So I came across this post on Facebook which was a video explaining why allowing children to be bored is a good thing. Because it allows them to settle into an inner-quietness that helps them create a world for themselves and betters their self-awareness… Blah blah blah…
And then I was reminded of when I was bored as a child. Back when we still weren’t glued to our devices, back when being bored was normal, back when exploring the house to find something to entertain ourselves with was a daily thing….
I remember when I was small, like more than 10 years ago. 4/5 years old, still round and chubby, still whine-y and annoying. Back then, the house had a super spacious living room, where there was a little square area enclosed by two walls, one with a TV, and two adjacent, yellow sofas (those sofas were the best the most comfortable ever but a pity they were thrown). And in the middle of the cosy little living area was our ancient coffee table (we still have it) which stood atop a huge 2mx2m carpet, right in the middle such that there was space left on the four sides for people to sit on. The carpet was beautiful, one of those you’d find at those Indian carpet shops with carpets of all sorts of flowery patterns.
When I was left alone at home and mom and dad went to work, I spent most of every day entertaining myself with the same toys. I had a huge collection of toy cars (hot wheels were always the coolest) kept in this giant box with a green lid which sat in one of the corners of the living room. The cars were always my immediate go-to form of entertainment, and whenever I felt bored, I would always lift the heavy plastic box out from the corner, drop it on the carpet with a thud, and unclip the plastic lid. Digging around in the sea of miniature vehicles, I would fling the lame ones to the sides and fish the cool ones from the bottom, leaving a cone-shaped hole right through the centre.
After careful selection of about 10 cool hot wheels cars, I would drag the box beneath the table. Then came the fun part. See, the carpet was magical. It was huge, beautiful, and the best part – it was an amazing course for my racecars. The carpet would never be totally flat when I played on it. I would drag its edges inwards against the legs of the coffee table, such that the carpet created ripples, or I used to imagine as ‘mountains’ (the top of the ripples) and ‘valleys’ (between the ripples). Once the race course was all set up, I would ready my racecars at a start point, and set them off on a circuit around the ‘carpet mountain’.
During the race, I would make screeching noises as the racecars drifted along the furry terrain. I enjoyed dragging them along as they bumped and crashed against their competitors, flipping a few over sometimes after a hard collision. I also made classic shortcuts; they were routes with the sides paved with unused cars, going underneath the coffee table to provide a more efficient and ‘cheat’ route. After a few laps, the cars would race to the finish line and end with a sleek drift to a stop, and when I pressed down against the carpet, the cars would mark a path with their wheels as if they left a blaze behind them, and then come to an elegant stop.
Today, I’m not sure if I still have the green plastic box in my house. After more than a decade of learning, it feels like I’ve left my entire childhood and its delicate happiness behind me. For years, I had totally forgot about the toys cars until I saw a Facebook video reminding me about it. More importantly, it reminded me about the simple joy people feel when they are left alone to create things to entertain themselves. Those were genuine forms of happiness, not like the kind you feel after purchasing a box of 300 gems in a phone game.
It is rare to be able to feel same kind of happiness now.