Bored to Death


I had a post lined up for last week. And this week. Posts I thought you’d enjoy. About spending long summer afternoons considering your life’s desires. Prepping yourself for the new beginning that September brings.

And then, a child shot and killed another child in a high school locker room thirty minutes from my house. With an automatic weapon he brought to school in a guitar case on his yellow school bus.

All the importance I felt about goals and desires seemed trite when compared to the fact that since twenty little elementary school children were killed – murdered, really – by another child in Newton, Connecticut 18 months ago, the same horror of children killing children has happened 74 more times.

The 74th time. Last week. Here, in my hometown.

And I needed to take a beat. To acknowledge the sadness I feel in the deepest part of my cells. To absorb the reality that this is happening at a rate of once a week. On my generation’s parenting watch.

Like many other parents, I feel at a loss of what to do to stop this horrific trend being played out like a video game on the evening news.

I recently read a quote with which I identify by author, Anna Quindlen, from her book, Loud and Clear. She wrote:

“There is a lot of talk now about metal detectors and gun control.
They are both good things.

But they are no more a solution than forks and spoons are a solution to world hunger.”

A gun is a tool. By itself, it lays there inanimate. The gun needs the will of a human being to turn it into a weapon.

What motivates one of our boys to pick up a gun and use it against children? He, who is a child, or barely more than a child, himself? And in most cases, against children he knows, in a school setting that is his own?

I wish I knew the answers to those questions.

And yes, I agree that some of the answers reside with closing the loopholes in our gun control laws. Other answers mean ensuring that the adult whose registered weapon ends up in the hands of a child is punished to the full extent of the law. And yes, there are some answers that re-examine anti-depressant medication and its affect on young minds.

But I also believe that another set of answers involves “mirror neurons.” About what goes on in the minds of our boys when they play violent video games where they are rewarded for killing human beings…without any of the consequences that come with that in real life.

Definitely, some of the answers are there.

Pac City with Dog

I’ve mentioned this before but I love this quote by Howard Thurman {author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader.}

“Don’t ask what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive.
And then go do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Sometimes I worry that not enough of our children feel alive. That they are experiencing life secondhand. Virtually. In a dark basement.

And I worry that out of fear, we keep our kids in front of a screen because it’s easier. It’s less worrisome. We don’t have to worry how they are going to fill their time. Or, that they are going to fall out of a tree and break an arm. Or, fall off a scooter going straight down a hill and road burn the side of their leg. Or, god forbid, get abducted walking down the street.

We hand them an iPad because it’s easier than hearing them fight with their siblings or worrying about them disturbing our empty nester neighbors or whining about being bored.

And yes, I have taken the easy way out…more times than I care to admit. I have let the iPads, and the computer screens, and the video games into my house. Now what?

I think it’s interesting how we post nostalgic photos from the 70s of bike strewn front yards and talk about how we were sent outside to play, all day, until dinner, but we don’t actually do that with our own kids. Or, at least, not to the extent that our parents did.

We need to do that. We need to send them outside more. Out into the real world. And all of us need to be supportive – mothers, fathers, grandparents, guardians, neighbors, and empty nesters. We all need to feel joy at the sight and sound of children running around…even the teenagers. Especially the teenagers.

And when they flop down and pound the carpet with their fists claiming, “I’m so bored!! I have to play my video games!” we can point to the “bored word poem”  below or up at the top.


Have you Been creative?

Have you played Outside?

Have you Read a book?

Have you Exercised yourself and/or the dog?

Have you Done something helpful?

For someone else? Around the house?


And while it’s not a solution, not even really an answer, it’s something. And maybe that something is a small reminder that moves our boys away from the virtual world and back into real life.

With love,


While I wish I could take credit for the word poem, I heard about it from a story on my local radio station, KINK FM 101.9. I’ve adopted it, and personalized it a bit for my family.

Feel free to ”copy and paste” the surfing photo at the top to use for your own family. It’s yours.


  1. Well said!

  2. Kirsten says:

    And/or the dog. And that’s why I love you. 🙂 (ps We have a certain Sellwood Bridge at our house if he’d like it back.)

    • Love you right back, Kirsten. (PS: We were wondering where that certain Sellwood Bridge was. How about if we meet up at the playground sometime soon and let them play outside while we do the bridge exchange? 🙂 )

  3. Carrie,
    This appeared in my inbox this morning as I was feeling so blue and down about everything that is happening in our world. I was wondering what can I possibly do to make a difference? You inspired me with your words. I CAN be that neighbor who smiles and encourages the kids playing outside my door. And I certainly can encourage my own kids who are now young adults (and myself) to “Don’t ask what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Thank you once again for the way you magically turn simple words into thoughts that inspire me.

    • Sue, I feel myself tearing up reading your words because I think we’re all feeling that way, “What can I possibly do?” I am so grateful to know that some of my thoughts can provide a bit of inspiration. Thank you for sharing. xoxo

  4. Thanks for such a thoughtful post. With my goddaughters & the in my life, I struggle with this issue a lot. I love that you offer a take-a-breath start of a possible solution instead of just railing against the problem. XO

    • Jen, We all struggle with it. Never before have kids and adults had access to such visual content in all formats and it’s captivating. One step at a time as we try to harness and put boundaries on the virtual temptations.

  5. Ruby Mattson says:

    How many times I have thought the same words! O.H. Was safe and you were able to “Go play!” with breaks when you got hungry. My children have many memories of days in the fields, or the green belt in creative play with good friends.

    Now my daughter doesn’t dare let my granddaughter play in the front yard alone for fear of some insane individual will kidnap her. Where did we lose that security? How can we help these people with the need to destroy?

    • I know, Ruby. I think back to my childhood in Oak Harbor and we literally ran around all over that town. I don’t know why we don’t feel safe to let our children play outside and run around on their own like they did before. I’d say a big part of it is the sensationalized news reports. The 24-hour reporting of every tiny detail of every single horror until we’re all afraid to even walk down the street. Although the irony is that violent crime has not increased in decades. A friend of mine posted this information on my Facebook page that you may find interesting:

  6. Pablo Montmeny says:

    Very well put Carrie. Taking the easy way out in parenting has become the norm and it’s too bad. It’s all about doing things with my girls and for my girls that cause them to come alive these days…