• Mary Anderson

What Knitting and Pogo Sticks Have in Common



As a child, I was bored in school. I always finished my work ahead of the other kids and then usually, out of boredom, I got into trouble. I fidgeted and talked to other kids who were still working. I was thought of as an unruly child. Thank God for my fifth-grade teacher, the only teacher I ever had who gave me extra interesting work to do. I learned from her that I could find ways to combat boredom.


At home, with no friends to play with, I filled my time by hopping on my pogo stick. First I learned to go all the way around a large city block without stopping. Then I learned to do the same thing without using my hands to hold the pogo stick. I hugged it between my legs and made the journey.


As an adult I learned to combat boredom in some situations by knitting. I sat in grad school classes or town meetings and knit many useful items. Rather than distracting me, it helped me focus more on the classes, since my mind did not go numb with boredom.

Walking certain stretches of the trail tries one’s soul. Some of the desert or road-walk sections seem the same day after day. When I go for days seeing little for views and talking only to cows I have to be creative to escape mind-numbing boredom. Sometimes this boredom feels painful. Other times it spurs me to think about a new blog post, like this one on boredom!


When I feel the crush of boredom take over while hiking I've learned to focus my attention on the details around me. I remind myself that I am lucky to be able to do what I am doing, and I try not to waste a moment of it.


I think that today’s children have less opportunity to learn how to combat boredom with creativity. Play seems more structured and boredom is being filled by computer games. I don’t want to say this is all bad, but it does concern me. I think we need to teach our young kids how to sit with and combat boredom without always turning to an electronic device. I wonder if we are losing creativity by not doing so.

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I used to demonstrate weaving at craft shows and would let kids weave on my portable loom. I lost count of how many told me it was more fun than computer games, and some begged their mothers to get them one. It takes a lot more work to get a kid outside or teach them to weave than it does to hand them a handheld device. Yet so many parents are stretched thin working outside jobs that it is easier for them to give in to the electronic device.

I can’t help thinking that our culture has its priorities skewed. We pay those who teach children creativity and do quality child care far less than we pay those who create electronic devices. Yet which is the better way to teach children to combat boredom?

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