Dispelling summer ‘boredom’

Nicole Daughhetee

Nicole Daughhetee

Life As I know It

by Nicole Daughhetee

It is officially summer in my house: Emerson announced this weekend that she is bored.


No other statement (well, I suppose this isn’t entirely true) makes me want to jump up on my soapbox more than when my children whine “I’m bored.”

Every time “I’m bored” listlessly rolls off out of the mouths of one of my girls, a part of me feels as though some part of me has failed as a parent. Em and Ella have more toys than they need; technology that I never imagined when I was a kid; wide open spaces; and each other.

When I was a kid, summer for me meant Muss Park. Part of the Miami Beach Parks and Recreation Division, Muss Park provided a day camp much like the YMCA. Mom would drop me off in the morning with a bagged lunch and pick me up when her day at work was over.

Those in-between hours provided for some of the greatest memories I carry with me as an adult.

Two mornings a week, we would load up in the big purple school bus and head over to the Youth Center (a rival camp where the more privileged children spent the day in air-conditioning) for swimming instruction in their Olympic-sized pool. We took field trips to the movies; we went horseback riding; we went to Grand Prix Race-o-Rama (Miami’s equivalent of Frankie’s Fun Park).

We worked on arts and crafts projects. Participated in an annual talent show where we spent a few weeks learning dances choreographed by our coaches. There were organized team sports like kick-ball and tee-ball that we would practice so we could compete against the other parks’ camps.

Mostly, my friends and I spent a lot of time playing outside. We made up new versions of tag and freeze tag and spent hours running around. We dug in the dirt and sand constructing villages for the lizards we would catch and set loose in the cities we created. We played endless games of box ball, hop-scotch and jump rope.

Looking back, I remember being hot, sweaty, and so filthy that my mom always had a towel to put on the car seat before I sat on it. But I truly don’t remember being bored.

Because even I wasn’t at camp, when I was home in the evenings, I had an entirely new set of kids — single-parent children like me who lived in the apartments furnished by the hospital where our moms worked — that I would play with.

I would lace up my Strawberry Shortcake roller skates, and my friends and I spent hours skating up and down the sidewalks. When we tired of that, we played all sorts of make-believe games out on the docks (the apartment buildings backed up to an inlet of Biscayne Bay). Love Boat was one of our favorite games and involved the use of a clipboard for whoever was playing the part of Julie and leaves which served as the money to pay for our boarding passes.

This summer I can’t afford to send the girls to camp, which is fine with them, because they prefer to be at home. One of my primary goals is to teach them how to alleviate boredom.

Across the top of a large sheet of paper is the title “Non-Boring Things To Do.” Any time one of my girls says she is bored, she has to contribute a non-boring, something-to-do idea to the list; then she or they will choose an item to do.

We’ll see how it goes — one day at a time — in this life as I am learning it.