Today is the official last day of school for two of my four children. Thanks to the wonderful winter weather up here in northeast Michigan rearing its ugly head, the school season had to be extended by several days to make up for the multitude of school days missed because of snow and ice.
Only hours remain until the smoggy diesel sound echoes through the neighborhood and that big yellow bus full of excitable youth pulls up to the corner for the last time. As the school season comes to an end and summer break approaches, I start to feel this wrenching in my gut. Unlike many of my parental peers, I loathe the end of school and the beginning of the dog days of summer.
By noon tomorrow, the phrase, “I’m bored”, will be repeatedly uttered nearly every day for about one hundred days. I can plan and coordinate only so many art projects, bike rides, playground visits, trips to the beach, or fishing trips in a week. Somehow it is never enough, and sooner or later, those words will slip from one or more of my children’s mouths, “I’m bored”!
I cringe at the sound of my children’s voice as they repeat those dreadful words that scratch at my eardrums like fingernails dragging across a blackboard. The sad puppy dog eyes and moping faces do little to garner an ounce of my empathy for their pleading to entertain them.
“Go outside and play”, I say.
Our yard and shed are filled with every type of outdoor toy you could imagine. There is a sandbox outside filled with a plethora of toys, and a playhouse with kitchen supplies of all kinds to make imaginary pies and cakes. We have bikes, trikes and scooters of all shapes, sizes and number of wheels. There are Frisbees, balls, bats and rackets.
“But I don’t want to do that, dad, it is too hot”, they pout!
They droop across the couch and sag somber in the recliner, flipping through the cartoon channels and movies. Since going outside, my next suggestion to cure their boredom is to shut off the television and dig into the arts and crafts. In my office, there are three small plastic totes and one huge, four-drawer filled with markers, colored pencils, paints, brushes, scissors and glue. We have a surplus of paper, recycled cardboard, cups, yarn and jewels. There is nearly everything a budding artist needs to keep themselves busy for days on end creating. But their lack of interest and unmoving eyes locked on the television is answer enough…
“But I don’t want to do that, Dad”, the respond in petulant silence.
The park always snaps them out of their passive resistance to my efforts to cure their boredom. “Give me a few minutes to finish up my work and we will walk to the park”, I spout. But no, the park two blocks away just won’t do. The protests begin and the obstinacy continues. They want to travel across town to the park we have not been to in weeks, pack a lunch and head out on a road trip to someplace miles away, or spend the day at the beach.
“But the park in town is no fun, and we always go there, Dad”, they protest.
By now my patience are starting to wear thin, what ever writing project I have to get done, the little one has the “HOLD ME’s” and seriously needs a nap. What is worse, it is not even 11:30am.
And, as if on queue, I hear the screech of brakes, the growl of a diesel engine and the flash of dingy yellow slowing at the corner, and the raucous howls of excited youth. Oh, yes, I dread the return of the loathsome days of summer.