The bored children of Summer
Mariette Ulrich writes about children, Summer, and boredom. She has a point about modern, mostly electronic entertainments offering “stimulation (but usually the wrong kind–that which dazzles the senses, but does not feed the soul or the intellect).” But when you read about Ulrich growing up you realize that there is something deeper there. She had open space on a farm and lots of relatives (read: other children). Today’s urbanized population doesn’t have the great outdoors and in the age of single-child families and DINK neighbours, there are precious few other kids to play with. Our children spend the Summer outside Toronto, at a cottage near a bay. They spend most of the day swimming, climbing trees and rocks, running, exploring, digging, capturing wild critters, and gardening. They also have each other. It is harder to be bored when there are others with whom to play. There is still time for game boys, movies, and other electronics, but there isn’t time for boredom. They are too busy to be bored. Things to do and other people are pretty good tonics for boredom.
Relatedly, earlier this Summer, Toronto’s deputy mayor Doug Holyday said that the downtown was not a great place to raise kids and I’d agree: parks are not the same as one’s own suburban lawn or country fields and there aren’t enough other kids to play with (in part because the downtown does not have affordable spacious housing for families). Holyday was beaten up in the press, but he had a point.