There is one of those depressing articles in the paper this morning about 'bored teenagers'. You know the sort of thing I mean. "We're bored. There's nothing to do. You aren't providing us with entertainment."
These sort of articles appear often enough for me to assume that there is some sort of problem - but I am still uncertain just what the actual problem is.
One of the neighbourhood children frequently spends time in our house. She considers it to be one of her local libraries, the source of help with homework (rarely needed) and advice about things she feels she cannot talk to her father about. When your mother has died this is important. This child boards at school Monday to Friday. She does not have a lot of free time but neither is she dragged off to an after-school activity every afternoon of the week. She plays sport at school and participates in other school organised activities. She is not learning an instrument, ballet, gymnastics, little Athletics, swimming, dramatics or any other formal activity. She likes gardening, especially if she can grow something which will be eaten. She likes to cook and can produce a diverse range of simple meals under minimal supervision. She is learning to knit, likes to make all sorts of things out of paper, cardboard and other oddments. She reads voraciously. At weekends she likes to go bike riding with her father. Her computer time is limited and under supervision.
Some people say she must be lonely although she is well liked at school. They tell her father she is missing out on a lot of experiences because she does not do the after school activities that so many other children do.
If she wanted to do any of them her father would try and find a way to do it. She is simply not interested. She has too much to do. If she is not actually doing then she is reading. She rarely watches television and, if she does, she will be doing something else at the same time - or she fidgets.
Recently we were doing a bit of girl shopping together - her father finds it difficult to buy clothes, especially underclothes, for her. We came across one of her school friends, a child who has an activity each afternoon of the week. This child complained she was bored. My young friend looked at her and, without actually saying anything, it was clear she was asking, "You're bored?"
When we had moved on she said to me, "You know I think you can be bored from being told what to do all the time."
That might just be the problem.