Society

The recovery daze

Toddler  

My daughter and I have a severe case of cabin fever. Between us, we've been sick pretty much non-stop for the last three weeks, and haven't left the house, except for doctor visits or lab tests. In fact, going to the clinic has become the highlight of my daughter's days; she spends ages picking out her outfit before leaving, and sings and dances and generally makes merry while there.

But all good things must come to an end and eventually we have to come back home (after assuring the incredulous doctor that yes, this child has, in fact, been all kinds of sick for the past 10 days). And as we walk into the apartment, it strikes. Boredom, with a capital B.

You see, in the first few days of the illness, the house is in emergency mode, high-alert. Her fevers are high, she's crying and miserable, and you're absolutely focussed on keeping her comfortable, medicated and hydrated. But by the tail-end of lingering flu like this one, your main enemy is toddler boredom. She's still too sick to go out and play, or to be taken to the park or the beach or library. But she's well enough to be restless, and to want entertainment. Lots of it. There's only so much TV you can let her watch (and believe me, I've really pushed the envelope on that one these past weeks. She actually said she didn't like Dora anymore). There's only so much structured play and reading she can take before she (understandably) wants to (and does) fling said toys and books across the room. When all the entertainment value within the four walls of the apartment has been exhausted (and it's really remarkable just how quickly that happens), there's only one activity that any red-blooded toddler can turn to — whining, with a capital W.

She attaches herself to you like a limpet. She wants to sit on your lap all through the day. She takes it as a personal insult every time you (gasp) attempt to hold a conversation with another adult (over the phone or in person). The refrain, day and night, is “Amma! Amma! AMMAAAAAA!” Since you're tired and, at the end of your tether too, at some stage there’s a complete breakdown of law and order. There’s yelling, there's sobbing (on both sides). Then there’s making up. You decide to make an effort. You buy new games to play together. You actually do crafts together from that cutesy book you bought a year ago and hadn't looked at since. Then the boredom is back. And the whining. Lots of it.

But thankfully, there are still those occasional patches of positivity when she potters around entertaining herself. And you have the sense to let her be. What does it matter if every plastic box and tin you own has been pulled out onto the floor of the kitchen to make the ‘tallest tower ever!’ Or that she's ‘killing’ mosquitoes with your chappati flipper. Or that all your sofa cushions are on the floor and are now the bogeys of a train carrying all her dollies. Or that your new sari (which has not been put away since you wore it god knows when) is now lying on the floor, looking sad and crushed, after having served as her ‘tent’. Sometimes, just sometimes, boredom breeds creativity. And a mess, yes. But those few moments of peace — priceless.

Of course, sooner rather than later, she realises she's been remiss in her duties and comes and drapes herself over your knee, going “Ammaaaa!” But you've had your break, and you're equal to it. Plus, you have a treat in store. You give her a hug and say, “Shall we go see doctor aunty in the clinic?” She squeals in happiness and goes to pick out an outfit. And for a little while, all is well again.


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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 11:38:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/toodler-talk-the-recovery-daze/article6630267.ece

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