“I’m Bored”

Years ago, my children learned those two words resulted in a fate worse than death.

My standard reply: “Here’s a scrub brush and bucket. When you finish washing the house, you can start on the street.”

Since COVID-19, however, my attitude has softened. Don’t tell my kids, but even I occasionally suffer from ennui.

Social media overachievers hasten to inspire me. They play board games as a family, with a minimum of bloodshed. They are pulling high school band instruments off the closet’s top shelf and practicing “Waltzing Matilda” with 500 other old band kids in Australia.

Workaholics are learning new languages, ballroom dancing and 100 ways to cook with vindaloo curry. They are painting bathrooms and portraits, creating life-sized origami NBA players. Some not only have finished Christmas shopping, but also have baked 19 fruitcakes apiece. Beware.

Some even (gasp!) clean.

The antidote for such pathological behavior, as many on the Internet have discovered, comprises consistent doses of nonproductivity. In a noble effort to help save quarantined humanity, I offer the following suggestions:

  • Count the holes in a box of crackers. Hurry, before they, like every other scrap of food in the house, disappear.
  • Teach social distancing to your goldfish.
  • Practice the polka. You know you always wanted to learn.
  • Recall your childhood paper airplane expertise. Fly a squadron late at night or early in the morning, when they’re trying to sleep.
  • Per video call, lecture children/grandchildren on the concepts of “rad” and “groovy.” If they close the connection, educate your cats.
  • Steal one piece from every puzzle in the house. However, if you share isolation with a puzzle addict, I do not advise this unless you have made all your final arrangements.
  • Ask your GPS for directions to Pluto. And no, Pluto, Mississippi, doesn’t count.
  • Practice mastodon mating calls on a garden hose. Believe me, this works. Years ago, when I was working nights and sleeping days, a visiting family’s seven-year-old treated me to an hour’s demonstration.
  • Debate the actual color of taupe.
  • Count the pens in your house that don’t work. Multiply by 23 and divide by 9. No reason. Just do it.
  • The walls may be shaking as your teens play a favorite song for the 41st time. But take heart. Knowing the words and music(?) so well, you can perform it for their viewing/listening pleasure. Then post the video on YouTube.

You can even project your concert on a giant outdoor screen.

Then your kids won’t become bored while they’re scrubbing the house.

And the street.

And the nearest water tower. …

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How have you and your family fought quarantine boredom?

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