Sandhya Acharya: I'm Bored

2 min

Parents have a lot to deal with when the kids are home 24/7. But one side effect in particular is testing the creativity of parents like Sandhya Acharya.

I am dealing with a new problem this summer. In the absence of travel plans or camps, the kids are at home, the entire time. Every few minutes a day, the sultry air is punctured with this poignant phrase, “Mamma, I’m bored!” Left with little else to do, I have been experimenting with different responses. Some creative, some insensitive, some nostalgic and some pure genius. Let me elaborate.

In the beginning, when the kids approached me, I brainstormed ideas with them. We exercised, painted, knitted. We even constructed a spinning wheel with suggestions of “Things to do when you are bored.” It was fun while it lasted, but as the longevity of the lockdown extended, that of this idea shrunk.

Then I began to counter the familiar complaint with a “When I was your age” story. I told the kids how we spent our summers plucking cashew fruit, making pistachio shell art and painting on old paper calendars. That intrigued them a bit, but then they wanted to know which orchards they could explore on their own, why would one buy pistachios with shells and what are paper calendars? I guess times have changed.

Another time I retorted with a plucky “It’s wonderful to be bored! My husband piped in, “Did you know gravity was discovered when Newton was bored and an apple fell on him?” But my high-emotional-quotient-8-year-old called us out on it. “That’s mean,” he declared. We pouted but stopped.

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The best way, I have finally concluded, is to counter the complaint with an invitation. An invitation to be a productive member of the family and do a chore. So these days when one of them comes to me, ready to spurt that dreaded phrase, I preempt it with “If you are bored, come help me peel this cucumber,” or “I was looking for you. Let’s clean up the toy room.” Immediately, their faces transform, their eyes light up and they bound away with the elegance of a cheetah.

“Never mind,” they say, “I just thought of something to do.”

With a Perspective, I’m Sandhya Acharya.

Sandhya Acharya is an author of children’s books.