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Updated on October 1, 2012

It started when a friend of my son’s declined an offer to come spend the night at our house. Thinking nothing of said declined offer, I was surprised when I received a call from the friend’s mother. I was even more surprised when she apologetically explained that her son didn’t want to come over because our house was “boring.” Boring?! Our house? I could think of a LOT of words which would describe our house, but boring was certainly not one of them. This kid – we shall call him “Bob” (because I believe in changing names to protect the guilty) – had been a guest of mine prior to this revelation.

It took a few weeks, but I finally finagled an at-home spend-the-night for my son’s friend “Bob”. Without revealing my plan, I wanted to observe this pre-teen creature in my own environment and possibly determine a significant explanation for why we are so boring. I am one of those unsettling individuals whom adore research, and thus I was about to conduct an experiment.

My observations were quickly rewarded with a wealth of information…all of which was openly volunteered by my son’s friend. “Bob” said our house was boring because we only had one TV. He openly shared with my son that at his house, they have one of every game system known to man, and every bedroom in their house has a TV, complete with satellite service. “Bob” also divulged the fact that at his house they have an extra refrigerator, which is always filled with copious amounts of soda…to which he apparently has VIP access. Then “Bob” started quizzing me.

Do you have iPads?”


How many computers do you have?”


Do you have a PSP?”


Do you have iPods?”


Then how do you listen to music?”

On the radio.

Do you have smartphones?”


My mom and dad do, and I have an iPhone …”

OUTSIDE!” I shouted in my best drill sergeant voice.

Giggling children scattered to the four winds. “OUTSIDE AND PLAY!” The last one out was my son’s friend. I hid behind the bookshelf and watched him as he crept into the sunlight. He stopped, squinted, and scowled. Cupping his hand over his brow, he searched for the other children, looking for signs of life. “Bob” seemed confused and unsure of himself. He was speechless, which I did not believe possible. Slowly, he took the first step into the wilderness that is our 11-acre yard. Birds were singing. The sun was shining. The dog was waiting, his tail wagging. I thought the boy was going to cry. He wobbled like a newborn giraffe, paused…took a deep breath and ventured into the landscape.

Suddenly my son appeared. He was soaked and was carrying a bright orange water gun. Without hesitation, my son shot his friend right in the chest and then ran for it. “Bob” took off in hot pursuit. The water gun war was afoot. I finished some laundry and prepared dinner. Once in a while I would hear peals of laughter as children ran by the house. I didn’t see the boy for 2 hours. Later, as evening settled in, I gave the shout out. Kids quickly arrived for dinner. I was not the least bit surprised to see my son’s friend shirtless, muddy, sunburned and sweaty. He even asked for a Band-Aid because he scraped his leg climbing a tree. “Bob” was proud of his wound.

The next morning, after we all made chocolate chip pancakes, “Bob” had to go home. Imagine his mother’s surprise when he begged her to let him stay. Her confusion was apparent as she furrowed her brow. I smiled. She expected to find a son who was dying to return to the comforts of technology. Instead she found an overly excited lad with a few new freckles and the pink hue of a baby gerbil. He told her he had the best day of his life. He told her that she never cooks chocolate chip pancakes. He told his mother that he climbed a tree and almost broke his leg falling out of it. He told his mother the other kids shot him, and that he stole a gun and shot them back. He told her they built a fort out of trees and sticks. He told her they found and fondled lizards. “Bob”’s mom deftly procured a purse-sized bottle of hand sanitizer and pumped his hands full. It took that woman 30 minutes to get her kid in the car.

My son hugged me. I asked him, “So, what do you guys do when you go over to spend the night at his house?” My son shrugged and said,

“Nothing. He plays games the whole time and sometimes I go outside and ride his bike. Sometimes I play a game with him. It’s boring.”


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    • KrisL profile image


      6 years ago from S. Florida

      Voted: Funny and useful, and shared! There should be a button for "well written" too. "Bob" is not the guilty party . . . his parents are. But if there's no place safe for him to play, what can they do?

      So glad you are giving your son another kind of life than the "plugged in" one.

    • Sarahredhead profile imageAUTHOR

      Sarah Jackson 

      6 years ago from Southern United States

      Thank you so much HyphenBird! You are always such a dear - one of my favorite hubbers by far!! "Bob" has been back for more - and I have a sneaking suspicion there's more outside time at his house now, too!

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      I love how you told this story. The element of humor keeps the reader eager although this is a very serious subject. So many people, kids and adults alike must be entertained by technology instead of entertaining themselves by using their mind and body. Earlier this year a beloved niece who adores me would not come spend time with me because we do not have cable television and she would miss American Idol.

      I love to see kids playing outdoors. A nephew spent last weekend with my son and those nine year old guys had a ball. They ran along a downed tree trunk (a huge one) with air soft rifles shooting at bad guys, rode scooters, played hide and seek in the woods and lots more fresh air activity. I hope "Bob" forever remembers the fun he had at your home and passes it on.

    • Sarahredhead profile imageAUTHOR

      Sarah Jackson 

      6 years ago from Southern United States

      Dear Teachable: Thank you! I grew up outside - no matter what the weather. I have been allowing my own kids to get dirty for years. So far so good....

    • TeachableMoments profile image


      6 years ago from California

      I love this hub!! Voted up, straight across. You picked a great topic and I enjoyed how you developed the hub with your fabulous writing skills. Nature has always been like a second home for my daughter and some of the most memorable, educational and fun family moments happened in the great outdoors. I hope more parents read your hub and begin to understand that technology can never duplicate the wonders found in nature.

    • Sarahredhead profile imageAUTHOR

      Sarah Jackson 

      6 years ago from Southern United States

      Thank you Faith Reaper! I enjoy YOUR writing! Yes; like you, I spent most of my childhood outside with plenty of imagination. Nothing wrong with that!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      This is just brilliant! You are such a gifted writer and what a great subject, "Bob" So very funny. Bless his little heart. You gave him an awesome day in the actual real world---who would have thought? Ha. I remember growing up and we stayed outside all day long and just played and played, and it was the best time ever. Today's youth are missing out of the beauty of childhood with all this technology, and all parents should take heed. Voted Way Up across the board. In His Love, Faith Reaper


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