07/14/2016 02:24 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Key to a Successful Summer with Kids? Let Them Be Bored. And Learn Extreme Street Fighting


Are you cramming your kids' summer holidays with art camp and swimming lessons and a lifetime membership at the local bouncy castle? You might believe that you're killing two birds with one stone -- alleviating your child's boredom AND preserving the threadbare string that barely connects you to your sanity.

But sadly you're wrong. Because what kids actually need is boredom and also learning Extreme Street Fighting. They don't get enough of either, it turns out. Between school and activities and play dates, your children have never developed the skills necessary to figure out what they like to do, nor have they perfected their parrying or head butting techniques.

If you're following the summer boredom regimen, you already know how this works because as you read this one of your kids is grabbing the lego helicopter howitzer desk that the other has been working on all morning and is running across the room with it. You and your children are learning how elbows can be devastating weapons when used correctly in the moments just after the helicopter howitzer desk smashes to the ground into little bits of Lego you will clean up after this evening's "happy" hour. You see what you did? An important Extreme Street Fighting lesson has been absorbed and you didn't even have to spend one penny on Grand Master chess scrimmages or horse riding lessons. Plus you get to spend more time with your kids!

Psychologists and philosophers agree that boredom is a lost art and the locus of all creativity. Children who are constantly scheduled with badminton tournaments and Broadway musical workshops will never discover the joy of making up a game using just a cardboard box and a rubber spatula. They will never understand how fingernails can be used for clawing and jabbing and drawing blood when one of your kids decides the spatula is actually the very prince destined to wed her princess Barbie doll. And as you're rummaging through the drawer searching for the anti-biotic ointment, your little ones will be weighing the merits of open hand strikes against the fisted variety.

When was the last time your child got to walk around the block with no purpose other than just for the sake of a good old-fashioned wander? Or ramble about the backyard with a bottle of soap bubbles and a garden hose? Leading with the dorsum of your foot to deliver a vertical kick can increase the speed and power of your blow, and that's not something they will ever figure out in Percussion Band Camp.

The funny thing is that when your child complains "I'm bored" some of us feel like we're failing as parents. But rest assured that you are much better than your neighbor whose kids are at the Lycée International d'été pour les petits because you're the one providing your children with the opportunity to solve the boredom problem for themselves. This builds up their self-esteem, their self-reliance and their resilience which is the trifecta of great parenting according to the last ten months of parenting articles, and you're also giving them space to improvise a weapon fashioned from laundry socks and dried play-doh.

Don't your kids deserve the chance to ride their bikes like we used to do before the internet? And shouldn't they learn how to master the art of taking a body punch because they can't agree on which movie to re-watch?

Youth Farmstand and STEM enrichment programs rob children of the chance to engage with the world as a "doer" rather than an "observer". Just like the greatest Extreme Street Fighter Bruce Lee, at the end of a summer of boredom your children will understand the nuances between whipping the edge of your hand horizontally to deliver maximum pain and vertically striking to increase the element of surprise after a stack of Pokemon cards has been repurposed as confetti for princess Barbie's birthday.

And now that your cat has licked the last of the anti-biotic ointment that was squeezed into its bowl, you can relax in the knowledge that your children are now well-rounded, confident and competent human beings who have more in common with Chuck Norris than you ever imagined possible. And it's all because you opted for boredom over the Montessori Insect Discovery program. Well done. Time for "happy" hour.