I have a sign on my classroom door that says “It’s OK to be bored sometimes.” It’s not because I’m a boring teacher (at least I hope not), but it’s because kids need to hear this. Kids don’t need constant entertainment and it’s unfortunate that they are growing up in a world that teaches them they do.
Thinking back to my own childhood, I remember being in awe of the things and people around me. I became a people watcher early on. We usually had something around to occupy ourselves with, but not always. We went along with our parents and were expected to behave. Sure, we got a little impatient sometimes and we whined a little. Tough patooties. Things had to be done and you had to go along.
But when I look back now, I am looking at childhood with rose colored glasses and with nostalgia. I can remember being very little, following mom around when she cleaned house. I remember her putting my toy box on the bed so she could vacuum underneath, and I can remember helping her fold laundry, her teaching me early on how to fold washcloths and find mates for socks.
We went grocery shopping on Saturday mornings, visiting most of the local stores for bargains. There was always something to look at in the stores. One time, I remember a lady was handing out potato chips with something called “dip” on them. They were delicious. My first taste of chip dip. I think the lady who handed them out was named “Flossie,” which was and is a funny name to me.
No offense to the Flossies out there.
I remember going to the furniture store with mom and grandma, playing amongst the new furniture arrangements while they browsed. I can recall treats on Friday nights; getting pizza carry-out at Dimaggio’s, made expertly by two brothers who had moved to our little town from Sicily. Then there was the old Dairy Queen when I was very little; we drove up and got out of the car. I remember visiting Dog N Suds (a grandfather to Sonic) and getting in trouble because I leaned out the car window and pushed the order button. Then there was the automatic car wash that would squirt water as we drove out and I would always remark that it was “peeing” on the car, just to make my mom laugh.
Errand running with my dad was always different. There would invariably be a chance to get a little bag of peanuts and a frosty bottled soda out of a cooler; a good amount of “loafing” and shooting the breeze with buddies at the local gas station. I remember that gas station, “Deep Rock,” being a place of fascination. When dad and I went there, we’d go in and usually get an ice cream bar or something while Darrell the attendant waited on us with a hat that looked like a policeman, a blue uniform, and the coolest thing of all: a silver changemaker attached to his belt. When he pushed levers, the change would magically fall out. I knew then I wanted to be a gas station attendant when I grew up.
Dad and I would make a pass through used car lots on the way home, and I clearly remember sitting on my dad’s lap or standing up in the front seat. We passed by neat cars, and I could pretty much identify cars by their tail lights by the age of 3 or 4.
There are so many times I remember just observing as a kid; not necessarily having anything fascinating in front of my face to entertain me. But I was fascinated all the same.
I think watching people and experiencing some of the simple things in life; the mundane, the ordinary, helps us shape the person we grow up to be. It may even help us appreciate life more.
Plus, I never remember being particularly bored.