“What did I hear you say?”
“I said I was bored.”
“Bored? BORED? You’ve got a room full of toys and you’re telling me you’re bored? If I hear that you are bored again, I’ll give you something to do. Did you practice the piano today? In fact, grab a towel you can dry the dishes right now.”
And so plays a significant, but infrequent drama in the LaPlaca household. We might whisper or mouth the forbidden word on housework Saturdays or on long car trips, but we rarely said the “B” word out loud because my parents had itchy fingers for when it came time to fire-off a round of chores. We thought “bored” was a swear word until we got out of the house more.
My parents were never bored, or at least that’s how it seemed to me. My mom is of the firm opinion that you cannot be bored in a world full of good books, and, when we were little, she would sing the Mr. Roger’s ditty: “Just think of something to do, while you’re wa-ai-ting, while, you’re wa-ai-ting,” an ear worm that strategically stuck deep into my memory. My dad had too many ideas and skills to have a bored moment. My parents expected the same industry of their children
Growing up, we were simply not allowed to be bored. And we weren’t, for the most part. Today, all of us are blossoming hobbyists with solid work ethics. D.J. reads books about house architecture, Lucy writes and illustrates her own comic strips and stories. Rob took up the banjo and collecting craft soda.
Summer of 2012
I was itching to go to college during my senior year of high school. I had transitioned out of regular schoolwork and was working part-time at my public library. The packing lists were written, my expectations were high, and I found myself at loose ends.
“It’s just,” I stammered to a coworker, “It’s just that I’m so ready for college and everything seems to be finishing up, and I feel,” I paused, wrapping my mouth around the unfamiliar word, “bored.”
“Julia, really, bored? But there are so many things to do!”
This guy was cut from the same cloth as my parents.
“You could learn how to do calligraphy or start learning a language,” he exclaimed.
I knew he was right, and I felt ashamed of being bored.
There, those are the two times I suffered from the “b” word in my life. Recently, I’ve found myself again in a strange anticipatory waiting stage of life—post college and pre-grad school. I’ve felt a new, uncomfortable encroachment of adult boredom, which sounds a bit like this:
[Whiny Me] But it’s just so easy to come back from my work that I do NOT particularly enjoy and just sit like a mindless blob in front of my computer. Why plan something social when all my friends have busier, more interesting lives. Why not just kill thirty minutes by clicking random links?
[The More Well Adjusted Me] You should be ashamed of yourself!
I am! But adult life is inescapably boring—paperwork, writing cover letters, waiting to get your oil changed, droning meetings. I tell you, Netflix has destroyed my attention span.
Ok, true. But, hey! Remember this one from the vaults: “Just think of something to do while you’re—”
I can’t forget that one.
Because you’ve got a brain that remembers stuff—you really have no excuse to be bored. Think about it. Mom and Dad didn’t seem bored because they had so many interests. There are just few things in this world that do not interest them.
Also, you should take the opportunity to learn something new or brush up on something old. Go to that volunteer thing at church. Practice French. Start a book club. There’s nothing stopping you but sloth.
Oh, so now you’re pulling the seven deadly sins card.
You need it! Now that you know life is boring, get better at preparing for it. Come armed with ideas to think about, a book to read.
Yeah, yeah, you’re right
What did I hear you say?
I said You’re RIGHT! Happy? Sheesh, You’re getting to sound like Mom and Dad.
Well, duh. Where do you think I got all this stuff? Now go, “invest in many ventures,” and think of something to do while you’re waiting.
After a trial-by-fire year as public school substitute teacher and fly-by-night freelancer, Julia will shed the tribulations of the work-world to embark on a MA in art history and museum studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. If you are in town, she’ll gladly take you to a local museum. She enjoys walks, leopard print, and good conversation.