What To Do With No Electronics

CootieGirl has been struggling with her grades this quarter, and the result is that for about a month now she’s had no access to her laptop or phone. At first she was very upset, but I think now she’s used to it, because we find ways to occupy her time. She still has access to TV, so we’ve been watching a lot of movies together and bonding over our girl time.

Last night she wanted to watch a movie with me, but since I was busy with something she opted to hit up the Bored Box instead. Have you heard of a Bored Box? Sometimes it’s called a Bored Jar, but we didn’t have a jar so I pulled out my Doctor Who lunchbox and we’re using that instead. Lots of folks use them to keep their kids from becoming bored around the house. On the computer I typed up about 60 tasks, then printed them and cut them into strips. When the kids say, "I’m bored," they have to go to the box, pull out a strip and do whatever is written there – and they can’t swap out for something else.

The strips can be anything from clean the sinks in all three bathrooms, or vacuum the first floor rugs, or it can be fun/weird things like make up a list of 10 silly names for book characters, or draw a picture of a dinosaur carrying a bunch of flowers while climbing a mountain.

Last night CG was bored waiting for me to finish what I was doing, so she hit up the box. "Look up the word ‘precarious’ in the dictionary."

"Mom, where’s the dictionary?"

"I have no idea."


We went investigating in the living room bookcases and in the process she kept asking about some of the books I had on the shelves. Then she spotted a scrapbook.

"What’s that?"

I pulled it out and handed it to her. "Our wedding photos."

"Can I see them?"


She snatched the scrapbook from my hands and began flipping through the pictures, asking who everyone was. She commented on how lovely the outside of the church, questioned why we had a bagpiper playing after the ceremony, wondered why we took a picture on a golf cart, commented on how pretty I looked, how young the cousins looked, how large my friend LP’s eyebrows were (they really were), how beautiful the cake was.

"Do you still have your dress?"

"I do," I said, tugging on her ponytail. "I saved it in case you wanted to wear it some day."

She nodded her head, still looking at a picture of me in the dress, holding my bundle of calla lilies in my hands.

I’m not going to get maudlin here. You are expecting me to post about how we hugged and she whispered that she WOULD wear my dress some day, and would be proud to do so, and then cried together as we both imagined that day. Is that what you are expecting? Because – VINYL RECORD SCRATCH – nope.

She shut the scrapbook and threw it on the coffee table, saying, "We still need to find the dictionary." We went back to the bookcase, and eventually I saw it tucked to the side of the case. She grabbed it up (it’s huge) and said, "Why do you need a dictionary this big?"

"For playing Scrabble."


Good point.

She looked up the word precarious, and once done, asked for another word. I gave her a few.

A few others.

"I’ve got two words for you, CG. Eschew obfuscation."

"A shoe what?"

"Eschew obfuscation." I wrote the words down so that she could see what she was looking up.

She looked up eschew. To avoid.

She looked up obfuscation. To be unclear.

She looked up at me. "So?"

"In other words, avoid being unclear. You know how to do that?"


"Don’t use big words when you talk. No one will know what you are saying."

She laughed, saying, "I know what irony is," and shut the dictionary.

A few minutes later, we were talking with CootieBoy, and he said a surprisingly advanced word. I looked at CG and said, "Sounds like he needs to eschew obfuscation too."

She got the biggest kick out of that, and refused to tell CB what those two words meant.

She said, "Look ’em up in the dictionary if you want to know so bad."

That’s my girl.

So next time your kids are bored, make them start looking up words in the dictionary, show them your wedding album, create a Bored Box (my kids had a blast coming up with ideas for ours). Because all of those are infinitely more engaging and fun than debating whether you want to watch Jennifer Garner in "13 Going on 30" or "Alias."

(by the way, in our house the answer is: "both" – because I love Jennifer Garner and secretly wish she and I could be best friends)

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