Warning: Future Disengaged Teen Ahead
My daughter has just started uttering the “I’m bored” phrase, although she willingly admits to not having a clue as to it’s meaning, yet. But she gets that it is a proclamation of dissatisfaction. Maybe she wants me to stop cooking and cleaning and play with her. Maybe she wants to do something other than what is available in the house. But I don’t know… I think it’s more than that. I think she is tapping into a sentiment that is like an epidemic in the USA (maybe other western cultures, as well). Because, although I hate the term bored, I also feel that way all the time. Not that I have nothing to do… I have to clean, I have to cook, I’m supposed to exercise. I’d much rather facebook binge and stall than do any of it, though, and the reason is because it’s so uninspiring. That’s what boredom is to me. My job, my day, my routine… it’s got nothing in it that makes me feel enthusiastic, most of the time. It’s just another wash, rinse, repeat cycle. So I get it, it’s boring. It’s unsatisfying, and it’s uninspiring. At three years old, I can already envision my daughter as a 13-year-old, attached to multiple devices, with me complaining and griping about it. Which is so hypocritical, because that’s exactly what I do right now- try to avoid the humdrum of daily life with my phone/internet surfing/blogging/blog reading/facebooking/instagramming etc etc.
And no, just turning it off doesn’t help. Why? Because there’s a reason I do it in the first place. Something is missing. Something isn’t right. We are stuck in a life that makes zero sense. Work to pay for a house, child care, and car so that I can have a car to get to work, child care while I work, and a house to sleep in in between, which I complain about cleaning, and which I also try to avoid for that reason. It’s insanity. And I’m stuck in it, like a rat in a wheel.
The worst part? My daughter is absorbing this life style, and like a virus it is slowly converting each strand of her DNA to its mind-numbing cause.
How miserable is miserable enough?
We are told this is all acceptable because it’s security. We feel safe in the routine because it’s comfortable. It’s what our parents did. It’s what everyone around us does. We know what to complain about, which sources of solace to seek (food, alcohol, two week beach vacations) to soothe our drained and uninspired minds. We tell ourselves it’s ok because we have found a nice church, a school that seems decent, a job that at least we probably won’t lose. We need the job, after all, to afford the car (which we need for the job). We need to afford the house, from where we venture forth to work and school. Also, we need school, because we have to work, and what else should we do with the kids? And really, we aren’t that miserable. There are good times and good things about feeling safe. We are close to our family and friends. We sometimes feel happy.
But mostly, we don’t. We comfort ourselves with a lot of tales, but for a lot of us… something is missing. A true calling, a true desire. For me, it comes to the surface all the time. And never moreso than when my daughter, barely out of diapers, heaves a huge sigh and says “I’m bored”, in spite of being surrounded by educational toys, entertainment, a huge yard with pond and lake and nature galore. She is bored because I am bored. Because a lot of people around her are, deep down, uninspired. Unenthusiastic. Uninterested. And unable to see or find a way out.
But there’s donuts? And coffee?
To be honest, what helps me get through my average day, is my next coffee. Or a little bit of a candy bar (ok, a whole one, fine!). Junk food. And sleep. And facebook. These feel like little rewards to myself, so is it any wonder I’m getting heavy? Like, I really feel like I need a treat just to do what I’m doing every day. If that’s not a symptom of a disease, I’m not sure what is.
But what if…?
But yeah, here I sit, still doing it. There are lots of reasons why. Security, yes. Fear, definitely. My grandma still being alive is why I tell myself I’m still here. I even tell myself lots of stories, like how living in the townhouses and sending my daughter to a democratic-ish charter school will be enough. It’ll be better. It’ll be fine. But when I’m being totally honest, it will be the same thing, just wearing slightly different clothes.
I’m able to guilt myself into just getting on with this routine because of my daughter. Won’t she feel insecure? Lost? Alone or lonely? Doesn’t she need all of this American security to feel, well, secure? And if she doesn’t feel that secure, won’t she be super damaged? Am I enough to be considered a family? I would’ve left yesterday if I had a spouse and siblings ready to go with us. We’d be a mobile family, home as long as we’re together. Why cannot see myself and M as a “whole” family? Will making friends elsewhere, visiting people once or twice a year, be “enough”? Will having mom as “home” wherever we may be be enough to foster a sense of home and love, or will it destroy her little soul?
I could go on and on like this. And then I see the road we’re headed down, and my future 13-year-old zoned out on devices, as clear as day in my mind. And I wonder, why are we still here?