I rarely get bored. There is just too much technology out there, being birthed on a daily basis. Little sprouts of digital promise, constantly being thought of, and created by brilliant minds much more wired than mine. I can spend hours (no, seriously) browsing through blogs and articles about the latest trends in gadgets and widgets. Plus, there is always some new podcast to watch (but I’ll save that exciting story for another post). Anyway, boredom is just not something I experience very often. But for my 12-year-old, boredom is an hourly beast to be reckoned with.
You see, H-T has a motto in life. “If I haven’t done everything there is to do in life, it is not because I have not tried, it is because my mother has ensured that I have not had the opportunity.” H-T’s last question before he goes to bed at night is always, “What are we going to do tomorrow?” And the first question in the morning?? You guessed it. “What are we going to do today?” He is a perpetual do-er. Unlike his mom, he bores very easily. I’ll never forget the first time we ever took him to a science museum. He was about four years old, and he was SO into dinosaurs. We got up early one morning, and drove a couple hours from home, so that we could expose him to the incredible traveling dinosaur display that was being exhibited at a specific museum. We parked, we paid our entrance fees, and in fifteen minutes, H-T had worked his way through the entire museum from entrance to exit, and that included the five minutes he spent explaining to the attendant in the dinosaur exhibit why the T-Rex model was anatomically incorrect. “Cool,” he said. “What we gonna do next?”
So I am constantly in search of “cool” things for H-T to do next. When asked for his input on activities – – suggestions usually come in the form of whatever is most likely to bring on life-threatening injuries. Last night, for instance, he wondered when he would be old enough to go bungee jumping. I explained that it would be about the same age that he checked his mom into the nearest nursing home. He has asked at other various times to: skydive, ride on top of our car down the highway, climb a watchtower, and swim across rapids. Basically anything that would make a great episode of Fear Factor would be right up H-T’s alley.
My suggestions for activities, on the other hand, tend to be a little more tame, and tend to create sudden eye-rolling spasms in my beloved go-getter. To me, a picnic in the park, followed by window shopping on Main St. ought to be every kid’s idea of an active day, but I’m afraid H-T and I just don’t see eye to eye on that one. Today, Uber had gone off for the afternoon to hang out with a friend, and I already knew it was coming before he was hardly out of sight. “So what are we gonna do now?”
I put on my mom-cap and tried to think up something really fun for our mother-son afternoon. “How about bowling?” I offered.
The idea at least didn’t create eye-rolling, so two strikes, six spares, seventeen bucks, and an hour later, we got back in the car. “Cool,” he said. “What we gonna do next?”
I felt like marching his precious back side up to the line at the Employment Security Commission, and responding, “I’m not sure, sweetie, but I bet these fine folks here could help us figure out something.” But I stopped myself. In a rare moment of non-cliche momness, I didn’t answer him. I just started driving.
No answer. Just more driving, and then pulling into the parking lot of a large abandoned grocery store. H-T looked around him, a little wary now. He might have thought he had asked one too many questions, and that this was a pretty good spot to abandon a child without attracting much attention. “Mom, what are we doing here?”
“Get out.” He looked at me wide-eyed, but obeyed without question. For all he knew, the car was getting ready to blow up, and my mom-senses were somehow acutely tuned in today.
I opened my door, and got out too. “Now come over here, and get in.”
“On your side?? The driver’s side??!!”
“Yes, get in.” And he did.
Over the next twenty minutes, my 12-year-old learned how to put our car into reverse, how to park, how to brake, and how to nearly drive over a curb. Over those same twenty minutes, H-T was not bored. Not once. And in that time period, my cliched momness had quietly disappeared, and my newfound coolness had materialized. I had let my guard down, and I was truly living in the moment – – right along with my kiddo. H-T looked truly alive in that driver’s seat, and I felt truly alive watching him. When we finally switched back into our proper seats – – and roles – – all H-T could say was, “Way cool. What we gonna do next?” And this time, I couldn’t have agreed with him more.