Every evening, when I’m working, I call my kids and tell them goodnight. And on Tuesday and Wednesday this week the younger boy acted like he was down in the dumps. I asked what was wrong, and the first time he just mumbled, “Nothing.” But last night he told me he was bored.
“Bored?” I shouted. “We have two TVs with 700 channels on them, two computers hooked up to the internet, you have a Kindle Fire and an iPod, and there are mountains of books and CDs in the house. Or you could go out and ride your bike, give Andy a bath, weed-whack the yard… There are a million things. How could you be bored??”
“There’s nothing to do.”
I don’t want to be a bastard, but that kind of stuff irritates me. ‘Make your own fun’ was how we survived during the era of 4 TV channels and MAD magazines. Shit, man. My head would’ve probably exploded if I had all the options he does. And I don’t remember being bored; I stayed plenty busy. You know, the devil and me…
Whatever. There’s probably more to it. It’s shocking, I know, but I sometimes feel like I’m not getting the full story.
But it got me to thinking about how a kid from 1975 might react to 2012, and vice versa. I think the ’75 kid would be freaked out, and eventually masturbate himself into an ICU. And the ’12 kid would probably be bored off his ass… until he started making friends, and getting into the swing of the ‘make your own fun’ concept. Then he might not want to come back.
I could be wrong, though. It’s been known to happen, on rare occasions. But I do know this: I had a blast as a kid, and my parents worked all the time, just like I do. We had Gilligan’s Island on a 19-inch TV, and all the crazy stuff that was happening outside. And not much else, on the entertainment front.
What do you think? Please give us your thoughts on this.
And just so you know, the younger boy and I are planning a day trip to NYC in May. I’m going to pull him out of school, and we’re going to spend the day browsing through bookstores and record stores. He loves that kind of stuff, just like I do. So, maybe he won’t be bored that day? I hope not, ‘cause it’ll be a blast for me. He’s a great kid, and I’m looking forward to it.
I know this one’s short, but I’m up to my eyebrows in overtime.
I’ll see you guys again soon.
Have a great day!
ONE MORE THING: I don’t want to bring the conversation to a screeching halt by posting a standalone update about this, so I’ll just put it here: All day Friday and Saturday my novel, Crossroads Road, is available for FREE in the Kindle Store. Completely free, with no strings attached. Here’s your link. Please let your friends and enemies know, and download a copy for yourself. Kindle offers a great lineup of apps, so you can read on your computer, tablet, or phone. They cost nothing, and are really cool. Here’s where to get ’em. Thanks guys!
Now playing in the bunker
Treat yourself at Amazon: US and Canada
Joe T. says
First first in a long time!
Joe T. says
It was 85 degrees Monday and both boys complained, “It’s too hot.” Pussies.
Brenda Love says
I think it’s just that “special age” where nothing is going to satisfy, whether it’s disco and platform shoes or the latest computer game. Or the latest Kiss album or…..the latest Kiss tour. Yeah, they really should retire. But anyway, I think your son is experiencing some growing pains.
2nd is so boring.
Kids these days get away with too much, do too little and don’t know what the word “earn” means. Just like when I was a kid….
Jeff Bauer says
It’s painfully sad that In 2012 the words/suggestion/dictate, “Just go outside and play” are so seldom heard.
In the late ’60s, I had my own kinds-sorta Internet. It was ham radio, and I kept in touch with friends around the country and world realtime chatting by tapping out letters and numbers in Morse code.
They had make-your-own fun in 1975? In 1955 we had a small black-and-white TV that got 3 or 4 channels and transistor radios were still a dream waiting to happen. But we could disappear all day, no questions asked, as long as we were home in time for dinner – and that was the girls…2012 kids would either curl up and die or develop imaginations.
Yeah, drove Mom crazy cuz we were bored too. It’s a kid thing.
When I was a youngling, we had a lot less parental supervision. We were alway on our bikes, hanging out in the woods, sledding on the golf course, at the video game arcade. Intellivision was the game system of choice, so choices were poor. I read every book in the kid’s section of our library, and learned to enjoy Roy Rogers, Flash Gordon, Jack Benny, etc. (with only 4 channels, you watched it all).
I’m sure I was bored, but usually due to bad weather.
Parent’s weren’t helicoptering back then, weren’t as worried about kids getting abducted (right or wrong), and there weren’t any cell phones, so if you wanted to know if your pal was around, you reared up on your hind legs, and went to find out.
I think it was the freedom we had at that young age that made the difference.
The 4th Stooge says
Wow…number 7! Getting up sorta early and reading this (instead of working on answering crap-ass e-mails from work) has its rewards.
Now, as to the 1975 kid–this may be because of “That 70’s Show”, but I imagine that if a kid had the money, they could take drugs we could only dream about. They had Quaaludes then! And you could go into record stores! Record stores, people! And turntables….oh, Lord, what I wouldn’t do to go back in time to 1975 and stand on line at CMC to get a Technics 2000 ST turntable (half price, only $80 for direct drive goodness….)
But yeah, since I don’t remember the 70s, I’m going to go with kids in 1985, and hell yeah we were bored. We had a lot more freedom than kids today, but definitely not as much as our parents had–they’d be out all day, going to the dump, the river (no vans down there then, I guess) and do all sorts of crazy shit. Now we had to come along with all those lame-ass PSAs: “I learned it from watching you!” “You’re a turkey!” and the perennial favorite, “Just say NO!”
But nowadays, we sit around and reminisce about what did we do without cell phones (or why I refuse to use one on a regular basis). How did we work around the office? If there wasn’t the internets to make you look busy, what the hell did you do? Read? Although it’s good to know that “I’m booooored” has passed on to another generation. Sometimes I’m so bored with technology, I’ll just break out an old-fashioned book for shits and giggles.
(Yes, this was long and rambling, but I really don’t want to answer work e-mails at home, dammit!)
Bill in WV says
Turntables – yes I have one. Actually, I have two Seeburg jukeboxes that play 45’s. It holds 80 in each. Soon to have a third one. Gotta go to Pittsburgh to get it. Yeah, I’m a coin-op nut, what of it?
I got my turntable in Brooklyn in 1973. It was at Crazy Eddie’s or Sights and Sounds, one of those places. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve replaced the cartridge, but it still works and still sounds (at least) as good as a CD. Dual CS504, belt drive.
Dang, I feel like such a dinosaur for having a turntable and a manual-shift car, and for knowing how to read a dial clock and use a dial phone.
Well, our two boys are well into the teen years now, and act like it with constant computer gaming, texting, slavish devotion to reading all things “Failblog,’ etc. From time to time I poke my head in their room and ask if they’re bored, and usually the answer is no. I get the feeling they’d just stay in there for days on end, eating nothing but CheezIts and Squirt, if I didn’t check on them.
However, if I get a wild hair to go on a hike or to the art museum or out to lunch or whatever, they’ll happily go along, which is more positive a response than I would have given my parents if my ‘plans’ were interrupted as a teenager (‘plans’ being equivalent to ‘me stuck in my room reading a book’). Yeah, I know, I have it easy – they’re decent kids with good attitudes.
This is why I’m sure they must be up to something awful.
Erica in Charlotte says
Excellent “what-if” question! I was born in the early 70s and spent MOST of my time alone at home, especially during summer when my mom worked. I had books and vast quantities of “LEGO” that kept me entertained, as well as whatever was on the 4 channels (usually the UHF variety since it wasn’t quite as vanilla). I won’t mention my squadron of imaginary friends (including Roger Daltrey) because that would make me sound sad. Unenviably sad. Oops.
There was a great deal of bike riding and exploring the creek in the woods with neighbor kids, too.
Anyway, my eldest Secret is 14 and it KILLS ME to hear him say he’s bored.
The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
Mike U says
I made the mistake of being “bored” onetime as a young teen and mentioned this to my Dad…6 hours later when I was done pulling all signs of vegetation from the gravel driveway I was not cured….a day or so later I became bored again which Dad solved with me thoroughly cleaning inside and out of both cars…a few more episodes like this made me realize that I had better find my own entertainment and not allow myself to get bored…chomping at the bit to do this to my kids when they get bored, lol.
Gordion Knott says
Despite (or because of) the 19″ TV and four channels, I often fell prey to teenage boredom. But the cure was safely behind glass at the nearest liquor store. A six pack of Mickey’s Big Mouth was the perfect tonic for the boredom blues. (Still kinda is, though I’ve graduated to more expensive brews).
I suspect that tighter liquor laws and the 21 drinking age has put an end to this option, though.
2012 kid: What the hell is THAT?
1975 kid: A deck of cards.
1975 kid (to iPhone) This is the lamest Toodle Loop radio I’ve ever seen.
1975 kid: WTF are you wearing???
2012 kid: This? It’s a bike helmet
1975 kid: Mom, if I take out the garbage and set the table, will you give me a 25 cent a week allowance? 2012 kid: Mom, can I have a $20 for McDonalds?
1975 kid (ring ring) Is your refrigertaor running?
2012 kid: (Justin Bieber ringtone) Hey, wassup?
1975 kid: Let’s take our bikes and go to the park
2012 kid: Mondays and Thursdays I have Saxaphone lessons, Tuesdays I have ballet, Friday I have sushi making and watercoloring, Wednesdays I see my dad and shrink…
1975 kid: I’m in ecstacy!
2012 kid: I’m on Ecstacy!
madz…that was awesome! And all too true!!
So true madz…which is why I raise my two daughters in Nome, Alaska. It has become a bit crappier with internet, cable, and Wii…but the kids still go out sledding and walking our dog at 40 below.
…and I secong bikerchick, great post madz!
can you see russia from your house?
What he meant was “There’s notheing ELSE to do.”
I was a “latch key kid”. Both parents worked as long as I can remember. So I came home from school and had to fend for myself. I would watch Dark Shadows on our big ass consol TV until mom got home. As I older, I couldn’t wait to finish the dinner dishes so I could go play capture the flag, aka: kick the bucket, with my friends. Friends who lived a mile away…..walking to and from by myself at 10 at night.
My school had 2 or 3 computers which were the size of small compact cars. I never used one of them. Homework was schlepping huge books 11 blocks from my house. No bus unless you were out in the “country”.
I don’t know if latch key kids exist today because it would be misconstrued as child endangerment. There is no such thing as going out side to play anymore. And no way would walking a mile to do anything be acceptable now. Not when there’s mommy’s and daddy’s to either tote you everywhere or buy a car for you.
How about when mom drives the SUV to the end of the driveway so the kid can wait for the school bus in climate controlled comfort? Gone are the days of walking 10 miles uphill both ways like grandpa. (Thank god.)
@madz – love it too!
Dark Shadows! Freaking AWESOME!.
Oh man, my big sister and all her friends would ruh home as fast as they could after school to watch Dark Shadows. That Twilight vampire has nuthin’ on Barnabas Collins!
HOW WEIRD IS THIS??? Jonathin Frid (aka Barnabas Collins) just died yesterday.
I was bored in 1975. Alone. In my prison cell. So one day during an earthquake or some such me and a bunch of my buddies broke the fuck out. I’m the only one who survived. I met a chick on the outside but we were quickly recaptured.
9 months later I was born.
The Kuban says
The opening credits of Look Who’s Talking just flashed before my eyes.
1975 was a little late for me to make my own fun as a kid. It was smack in the middle (at the then age of 19 or 20) of my distinguished military career, which lasted 3 years, 11 months and 29 days exactly. And, I might add, since there was no involuntary drug testing in the Army in those days involved quite a bit of recreational alchohol and/or chemically induced “relaxation” in our off time. The mid sixties to very early seventies were another matter. Walk down to the river to go fishing or swimming by ourselves at 12 or 13, or take loaded guns to the spillway and shoot things a couple years later. Blow things up or start fires, that was always high on the list, and sometimes didn’t even get us in trouble. Hitchhike to town about 15 or 20 miles away and just mess around all day. Ride our bikes to whatever part of the county we would end up in. Manage to get our hands on some beer or a partial bottle of whatever kind of booze we could snag from somewhere and tell the folks we were spending the night camping out down by the river. Or, since everyone got their driver’s license at 16 in those days and cars were roughly $45, take off across the state to see what was over there at 16 or 17. Or one of everybodies favorites, find one of the roughly same age neighborhood girls, go off together and explore the wonders of pubescent development. It frankly astounds me these days how many kids grow up without a single visit to the emergency room. No stitches, broken anythings, nothing. And no parental consultation with the local constabulary. I think most 2012 kids would be overwhelmed by the sight of an arm (or finger for that matter) pointing the wrong way, or a 30 stitch split to the catcher’s forehead resulting from standing to close to the batter, or some second degree burn blisters that needed to be hidden from Mom till they healed up lest everyone involved end up in trouble yet again. And outside of free-range computer porn, most kids from that era would find themselves bored shitless sitting in front of a computer game all day.
Heh, I AM (was?) a ’70s kid and I’m about to masturbate myself into an ICU in 2012! 🙂
LOL ‘Me’ – you took your time about it!
Back in my day we only had 56k modems and had to make do with thumbnail sized portraits of porno.
Hell, we could disappear for dozens of minutes on end and only be brutally scolded for leaving the house because our parents didn’t want us walking around town like they did in the 60’s and 70’s because they think it’s dangerous.
But they sure did leave us alone after school as latch key kids, more often than not dinner was a jar of peanut butter left out on the counter.
Boy howdy, I’ll tell ya. When we first got cable in my town it only had 15 channels. And each show on had to be written, acted out, produced, and distributed. ‘less is was The Wheel or The Bob Barker Show.
Them damn kids now-a-days. I can’t believe they all are the way they are – seein’ as how all their parents are so hardcore and don’t understand that they are why their kids are the way they are because deep down inside they know it sucked to have to play outside all day while their parents watched the local news on the only TV in the house.
Why these children don’t know the misery of having to walk to school everyday. Don’t know why other than it must be that when their parents’ parents made them walk they said to themselves “I’m never gonna make my kids walk to school in the winter.”
icecycle66, in 1975 I used to have to masturbate to the Sears catalogue. Today, with the internet it’s so much easier…I just go to Sears.com!
I’m cheap, i masturbate at harbor freight.
t-storm, I do have friends like you, lol!
Bill in WV says
The Fingerhut catalog normally had a few scantily-clad women, modeling the “Wonder bra” or something. So, we had that going for us………
The Kuban says
Longest sentence in history……
“I can’t believe they all are the way they are – seein’ as how all their parents are so hardcore and don’t understand that they are why their kids are the way they are because deep down inside they know it sucked to have to play outside all day while their parents watched the local news on the only TV in the house.”
No, I’ve written longer.
Bill in WV says
You hear the lamest parental excuse for not making their kids earn anything – “I want my kids to have the things I never had”. Bull-fucking-shit !!!!
I had to mow the grass, take out the garbage and clean my room, just for the privilege of living inside.
And then you wonder why they have no ambition and need health insurance until they are 26.
Some parents shut the kids up by catering to their every whim. These are the ones asking a drooling 4 year old what they’d like for dinner. A fuckin’ fist sandwich should be on the menu.
On the other end of the spectrum are the “MY KID HAS ADD” shoot them full of Ritalin crowd.
I can’t name a single playmate or any of their extended family that had ADD or any of these new fangled “disorders.”
We didn’t have kids with ADD or ADHD when I was growing up.
We only had kids who were a pain in the ass.
Bill in WV says
We went to school with a kid who was hyper as hell. I think his dad just tied him to a chair and then sat back and watched Cronkite.
1940 – 2012
Now I don’t mind choppin’ wood,
And I don’t care if the money’s no good
Just take what you need and leave the rest
But they should never have taken the very best
Update the Woodstock deadpool?
This one hurts… RIP, Sir,
RIP indeed. Not many people have an Elton John song named after them.
Bill in WV says
Damn, Loretta Lynn’s daddy died? I thought he died in the movie and they all stood around a lit trash can drinking ‘shine.
Uncle Buzz in Wheeling says
Teenage moods are like buses: another one will be along in about half an hour.
** Two cannibals are having dinner. The first one says, “You know, I can’t stand your sister.” Second cannibal says, “Well, just eat the noodles then.”
RIP Levon Helm (Google is your friend.)
In the summer of 1975, I was a high school kid working at McDonald’s. I used my McMoney to take a weekly flying lesson. I had a driver’s license, but couldn’t afford a car; rode my bike to the airport and to work.
If I could have seen today’s world, I would have been amazed at the firehose of porn that is the internet. I would have also been surprised at the fact that in spite of that, people nowadays are such prudish Puritans. No smoking, no drinking, no trans fats, hard time just for having a little weed.
Today’s bunkercam pic – that’s from my colonoscopy!
Hey Jeff –
Can you tell us some of the book stores and records shops in NYC that you recommend for rummaging through?
Sometimes when a teenager says he is bored he is really saying there is one thing he would like to do, but can’t.
I was worked hard by chores and jobs and sports as a youngster but most boredum spells would be broken with a good old fight with one of my 2 older Brothers.
Jeff Bauer says
From URBAN, BUT NOT URBANE, SUV:
If you doubt this pussification theory, stick a kid in front of an analog clock, rotary telephone, or in a car with manual crank windows. Then witness the cripple you believed was your little genius.
Oh surf reporters.
Im currently in memphis from las vegas on my way to okc. Shit might be going down in my life. Blessing/curse type stuff. At the end of tje day my question is white? Or cold?
…going to get the chick to help further ruin your life?
I thought you wrote about some chick you wanted to come be with you…I may be wrong……and I may be drunck.
Ok sure. And im drunk to. Airports and airplanes since 11 pm last night pacific
Red at room temperature is best no matter the circumstances; white, cool would be second choice.
It’s the week for that sort of shit. Take the blue pill.
The stuff about all the channels and gadgets will merely occupy onself…not stimulate…(stop what you’re getting ready to write about porn and stuff….that aside). Kindle is cool but all the other mind numbing inflow does drag you down. Dogs gotta run. “Production is the basis of moral”…a famous wackjob once said…and he was right about that. Give me a 18 pack of Coor’s and a lawn, pool, oil changes needing doin’, and a garage that needs straightenin’, by 8 at night I’m feel like bad ass king shit from how I whipped the place into shape. I stand back and take it all in. Kickin’ cripples like they deserve it…(that might be the Coor’s edging me along)…ready for the next week.
Hey…how about volunteer stuff? Not changing diapers at the old folks home but help clean up a river bank or a hiking trail around there. It ain’t just picking up trash. He’s outside and doing something he’ll see a difference in and actually have pride in and feel like he’s part of that river or trail. I know you wrote about your guys and advice…mines not advice, just a thought.
dto… I have a garage that needs your organization skills. So if you’re looking for something to do once you have finished yours…come on over!! Fridge in the garage “for beer only” and we’ll fire up the grill…
Bill in WV says
Amen bro. I work hard to be able to play the way I want to play.
I think Calvin Coolidge said that.
I just made a vow…honest…that whenever I go out for breakfast, in cace the wait person is bored…when they ask me what kind of toast I want…I’m gonna say, “Garlic”.
My wife is bored. She just regestired, on line, the two bathroom Moen fauctes I put in a couple days ago. Huh? I’m afraid if I ask her to go shoot some pool later she’ll probably say she has to register the new ladder and rake I bought. That kind shit didn’t happen in 1975. Weird around here I tell ya.
Thank her when the faucet gets a problem, registering is proof you are the original purchaser. I got a moen faucet years ago with the touted lifetime warranty on everything–now, the first question they ask is: have you got a reciept? Did you register it? No? Tough.
Alex…I just read that to my wife and she smugly said…”Thank you”. Crap…I’m doomed.
Is this anything?:
I was going to post this for further evidence: http://lorenaturner.com/mj.html
But you, sir, have taken the cake, eaten the cake, and shat the cake all over my useless little link.
The Lady Gaga video might actually be worse, though. Marilyn does not approve. At least he’s getting some exercise.
This was a reply to Ed above. I guess I didn’t click “Reply” hard enough. Seeing as my eyes were rolling back in my head at the time, I think I’ll forgive myself.
I’m glad it brightened your day!