A Fine Excuse

Yeah, Dad. I know. The great outdoors! But it would also make a great screen saver.

My seven-year-old son was getting on my nerves.

He came to me for what seemed the 100th time and said he was bored and there was nothing to do.

I said, “Go out and play.”

He said, “Boring.”

Of course, he didn’t mean it was boring to play outside, especially not in our house on the coast of Argentina, where a garden-cum-forest beckons. There are trees to climb, bikes to ride and a sandy lane out front where the neighborhood kids get together for games of soccer or just to shoot the breeze. That’s how I spent my youth in Los Angeles, albeit with a lot of cement and cars. But we didn’t give a hoot. It was what we knew. So we raced our bikes, played football and snuck into neighbor’s pools for a dip. Or we’d walk up to the shops to mill around. Or further afield to the fast pace of Westwood Village, a trip that required (for us, at least) a frightful dash across a graveyard after riling each other with tales of ghouls and ghosts and vampires.

But then there were times when we were just too beat for any adventuring, and all we wanted to do was plop down and vegetate in front of the TV watching “Gilligan’s Island” reruns. Or anything, for that matter.

I knew that this was what my son was angling for.

But he’d been banned from watching TV after too much in the morning, and the cold afternoon sunshine called outside.

I told him so.

He responded rashly, “Boring. That’s boring. Everything’s boring. Boring, boring, boring.”

I stared at him, aghast.

What to do? Give in? Or stand my ground?

Then a possibility arose. I resorted to an expression my mother would use at times when us three boys wouldn’t stop pestering here for this, that or the other.

I told him to go jump in a lake!

He looked at me blankly and then slowly turned his head to peer outside.

“But we don’t have a lake.”

That caught me off guard and I laughed. And then, yes, I gave in to him, reasoning to myself that what such a fine excuse he has earned a bit of TV vegetation.

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