“Ima, I’m Bored!”

School is out for everybody now – the middle and high school kids get out around the 20th of June, and the primary school finishes on the 30th.

Which means that, barring a complete change in human nature, mothers will be hearing “Ima, I’m bored!” many times during the next two months.

Our yishuv sponsored a series of workshops the past month for parents on how to prepare for the summer, and it focused mainly on the potential problems faced by parents of teenagers with too much time on their hands. The younger teens are especially at risk, because they are too young to work (the summer camp counselors locally need to be graduates of 10th grade minimum) and are too old for organized day camp.

The yishuv sponsors a bus to the local pool once or twice a week, and the youth counselor (a hired position on our yishuv) organizes some activities, but many parents organize “parent camps” to fill in the gaps. The problem with this is that each group is a world unto itself.

My seventh grader is set – the parents in this group are super organized and we have five days of activities planned out (today is the separate beach in Tel-Aviv, next week is a walking tiyul, etc.). My eighth grader is not so lucky. There is no one “leader” amongst the parents – and I couldn’t take it on since I was so busy at work until yesterday.

In addition to the activities, the educators who spoke during the workshops emphasized the importance of having some structure to the day – even a minimal one. Too many teenagers turn night into day, and end up sleeping most of the morning away (or the whole day!) and then hanging out at night.

We put our foot down and insisted on a curfew – of 12:00am. For those of you who live in a city it may seem pretty late for a 14 year old – but here in yishuvim it is considered “normal” or “early”. The “problem” that we have in yishuvim is that the kids, and some parents, assume that it is safe here, and there is nothing dangerous about the kids hanging out until very late. I am lucky in that I have only boys – and they have a halachic (pertaining to Jewish law) obligation to pray with a minyan (a quorum of 10 men). The latest minyan here is 8:15am – so that morning deadline keeps them from sleeping too late (and yes, we have to wake them up, occasionally with the warning that if it is too hard to get up in the morning, then you’ll have to go to sleep earlier at night….).

My kids are reluctant to go to the library, so I go for them, and make sure to bring back four books at a time. That way I know that at least one will catch their interest. Of course the DVD gets an extra workout during the summer, too.

A little boredom is not bad. Two months of boredom is not good for anyone. I wish my readers an enjoyable and safe summer!

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rickismom
    Jul 01, 2009 @ 21:26:00

    Yes, I always saw that having some structure to the day helped. Usually also at the start of the chofesh, we agreed on one “project” to do around the house.

  2. RR
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 08:24:56

    I hear you! Our kids are signed up for kaytanot, but come August we’re on our own. I always call August “The Dead Zone.” Everyone I know is in the same boat- we always spend that month scrambling to keep the kids occupied. You’d think that by now, some enterprising sort would set up some kaytanot to last through the end of August. He/she would make a bundle!

  3. westbankmama
    Jul 03, 2009 @ 10:59:12

    rikismom – the kids got excited about the idea of painting their room – until they had to decide on a color! This project is on hold for now…

    RR – I don’t think ANYONE wants to work in August…

  4. aliyah06
    Jul 04, 2009 @ 18:59:49

    Hmmm….my mother’s solution was to make me help with housework until 12 noon every day–afternoons and evenings were mine, with the caveat that I had to eat dinner with the family, and had to be home by 10pm.

    A friend has told his 14 year old that he can stay up “as late as he wants” BUT he must be up and checking in with his working parents and doing chores by 11 am….and if not, then his bedtime reverts to 10pm.

    It’s tought at this age–once I was old enough to work, I worked but the early teen years are also “the dead zone.”

    I’m lucky–Josh’s special ed school has kitana until the end of July then he works as a camp counselor at Camp Shatuf.

    Another thing…..my kids learned very early never to say “I’m bored” because I was always ready to teach them things like loading the dishwasher, folding laundry, cleaning toilets, etc…..they learned very quickly to amuse themselves.

  5. Rivka with a capital A
    Jul 04, 2009 @ 22:46:23

    We have been doing “kaytanat ima” for years. I see that it looses it’s charm eventually. Last year, my eldest, at age 14, had to fit us into her schedule.

    We’ll see what happens this year. Between my recent diagnosis and our upcoming Bar Mitvah, our “normal” summer schedule might be a little tough to maintain.

    We’ll see.

    We do a lot of different parks and museums during the summers. And the pool once a week. Add to that all the things they plan with their friends and youth groups and the summers usually fly by!

    Anyway, I wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog and for your tefillot and well wishes. I hope you will visit again.

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