How 5 Whys led to 1 Truth: Why my kid prefers to stay home during COVID

At least thrice a week, we take the kids out for a walk. That’s the very least we can legally do during this COVID lockdown period, with masks on of course. Other than the obvious health benefits, it’s something we parents desperately need.

Who can stay indoors 24/7 with kids without going berserk!

And let me just say here that, at the very least, it beats the heck out of attending yet another one of those boring 45 to 60-minute sit-in webinars that seriously teach you nothing. Nothing that is, that a one-page CliffsNotes can’t do in under three minutes.

But out of every three times that we get ready to step out of the house for our family walk, two of those would be spent trying to get Caleb to cooperate and come along.

For someone who used to enjoy going out, our dear friend has turned into an overnight recluse since the COVID situation began. He would throw the hissiest of fits just so he can avoid leaving home.

He was at it again this morning, running all over the house to escape our grasps as we try to get him to put on his walking shoes. He would cook up some excuse about needing to find this or that toy first. He would then proceed to insist he must take the toy along for the walk. He would carp that it’s too hot to go out. Too long to complete the walk. Too tiring for his legs.

In short, he simply refused to leave. Not without one of his now-signature tantrums.

Finally we had to bring out the big guns, threatening to take away his Osmo Awbie playtime afterward, or his favorite TV cartoon show. I call these big guns the “screentime threats”. The very reasons why kids need to go outdoors regularly in the first place.

So after yet another one of these dreaded parent-accelerated-aging episodes, I decided to get to the bottom of his objections. I decided to try the famous five whys interrogation technique, with the requisite fatherly hems and haws thrown in for good measure.

First why. “Ummmm…Caleb, why don’t you want to go out anymore?”

Answer: I don’t want to sweat.

Second why: Oh….hmmm…but why don’t you want to sweat?

Answer: Because then you will make me bathe when we return home.

Third why: Ahhh…now why don’t you want to bathe?

Answer: I don’t like to get wet.

Fourth why: But how can you be clean otherwise? Why don’t you like getting wet?

Answer: Cos it takes too much time to dry up.

Fifth why: Oh! Why are you afraid it takes too much time?

Answer: Because then I have less time at home to play! (complete with a look of exasperation at my incessant tirade of questions!)

At this point I had to slap my forehead. Of course! With or without Covid-19, there are already far too many fun things to do at home than there are outdoors. This is an imbalanced environment we exhausted 21st-century parents have been complicit in creating in modern times. Thanks in no small part to the big and small screens that’s come along to fill up our lives and keep us busy busy busy!

So why should we expect any kid to want to step out of the house at all?

In fact, as studies have shown, few do these days, compared to when I was a kid. Even before COVID, it’s already a common sight to see kids at outdoor playgrounds, but looking transfixed at screens on phones or tablets instead of climbing, jumping, and sliding! (Another forehead-slapping moment)

If this is the truth in today’s world, then all the more we had better brute-force our kids outta the house every good weather we get, sweat or no sweat!

So sorry Caleb, but we’ll be going out again.



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