Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Zombie Children in the Boredom Apocalypse

we wish you a very happy, sugar-charged (and, of course, silly) Halloween with our first guest post from Jes to the silly = sane blog. read and enjoy... and watch out for the vacant stare...

“Mom, I’m bored” is probably the scariest phrase I hear all day. On the outside it may not seem very frightening, but what happens to a child when they have entered the boredom zone is the stuff of horror films.

My usually imaginative, witty and active child literally turns into a mindless zombie. All thought, reasoning and feeling has fled their bodies and I am left with an uncooperative empty shell of kid who doesn’t even have the muscle strength to stand up and walk away from a couch. Instead, they usually roll off the couch with a sigh of exasperation followed by a whine that makes the nerves in my ear drum turn bionic, amplifying all negative thoughts and feelings all around me.

I am now properly set on edge and ready to do battle.

Although that is scary enough, what’s worse is when boredom goes viral. It happens in a blink of an eye, too. As soon as the phrase leaves my child’s mouth, the other children instantly fall to the ground suffering the same zombie-like symptoms.

As a mother of three (two boys ages 8 and nearly 10, and a girl age 4), I have come to recognize these symptoms as the groundwork for anarchy. So here are the rules for fighting your zombie children in the Boredom Apocalypse:

1Remember their human qualities first. Do not focus on what they have become, instead remember who they are: What are their interests? What captivates their attention? What engages their humor? DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT offer TV, movies or video games to fight this battle. Resist the temptation. That thought comes straight from your zombie child’s head to yours, an ability they gain while affected with boredom. It only makes the symptoms worse and the recovery time longer. Do not give up either, they will turn down all cures for their boredom. Their brains are under the influence to reject all offers of fun. The first step is merely the foundation for Step #2.

2Double tap… but not in the traditional sense of zombies (your children are, after all, living beings not undead creatures). Offer them something from Step #1 one and the alternative, a chore, and not just any chore, but a really awful chore like mopping the whole kitchen on their hands and knees, cleaning toilets (if they are old enough), picking up the family pet’s “presents” outside to freshen up the yard. Think old-fashioned parent sending their child to the wood block to burn off steam chopping wood. Getting them to be physical and giving them purpose that helps the community called home is one of the best ways to cure boredom. By the end of the chore, they have typically thought of something fun to do. But, if that doesn’t kill the zombie trance, then move on to Step #3.

3If all else fails, dig to China. Give your zombie child a shovel, place them in a part of the yard they can dig to the other side of the planet, and watch the transformation. Before long, they will stop digging to China and will begin creating their own story. One time my boys created a whole world with waterways, islands and bridges from a dig-to-China session. The neighborhood became involved and all the boys worked on it, perfecting the backyard terra world.

Stay calm, stay strong and even have a nonchalant attitude when addressing your children affected by the Boredom Apocalypse. Because truthfully, boredom is not your problem, it is theirs – you are just guiding them through to the obvious solution. Learning to overcome their sudden lack of internal drive is a skill that will benefit them as adults. Pretty soon your kids will learn that if they say, “I’m bored,” you’ll have them mucking stalls and washing dishes. Avoidance-of-chores survival skills will kick in and their brain will stimulate something fun to do – and you won’t even know they received an invitation from boredom.

photo credit: "Goth Baby Belladonna" by D Sharon Pruitt


  1. Excellent advice! I once heard Robert Dugoni say that if he or any of his 9 siblings ever said they were bored, they were given a choice by their wise mother. Read or weed. Guess who's now a bestselling novelist?

  2. I love the Dig to China bit. I remember my mom sharing stories from her childhood about "digging to China" & I think we did it too...Good times.

  3. Great article! My observation regarding electronics is that you'll pay for it eventually. The more time spent in front of a flat screen, the less active the imagination...

  4. I can't quite get over the picture - but love the way you write Jes - my favorite part is that boredom is their problem not yours :)