Let’s talk about boredom…..yawn, yawn, yawn…. yes let’s.
Do we huffty?
Yes we huffty.
(The ‘Tuffty Cub’ in many of my schools, had nothing to do with Tufty the famous squirrel. Our ‘Tuffty Club’ members consisted of those children we teachers found it ‘tough tae’ disabuse of the habit of using the following particular contractions:
‘Please Miss, uffty tell you, yuffty take yer class to the hall fur assembly’.
(Being right in the middle of a ‘particularly absorbing’ lesson, I would smile wryly at the messenger (with whom I had tried, many a time and oft, to correct the persistent ‘uffties’) sigh inwardly and mutter through clenched teeth, ‘Oh no…. do we really huffty?’
‘Please Miss, youzuffty come right now….’n’ wuffty bring wur chairs.’)
Deep joy ……….
I remember my father going ‘off on one’ when a younger sibling declared that she was ‘bored’.
‘You’re what?!! Bored? I’ll give you bored! What age are you? Eight? All of eight years on this earth and you’re BORED!!! Well get yourself ‘unbored’ before I give you something to do….!!!’……
The word ‘bored’ never came up again! We may have continued to feel bored at times but we never complained……but after some ‘boredom’ we always found something to do and that, my dear friends, is because we had time to think for ourselves….. time just… to be……..
to think our very own thoughts and dream our very own dreams. As a youngster, I didn’t realise just how precious this thinking time was….just how essential it was to ‘be bored’. I know now that, during those ‘boring episodes,’ I had time and space to breath more deeply and think more clearly…… time to enjoy my own company…… where no one was telling me what to do, what I should have done or what I needed to be doing next.
Advice was aplenty if we looked to be ‘doing nothing’…..
‘Outside!’ Mater would say, ‘outside and play!”
I loved the good weather so there was always something fun to do with ropes, or balls or whips and peeries, peever, team games and ‘shots on bikes’….. until there would be a row and the bike/peever/rope or ball owner would remove her/himself (and key possession) temporarily from the action and the ‘gemm’ would be a ‘bogey’!
I remember once stomping into the house ‘in a huff’ declaring that I wasn’t going back out to play. Was I comforted, petted or engaged in debate? Was I dookie!! I was given a stone of ‘Ayrshires’ to scrape and told to pick my chin up off the floor (‘before the wind changes and that scowl becomes permanent!’) and steered over to the kitchen sink where a murky pool of cold water harboured a stone, at least, of ‘bool’-sized potatoes.
‘Now, scrape.!….. don’t peel!’
Temper (bad, but under control!) fuelled my knife wielding skills through the first couple of dozen ‘hateful’ tatties, but soon my mind would begin to wander as I ploughed my way through the watery field…. ‘Little Tattie Tales’ would be sparked off in my mind’s eye by the variety of shapes, the black eyes in the flesh, the surprising discovery of black holes inside, what appeared from the outside,to be perfectly unblemished specimens…..
‘Are you talking to yourself in there?’ (Mater).
‘No!’ (Me, completely unaware that I’d actually been overheard).
‘Well then, get a move on and watch that temper!….’
What Mater didn’t know was, that I had already formed a cunning plan to avoid all future encounters with unscraped tatties (it never ever worked!) as well as drafting the first chapter of my best seller (see above) and managed, somehow or other, to remember where I’d hidden the empty Mansion Polish tin (which, when filled with the correct amount of quality dirt would set me on my path to world domination in the *Peever Stakes….) Of course I didn’t realise it at the time (nor did Mater!) but I’d been given an opportunity to ‘meditate’. Let’s face it, scraping potatoes requires very little concentration and practically no skill at all so I had time to let my mind ‘wander’. Since I lived B.C (before computers et al) I wasn’t crowding my mind with other peoples’ ideas of what I should be doing, like texting, playing fast and furious games on screen, watching boxsets, taking selfies, finding out how many people hate/love me, group chatting, holding never ending ‘phone conversations at table, on the street, on public transport, in bed, in the loo – and yes I do realise this is the world our younger generations have inherited and, that although in this post internet world, it would seem ‘easier’ to resist ‘boredom’, we continue to hear that mournful wail – ‘I’m bored!’- from so many youngsters.Why?
This boredom seems to set panic among carers that they are ‘failing’ their charges…….. ‘Must enrol them in extra activities – dancing, singing, football, martial arts, swimming…. every spare moment to be taken up with another activity. Adults, similarly, don’t like to admit to not being ‘busy busy’ – it’s cool to be ‘busy’ (‘Look how I am contributing to the world…I am of value….) But wouldn’t a quiet night or two or three, at home with just family members (no technology!) provide a necessary breathing space for everyone…. help value each other for who they are….just chill…..chill…chill.
Children need to know, however, that this ‘doing nothing’ is OK!……they need the stillness to discover their own imagination, they need time and space just to be….. to find themselves….. in the dark recesses of their over stimulated minds and perhaps discover why they ‘are bored’, what it is they would really like to do and so learn to make up their own minds about what is important/enjoyable/satisfying to them.
I loved it when the teacher would say, ‘Put your heads on the desk for a few minutes’…..
Now you and I both know that she/he was the one who wanted some peace and quiet – and I don’t believe they (or we) realised what a favour they were doing us…..a few minutes of ‘boredom’ which seemed in some strange way to revive the mood in the classroom….. well maybe nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, but whether it was scraping tatties for Mater or being permitted to do ‘nothing’ by the teacher these adults seem to have had an instinct for slowing us down, giving us a breather, cooling us off, changing the pace, letting us ‘stew’……
Nowadays there are loads of classes and opportunities which help to induce and aid relaxation – at a cost of course – but there is much we can do to help our youngsters realise their very own potential before they become hopelessly sucked into the whirlwind of a virtual life. There is a balance to be struck.
Am I wrong in thinking that children, nowadays, seem to be hurtling through childhood at a crazy pace or am I just another old fogey that ‘bores the drawers’ off people with my ‘Tattie Tales’ and ‘Songs of Yesteryear’……well….too bad…….I’ve given the matter serious thought…and since it is something I enjoy doing…. you, dear reader, will just ‘huffty lumpit!!!’ x
‘We cannot change the direction of the wind – but we can adjust our sails.’
Sat in a corner,
His fingers were numb,
Likewise was his bum,
And his battery’d started to fail.
His panic grew larger
As he searched for his charger,
Yet no one took heed of his plight
For each head was bent
Google-eyed with intent
O’er their screens which were dazzling and bright.
So Little Jack Horner,
Went back to his corner,
Looked around with a much clearer eye,
‘Lift your heads up and SEE!
Shut the ‘phones up and BE!
Let’s talk NOW and share with me, my pie!’