“I’m borrrrrred, Mommeeeee.”
It’s like nails on a chalkboard for me.
When I was a kid, “I’m bored” was a phrase you only uttered once. If my Dad heard you were bored, he would find an activity to un-bore you. This usually involved a basket of unmatched socks or a pile of freshly chopped fire wood.
We quickly learned the art of “not looking bored.”
Which meant I spent a lot of time outside running around in the woods, or riding my bike, or pretending to be asleep on the couch when my Dad walked in the room. Either way, my boredom was a secret best kept to myself.
Now, as a parent myself, I would love to give a “constructive solution” to my own kids’ boredom. Upon hearing the infamous boredom battle cry, I have attempted to teach the “I’ll show them bored” lesson, but having a child with autism apparently excludes me from those teachable moments.
Here’s how it went down…
“I’m borrrrrred, Mommeeeee.”
“Ok, why don’t you and your brother go and clean up the playroom and then we can watch a show.”
Both boys reluctantly saunter off because they see the scary mommy look in my eye starting to gleam.
Things were going fine. I hadn’t heard much out of them for about 3 1/2 minutes. And then I hear, “No, Finn!” And then Charlie comes screaming into the living room. Finn poked him in the eye with a marker.
And that’s usually how it goes in our house. Boredom begets problem behavior. Problem behavior begets attention. And the cycle starts over again.
Home is supposed to be where we are most relaxed. Free to be ourselves. But for Finn, home is a constant frustration. Since summer started, Finn’s meltdowns have been increasing every day. His frustration level is on high, so when the smallest thing happens he cannot cope. If one of the twins touches him with a sticky hand, he drops to the floor. Yesterday, I took them to the car wash (because Finn loves it) and the man put a “frequent customer” discount sticker on Finn’s window and Finn went berserk! I had to pull over to try and rip it off.
I understand why it’s happening. Finn craves order. He’s not getting it. He needs to control something, so he is freaking out when it doesn’t happen. I get it. But, sometimes, “getting it” doesn’t make life any easier.
The hardest part was a few weeks ago when Finn saw the “summer school” (extended school year) bus drive by. He said, “Oh, there’s the summer school bus. I wish I were on it.”
I was deflated. Heart broken.
I was the one who chose not to send Finn to summer school. I wanted to create an “old fashioned” summer for him, complete with watermelon seed spitting contests and lighthouse climbs (everyone does that, right?)
I wanted him to feel the joy of a lazy summer day.
After I bit back my tears, I questioned him why he would rather be in summer school, he said, “because I didn’t know how hard it was going to be with the babies touching my stuff.” I told him that next year the babies would be older and maybe they won’t touch his stuff as much.
He said he’d think about it.
I guess that’s all I can ask.
So, from now until next summer I will be on audition for Finn to choose my summer over summer school.
I’ll let you know how it goes. Until then, I’ll be teaching my kids the art of looking “not looking bored.” And I’ll still be the one matching all the socks.