“I’m bored Mommy. Take me somewhere.”
Michael said this to me the other day. I laughed.
“Michael, you have all those toys in the basement. Go play.”
“But I don’t know how.”
He was genuinely upset about it. This was partially true. Kids with autism have a hard time playing with toys and using their imagination, though Michael has been getting better at this over the past year.
“How about if I show you how to play some of your games then you can try it? Or, we can play one board game together? After that, I have things to do in the house. ”
I always give him a choice. This decreases his anxiety. Usually.
“No, I want to go places. I don’t want to stay home! Home is boring!”
Uh oh. I could feel a meltdown coming.
Then he got mad, and I started getting mad. Fortunately, I stopped myself in the nick of time from yelling and spoke calmly instead. Two of us losing our heads would not work.
“Michael, you need to learn how to have fun by yourself. Go downstairs in the basement with your toys and find something to do. I know you can do it.”
I was calm, but firm. And I crossed my fingers as I said this.
He huffed and puffed, but did as I said. A few minutes later, I listened from the top of the stairs and was amazed. Michael was playing school, one of the favorite games he usually plays with me, by himself! This reminded me what a good friend had told me once, boredom is good for creativity. This is so true for all kids! Michael was forced to get creative with his play when he had no choice. It also taught me to always stop trying to entertain him. This is hard as he is a child that needs to be on the go constantly. But once in awhile it’s important to not have plans. That is when real learning takes place, and on the child’s terms too. It’s the best thing.
I find that what is missing in this generation of children is boredom, the not having anything to do, that leads to creative play and use of imagination. I once watched a Barney episode with Michael a few years ago. It was teaching kids to use their imagination. I was glad that a show was educating children, but sad that this generation needed to be taught this. When I was a kid and my Mom would say go play, my brother and I automatically knew what to do. All kids did. You made up games, whatever seemed like fun. For exceptional children this is extra challenging, but still possible. Simple games like tag, hide and seek, building forts. These are things that they can do alone, with siblings or friends.
How often do your Exceptional Children experience boredom, and what is your solution Exceptional Moms? Have your children learned to make their own fun, and are you setting a good example by making your own simple fun? I for one try and model good leisure activity like reading, singing songs and Michael knows my writing is as much fun as it is work. I also remind myself not to constantly be in rescue mode for my child’s boredom. Once in awhile, it’s a good thing for all of us to have that open space. It forces us to center ourselves, think and fosters new ideas. Until next time.