand moments, and mission trips to warmer climes during winter break. (But you’re killing me with the Facebook pics, people. Have you seen our weather?) Possessed with my own mission, to catch this fleeting week and make a memory with my kids before it completely slips through my fingers and they slip back into school mode, I pounced upon an idea.
“Hey, Noah, let’s – “I began, while he not so subtly checked his phone for a better offer. Yes, things are as they should be, I decided, as I lamented once more that we forgot to do something “meaningful” with this week, reassured myself that there will be others and – yeah – texted my own friends, visions of bonding and board games dancing in my head. While I waited for their reply, I wondered, what’s up with this “bored” stuff, anyway? I know Holly’ll survive it (and maybe even become so desperately bored that she creates her own fun, yadda yadda. Yeah, I got the memo), but maybe “bored” isn’t exactly the right word? Whatever it is, I’ve been feeling it, too. It’s sort of a disconcerting, untethered feeling, a we-must-be-so-used-to-being-overscheduled-that-we-can’t-appreciate-a-plotless-day-for-the-gift-that-it-is sort of mood – right? For which there really is no just-right word? No, that’s not quite it.
But there IS a just-right meme, and it’s floating around the Internet right now, and it describes this wonky weirdness perfectly. Maybe you saw it. The picture of the three stick figures? The first is depicted as feeling “Festive” until Dec. 26. Yay! Presents! Pie! People I never see but once a year! The caption on the third stick figure (more bloated than stick, actually) is “Fat.” But the one in between, who’s just hangin’ out and chillin’ during that wonky week between the festivities of Christmas and New Year’s? The caption reads:
“Confused, full of cheese, unsure of the day of [the] week.” Ha! That’s IT! Noah laughed when I showed it to him. I found Holly downstairs on the couch, her mouth full of saltines, and she giggled, too, as she poked at the computer screen.
“That’s exactly it,” she said, grinning. (I was right! It’s not boredom, after all. Sshh. We can’t let her know that I GOT her, even for a moment, as it might upset the angsty balance in my-parents-don’t-get-me, and God-forbid-they-do-’cause-that-would-be-weird land.)
Seems I was also right about that whole boredom-breeds-brilliance stuff. My girl is SO creative. Totally knows how to make her own good time. Indeed, after she stopped poking at the computer screen, she perched another saltine between her lips and showed me her latest trick, sharing it with the Big Red Dog. Seems he has forgiven her. Yeah, those umbrella flaunters can kiss it, ’cause we are rockin’ it over here. For her next trick, I just know Holly’s bound to create a nonprofit-that-helps-someone-somewhere, but this week, we’re full of cheese. Pass the crackers!
• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband and their two children. Her column runs regularly in the Weekend Life section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at email@example.com.