My wife takes care of two 7-year-old granddaughters while their parents work. It's not a bad gig when school is in session.
On a normal weekday, she gets the girls off to school in the mornings and makes sure they come home safe in the afternoon. Then they go play. Unless they're dragged home for dinner, you wouldn't see them until bedtime.
No kid is ever at a loss for something to do after school. The fleeting time between getting out of school and getting into bed are the magic hours. No normal kid has to look very hard for something to do then.
But thanks to the UEA weekend, our granddaughters are suffering. Suddenly, with entire days at their disposal, they're at loose ends. And they want someone to do something about it for them.
They're out there in the kitchen right now complaining, "Grammy, there's nothing for us to do."
I hear my wife suggesting that they color, read, play with dolls, or go visit some friends.
"We're tired of doing those," they bleat piteously. "We want something else to do. Something that isn't boring."
Maybe I've just forgotten what it was like, but I don't recall not having anything to do as a kid. There was always something. Granted, not all of it was fun.
School and church kept me pretty busy, both of which seemed to have a lot of "sit there and shut up" for me to do. That was understandably boring.
But any time that was entirely my own time wasn't boring. A guy could never have too much of that, right?
I certainly knew better than whining about not having anything to do around the old man. The guy was a veritable catalog of stuff that needed doing by a bored kid.
Five seconds after grumbling about being bored, I'd be picking up rocks in the backyard. I'd still be bored, but at least I'd be doing something. Even better, he wouldn't have to hear about it.
Growing up, nearly everyone heard a parent say, "If you can't find something to do, I'll find something for you."
Regardless of how sweetly this was said, every kid understood it to be a poorly veiled threat. Our parents weren't going to take you us to Disneyland just because we couldn't think up some way of entertaining ourselves.
Your only option then was to take your indolence somewhere else before you had to clean your room, pull weeds, scrub livestock, etc.
But there was always that kid, the one kid the threat didn't completely work on. That would be any kid like me. I could ALWAYS think up something to do. It didn't always involve fire, explosions and screaming, but it passed the time.
For me the threat worked both ways."If you can't find something fun for me to do, I'll find something fun to do and you probably won't like it."
For my mom at least, giving me some money for a candy run to the corner store was less stressful in the long run than hearing the old man bellow, "For crying out loud, who painted the sofa!"
Here is where I should point out that having your ass beat over the course of an entire afternoon is not boring and technically qualifies as having "something to do." I'm just saying.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.