Thursday, October 12, 2017

Zoe vs. Boredom . . . Again

Today we're discussing one of life's greatest mysteries. First, a quote I saw this week:
The cure for boredom is curiosity.
Like most children,  Zoe is curious. So why, like most children, is Zoe so often bored?
Two Zoe quotes on boredom:
I'm sooooooo bored.
When I'm bored I sit doing nothing, and that makes me sad and angry.
I say the usual supportive things like: "If you're bored, you can help me fold laundry." Or: "Read a book."
That's her cue to throw herself down on whatever surface is near where I'm folding laundry and cry.
Even Meryl Streep couldn't fake how unsympathetic I am to her plight, so you'd think she'd know better by now.

Boredom for children
Boy from the Land of Stock Photos of Bored Children Staring Out Windows. See the girl here.

It amazes me how she can be bored with All The Things. She has even more venues for entertainment than existed when I was a Kid with a Ton of Toys Who Yet Managed to Complain of Boredom.
Besides the multitude of dolls, vehicles, and action figures, there are the games she plays online, not to mention the games she watches other people play online. Seeing her so distraught makes me want to put on my cranky old-man voice and begin a lecture starting with those three little words: In my day . . .
In my day, even Disney World wasn't as DISNEY WORLD as it is now.

Can a Child Be Bored in Disney World?
Disney World is not just where dreams come true; it's also where our nation's most talented boredomologists have done ground-breaking work.
When I was a kid, the lines for rides at Disney had a unique production value---important to keep tiny impatient guests occupied---but now they're even MORE SO. Of the myriad articles on traveling to Disney World, many have recommendations for how you should allocate your Fast Passes based on which lines have the most entertainment value!
So even for the rides with longer waits, Zoe had little opportunity to remember to tell me about her deep-seated, constant companion, boredom.
Even the waiting area for one of the buses had a tic tac toe beanbag toss game and hula hoops as if no one could be alone with their thoughts for even a minute lest we realize how insane and/or expensive the Disney Experience was.
I suspect that if she'd worked harder at it, Zoe could have been bored at Disney.

Preparing the Next Generation for the Casino-Dwelling Lifestyle
The other day I decided to download a video game to my phone. Must've been curiosity because I refuse to admit boredom. I looked for a game I'd played almost twenty years before that was no-frills, mindless, and cute---the need-trifecta for my nightly commute. The updated version is miles away from the simple version I'd enjoyed in 1999. It's like Candy Crush as compared to Pong. The new version is just so much MORE. More movement and bursts of light and music. Plus rewards in the form of floating treasure chests that emit fireworks before opening to reveal a prize. I was playing to calm my mind not give it a seizure.
Plus it's addicting. Like a gambler, you're always chasing that high of clearing the next level of shiny cute things.
After playing one evening, I looked up to find it was midnight and wondered how that had happened. I felt like a toddler after caffeine, sugar, presents, and a personal phone call from Queen Elsa wishing me a happy birthday.
With games like these, it's no surprise Zoe is easily bored. If something in front of her isn't ringing or jumping or blowing up it's not stimulating enough. No wonder sitting quietly with her thoughts is so unmooring.
Hanging out with Glacial Mommy who exhorts her to read just can't compete. Maybe I should put a bell around my neck, dress only in primary colors, and throw glitter in the air every time she says my name.

On Appreciating Boredom
It's no coincidence that "may you live in interesting times" is a curse. As you get older and you become more exposed to the slings and arrows of life, you may even grow fond of boredom.
The weekend before our trip to Disney, there was a fire in the apartment building next door. Alarms and fire trucks and breaking glass. So loud I was worried Zoe would wake up, and I needed her rested since we had a full day of laundry and packing ahead of us.
The fire was on my side of the street so I could only see the reflection in the windows across the way in addition to the neighbors who'd come outside to watch. Zoe did not wake up and eventually I went to bed.
The next day after doing some packing---boring!---I thought I'd take Zoe out. When we passed the apartment building that had the fire, Zoe asked what had happened. 
I told her about the fire.
I'm glad no one was hurt, she said with innocent confidence.
Though her made-up games are often very violent, Zoe has no real concept of tragedy. It never entered her mind that a person could have been killed, had been killed, in fact, something her mother knew having heard it on the local morning news.
I wasn't going to tell her though, and a moment later, she ran ahead of me. I warned her to watch out for driveways, a reflex, a product of that constant low-level song in my brain listing potential threats.
I was looking forward to an uneventful trip to the drugstore after which we'd go home to finish packing.
Zoe: 172; Universe: 0

If you enjoyed this post, you may like Zoe vs. Boredom: In Which a Child's Ennui Becomes Tedious

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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