Here's how the conversation has gone in our house a few times per child, usually sometime between their 4th and 6th birthday:
Child: "Mama, I'm BOOOOOOORED." (glassy eyed stare)
Me: "Boredom is good for you." (unblinking stare, and silence)
It usually only takes a half-dozen or so times for them to learn that their boredom is not my problem, and they stop. If this happens again when they are older, I will quote the saying, "only the boring get bored" or maybe find another such quote for them then.
Why do I believe that boredom is "good" for them? It's what I have seen that lies on the other side of that boredom.
Boredom is the monster lurking at the end of entertainment. It's the sneaky swamp-thing that lies at the end of the movie, or the dull nothing at the end of a book. It's that beast that dulls the mind after a party or outing or field trip. I have found that boredom most often comes when I am left to my own devices to come up with something to occupy my time and thoughts.
But at the other end of boredom, when I have faced that monster, that swamp-thing, that nothing, is my creativity, my imagination, my best and brightest self. The overcoming of boredom, if channeled well, is beauty, and creation, and fun! If not channeled well, this can become destructive, ugly, and mean. I must choose, and choose well!
Mastering boredom helps my children exercise their imaginations, to test what they are capable of, to see the beauty of their own imagination. I have watched them make toys from paper and tape, read books that challenged their reading level, create their own games, turn sticks into ninja swords (then run across the yard, brandishing their ninja swords at imaginary enemies), and many other things. All because of boredom that was channeled or staved off because of active imaginations.
If I had chosen to entertain them instead, none of these things would have happened. And, knowing my children, the entertainment would have ended, leaving a vacuum (boredom!) that had to be filled time and time again. It becomes an endless spiral. For my girls (and I suspect, most children), the more "entertainment" given to them, the quicker the boredom sets in. When largely left to do their own entertaining, I seldom hear "I'm bored!" (Almost never, in fact.)
I guess I need to remind myself of this, under the relentless pressure to prove I'm a "good mommy" by endlessly entertaining my children, or providing them expensive and electronic means to entertain them. As I see pin after pin or read blog after blog or FB share after FB share of what "good mommies" are doing to entertain their children, I often wonder if I am messing up. Then I look outside and see my dirt-covered children smiling and laughing in the back yard, making up their own games and feeding crickets to the chickens. And I realize I'm not. I realize I don't actually feel the conviction do be doing these things, just the "mom-guilt" because I'm comparing myself to others. I'm picking that burden back up, one I'm not meant to carry.