I don't remember being bored as often when I was a child as children are nowadays.
And fostered children seems to get bored even more quickly than our own children.
A real-life Downton Abbey-type Lord of the Manor once said "The average scullery maid now expects more excitement in a weekend than her grandmother expected in her entire lifetime."
So maybe this increasing need for interesting things to do is part of evolution or something.
I remember once snapping at one of my children, when I was getting ready on a Sunday to go off to my second job (to make ends meet): "I would love to be bored, actually"
But I also remember some terrible days in secondary school in double maths. The logarithms and sines and cosines were always flying over my head. The teacher, a sad drink of water whose first name was Brian, didn't mind if we weren't learning, as long as we were quiet and appeared to be watching the board. For 55 minutes on end. Then, one Friday:
It was 11.45, there was a quarter of an hour left to go. Something began to stir in me, a slight panic, a bit of anger. A sense that life didn't have to be like this. That my time, my life, was being wasted for me.
I started to literally squirm in the seat. Every time Brian turned to write in the board I would writhe clockwise then back again in sheer frustration. Sheer boredom.
Maybe some instances of boredom are linked to feelings of helplessness, defeat, imprisonment. Maybe what's behind a lot of moaning voices saying "I'm bored" is that terrible feeling your life is passing you by, your chances disappearing as quickly as the days on the calendar.
If you're a looked-after child, you must feel as though you're starting the race a lot further back than all the other children; so what chance have you got?
Maybe the words "I'm bored" translate as "Help me get going in life, to feel a bit of traction, some movement." or maybe they simply mean "Give me a distraction to stop my mind going back to things I don't want to think about."
Whatever "I'm bored" means, it usually gets "You've got a pile of toys in your room you've never played with, and I have to peel the potatoes." Which means "Big deal. Leave me alone"
Now, if our looked-after child came and said "I'm anxious" or "I'm frightened" or "I'm depressed", we'd drop the potato peeler in the sink and go to work.
So what to do when the dreaded "I'm bored" is heard? It's dark and raining outside, there's nothing on the telly, and potatoes don't peel themselves.
This is a good one:
"Have I ever told you the 10 things I like best about you?"
"Well, do you want them in reverse order or the best thing first, I think reverse order is best don't you?"
"Well, at number ten, of the Top Ten Things I like about you is your laugh. You know, the slightly wicked one, like do you remember when I knocked that stupid china horse off the mantelpiece and a bad word came out?"
"..oh yeah.. (laughs)"
"There it is! That's the laugh I'm talking about! Love that laugh!"
This kind of play/work takes a lot of concentration, but you know what?
Peeling potatoes can be very boring.