The Playroom: Not Me

Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Maraya Steadman

It’s minus something outside. Cold enough to cancel school, cold enough to stay indoors all day, cold enough to wonder why we live this far north of moderate and cold enough for my kids to invite that other kid, “I’m so bored” over to not play.

“I’m so bored” mostly comes over on extreme weather days and holidays. When that kid is around they all roll around on the furniture and lament their lack of entertainment options. I’ve tried quotes like, “If you’re bored then you’re not paying attention.” That one turned out to be a paraphrase from Fritz Perls, a famous psychoanalyst. I have no idea where I found it but I think I need to keep looking. All that quote gets me is a blank stare and the anguish begins all over again.

“It’s not my job to entertain you.”
“There’s nothing to do.”
“If you’re bored then you’re not paying attention.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means you should experience life, connect with the world around you, write more poetry, go play with Legos.”
“I hate Legos.”

And just about the time we are about to fight over how much they do or do not like Legos, the phone will ring and one of my friends will ask to borrow glue. Some mothers enjoy “I’m so bored.” They bake cookies and do arts and crafts; they run out of glue and keep the kids occupied. I can’t figure out when that mother does the laundry or fills the crock pot. She probably gets “I’m so bored” to help her. The only kid around here who ever offers to help me out is “Not Me.”

I’m sure if I disciplined more effectively or I was more organized with the chore charts, we never would have gone for number four and “Not Me” wouldn’t be here. Whenever I ask the kids “Who is going to feed this dog?” or “How about someone take out the garbage for me?” “Not Me” always answers. And that kid is never bored. Just this week “Not Me” broke a table in the front room, left his hat at the ice rink and changed my text name to “Mr. Poopsack,” which my son thought was hilarious.

“Not Me” may be our fourth child, but “I’m so Bored” is a kid I’ve invited over. I worry that I’ve provided too many television stations, too many electronics and too many activities. I’ve scripted their lives to such a degree that they can no longer entertain themselves or appreciate boredom. I haven’t been able to teach my children that time without boundaries, schedules or constraints is a gift they get to open on school holidays, after they take out the garbage and feed the dog. And although it’s not my job to entertain them, I am their teacher.

Maybe by the next time these kids have a school holiday, I’ll have gotten those vanity plates for my car. Then when “I’m So Bored” shows up, “Not Me” can drive them to practice.

Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. Her website is Email her at