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Paul Turner: Let’s make kids bored again this summer

School’s out and the first day of summer is later this week.

All’s well, right?

Not so fast. Some of us are concerned that kids in Spokane have lost their edge when it comes to complaining about being bored. And let’s face it, summer just would not be the same without hearing young people protest that there’s nothing to do. Well, at least once or twice.

It’s a seasonal classic, like lemonade stands or tomato and sweet onion sandwiches. Heavy on the mayo.

I guess there’s really no mystery about why today’s kids might lag when it comes to complaining about being bored. They have so many planned activities, specialized camps and youth-focused vacation itineraries that there’s hardly time to slump lifelessly on the couch and pout.

At least for the fortunate children.

So how to address this? I have an idea.

If we agree that summer would lack a certain something without hearing kids whine about being bored once or twice – there are limits, of course – there’s something we can do to help our young people.

We can confront them with a few of the things adults in Spokane get excited about, and then stand back as the projections of ennui pour forth.

Nothing will make a kid roll his or her eyes quite like exposure to the unbridled enthusiasm of grownups.

So what I’m proposing is that we tee it up for them and then let them pay tribute to the time-honored tradition of grousing kids and sulky teens in summer. How? It’s simple. Just run a few Inland Northwest current events by them. Then watch and enjoy as their performance boredom reminds you of lazy, hazy summers long ago.

Here, I’ll show you.

“Hey Kaylub, did you know Spokane is going to have a new city flag?”

If that doesn’t send a kid into a mock-coma, I’m not sure what would.

Maybe this. “Luna, did you know a semi-national fast-food chain with a history of political controversy might be coming to Spokane?”


Or this. “Looks like Avista is going to install an electric smart meter and natural gas smart module at our house.”

There’s really no limit to where you can go for material.

If any allusion to sports reliably triggers make-believe symptoms of narcolepsy in your granddaughter, you can tell her all about an ACC team coming to Spokane a week before Christmas for a basketball game.

Or you can tout a family outing to an upcoming Spokane Indians baseball game. “Just think, honey. These guys are only about seven rungs away from the bigs. And we get to see them now!”

You say a kid who spends part of every summer at your place tends to have his eyes glaze over when you explain the five key things to remember when trying to flush the toilet at your lake cabin? Or you’re pretty sure a certain youth might black out if you continue talking about how Canada Day is on a Monday this year?

Well, you know how to proceed. As Atticus Finch said, do your duty.

Tell kids about Spokane’s infrastructure needs or Idaho’s culture-of-resentment politics. Show them your cooking tweets.

Or, to put a different spin on a parenting classic from long ago, say “I’ll give you something to be bored about.”

Of course, nobody really wants kids to be bored all summer. But we all know that’s not going to happen.

In some cases, kids are simply too scheduled. And in others, well, summer’s magic still has the power to transform idleness into neighborhood adventure.

It’s just sort of a kick to see them in that lethargic moment before something ignites their imaginations.

Compare and contrast

This might be a good moment, while we have breathable air, to remember that there are worse things than smoke from wildfires.

All you need to do to convince yourself of that is reflect on certain scenes in memorable summer movies. For instance …

Smoke in the air is bad, but it’s not like being slowly devoured by a toothy shark. Right?

It’s not as bad as being with a guy who says stuff like, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” Of course not.

And on a scale of horror, it’s not like having to caddy for Chevy Chase. Right?

So when the smoke comes, and it will, let’s try to keep things in perspective. I say this as an enrolled member of the “Unhealthy for Some Groups” club.

End note

One thing I’ll miss now that school is out is getting off my bike next to Jefferson Elementary and throwing errant playground balls back over the tall fences bordering the South Hill school.

The recess-monitoring teachers and frolicking children are quite congenial about it. I like waving back.

Hope they all have the best summer of their lives.

Until next year anyway.

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at