Sunday, June 20, 2010

I'm bored

It's beyond me why parents tolerate the "I'm bored" whine from their children. If a kid takes up this complaint I see young mothers scurrying around to find something to amuse the little darling as if the lack of entertainment is dangerous. Lock the kid up in a back yard with a box, a piece of string, some glue, maybe a handful of buttons and a pair of scissors - tell him to make something and don't let him back in for 4 or 5 hours! That would be the start of a cure.

I can't remember ever being bored nor do I remember any of my childhood friends complaining of this.  There was rarely nothing to do (we played with anything and everything). We always played outside (roller skating, skipping, hide and seek, ice skating, igloo building, hopscotch, playing house, playing doctor, playing tag, playing hockey, following the delivery men, knocking down icicles, building ice dams in the spring, collecting tad poles, climbing trees, playing baseball) and were kept in only when it was dangerously cold - like 20 below zero or lower. 

My parents cooked up a plan for our amusement should we get cabin fever during the cold snaps and annoy them with boisterousness or overdoing our musical instruments (the house was small and there was no escape). They decided we could make our own wall paper for the "rec" room downstairs in the basement; really just a corner of the basement partitioned off where we kept our television set. My father would bring home all his mail and we kids would steam off the stamps, and get them flat and dry. He had a motive, of course that the process would arouse curiosity about where the stamps came from. Little did he know that he was planting the seeds for my lifelong wanderlust. Dad never passed up the opportunity for a "teaching moment" and today, Father's day, I honor his memory and thank him for being such a loving and engaged parent. 

When those rare nothing-to-do moments came along, we glued the flattened stamps to rolls of cash register paper. Neat and straight (as a kid could manage) and with the colors varied. I remember sitting at the dining room table with Eilleen, thick snowfall whiting out the windows, the heater blasting us with warm air and the smell of mucilage hanging in the air. The "stamped" strips were applied to the walls as we completed them. When they were finally all done, mother lacquered the wall. The stamp wallpaper was a conversation piece;  a piece of entertainment in itself - guests would always take an interest. 

After my mother died and our family home was being sold, my sister and I each cut off a piece of the stamp wall. Mine is framed and hangs in my kitchen. 


  1. Anonymous10:18 AM

    oh, you are a crafter after my own heart. Love the stamp wallpaper. No wonder you liked Barbara's stamp pictures. It's so wonderful that you actually saved that beautiful strip of nostalgia. Love it.
    At the next book club, if I remember I'll bring in a book by a guy (can't remember his name) who designed stamps of imaginary countries. You'll love it.

  2. What a wonderful idea- the stamp wallpaper! What an idyllic sounding childhood. Your folks seem like such nice parents.