The Virus Diaries: Fear

March 19, 2020 at 8:02 pm (Cat pics, Food, Fully Sick, general life, Mental illness, Mum Stuff)

Happy news, shoppers: Australia produced enough food for 75 million people (those links are to two reliable sources), and we are absolutely not going to run out*. Seeing empty shelves is at the same time terrifying (“Are we going to run out of milk???”) and annoying (“Ugh, I have to go without such-and-such for a bit.”). Also dangerous, because of course shops are a great place to pick up COVID-19 and a LOT of people are visiting shops more often rather than less due to being unable to find particular items.

Once enough people realise that we will NOT run out of food (or toilet paper), things will calm down and shops will look normal again. Apparently even on total lockdown in Italy grocery shops are still open (but only one household member can shop at a time, no kids are allowed, and only a limited number of people can go in at a time in order to keep them physically separated). So there’s actually no need to stock up at all.

I understand the fear, of course. Empty shelves are an absolute classic apocalypse scenario, just under “mushroom cloud” and just above “zombie attack”. And it is dead scary when I can’t find the milk I need (‘need’).

But this empty shelf thing is going to stop as quickly as it began, and probably very soon (based on those two news articles being in my news feed on facebook, which means the reassuring facts are going viral rather than the usual panic and misinformation).

*there may be a shortage of citrus fruits at some point due to a lack of labourers. I think we can all survive that.

In other news, my portable air conditioner is SUPER DELIGHTED to see you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wahoooooooo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m too lazy to look up the term outline of subjects that my kids’ impressively organised school emailed out at the beginning of the year. But I did get Louisette to read with me yesterday, which is just about the best thing to do with any kid. (If you’re one of those parents who gets their kid to read to them every day, you’ll do fine with home schooling.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Seuss is an interesting author. Some of his books (“Green Eggs and Ham”) make fantastic early readers. Others are full of difficult-to-read made-up words (recommended for Year 4+ I reckon) and others are a mixture. The above pic is Louisette reading “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” (doesn’t that book title sound kinda ironic suddenly?) which was quite challenging but perfect for us right now. (If in doubt, always give kids something that’s easy for them to read. Confidence and fun are MUCH more important to the reading experience than “getting challenged”… and obviously I’m talking to myself here.)

Here’s TJ looking impressively academic as he does a spelling test (“Don” and “bed” was the entire test).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning to read is an incredible task, taking years and years and years. But there’s no thrill like seeing one of your kids read to the other.

Other than, perhaps, the thrill of getting your standoffish cat to sprawl over your feet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She was especially gorgeous today, I gotta say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zipper has three main expressions. First is her, “I despise you” expression, which you’ll see in most photos—and indeed, most of the time in real life. She has resting feline face, that’s for sure. Second is her, “Ah, poor me! I’m starving and trapped! Please have pity on meeeee!” which is the face she applies when she would like me to check her food level (it’s easier to have me check it than to bother doing it herself) or open a door (why YES she has a fully functional two-way cat door that she is perfectly able to use). The third is the expression above, which I call, “Medieval maiden disturbed while bathing in a picturesque pool in the forest”. She is beautiful, and wishes to be admired, but is far too classy to actually let people look directly at her without being offended. So yeah, she’s a cat.

That bit of broken blue plastic is a ball pit ball that was smashed by hail back when Australia was burning/flooding/storming. We haven’t fully cleaned everything up yet.

It does feel rather like we’re being hit by several apocalypses one after the other. Technically “apocalypse” means the end of the world. As in, Jesus comes back but not in a nice way. But language is flexible, and it’s come to mean “the end of normal society” which is a very different thing. Any war is utterly disrupting, and therefore apocalyptic. So is the COVID-19 pandemic. Us scifi writers have been predicting various kinds of major societal change since science fiction was invented—not because we definitely think the world is doomed, but because we have enough imagination to think that it could, and to wonder what that might look like.

There are loads of fictional books on pandemics (many of them predicting this year, since 2020 has always been a cool and futuristic-sounding year), because we have a very connected and populated world, and infectious diseases are a thing. A major pandemic was always going to happen, much like worsening droughts, fires, and extreme weather temperatures (although, as I pointed out yesterday, one of the likely side-effects of the COVID-19 virus is that the environment will benefit as people realise society is a lot more flexible than we thought). So here are my wild guesses as to what our post-coronavirus world will look like:

*A lot more people will homeschool, because they’ll discover a knack they never knew they had.

*Rights and protections for casual workers will be dramatically increased.

*Health Care (both infrastructure and staff) will suddenly be a higher priority around the world.

*Politicians, celebrities, and business-people of various kinds will use less air travel. Because no one actually LIKES long-haul travel, and because the appeal and the sheer habit of face-to-face contact will be considerably lessened.

*Many businesses will fail, including airlines, small businesses (such as escape rooms and book publishers, sadly), and restaurants. Other businesses (steaming services, DISNEY, internet services, delivery services, chatting services (Zoom especially), and home-schooling programs will make a considerable profit.

*Book sales, on the whole, will go up and even when the major demand period is over, will stay higher than they currently are—especially ebooks. Because people will most definitely have more time for reading, and some of them will form habits that last.

*Sales of antiseptic/antibiotic hand washes will go up and stay up as a lot of people add them permanently to their daily routine. (The next pandemic will of course evolve to be immune to antibiotics.)

*The world will develop a cooperative system in which health care workers travel across the world to assist when pandemics happen. They will have paid quarantine periods after returning home. Those who do get sick and recover will be in the front lines when their own country is having a surge of whatever illness it is, because they will be immune. Governments will issue immunity passes, and those with them will be paid well to do a lot of important jobs (health care of course, but also food delivery, child care, etc).

*More companies will organise themselves so that they can manufacture what is needed when there is a surge in value eg a paper towel company switching to toilet paper, perfume companies switching to sanitiser (this is happening in France), and so on.

*There will be a lot of divorces, and a baby boom.

*A lot of people will quit their jobs to start small businesses, to home school, to write a novel, etc. Most of them will get over it within 12 months.

*Most people will know somebody that has died from the COVID-19 virus (or the inability to get medical care due to an overwhelmed health system), and the world population will dip by 1% overall (the world population is steadily growing, so it won’t actually decrease the population, just slow it). People’s grief won’t be lessened because we had some warning, but it will be shared on a global level (for better or worse). It’ll be a little like Princess Diana’s death, in that strangers will be deeply affected—but those who lose someone close to them may or may not be soothed by the “shared grief” effect. (Remember your manners when others are grieving: if the person you are talking to is closer to the dead person than you, then your grief is less important than theirs. Don’t talk, listen. If you’ve lost someone very close to you, go ahead and talk. Or be silent. Whatever works for you and doesn’t harm anyone else is healthy. Don’t talk excessively about your connections to dead people you barely know.)

*Many countries around the world will crack down on those who spread fake news online. It will never be as easy to spread misinformation as it is now, although trolls and politicians will get creative in attempting to circumvent new laws. There will be a lot of people whose whole job will be to monitor and fact-check stuff before it gets to the public. People who spread deadly misinformation will be charged with manslaughter and will go to jail.

*People will, unfortunately, be even more xenophobic than they are now. (Please don’t let it be you, Dear Reader.)

 

 

There are many types of fear at the moment.

*Fear of actually dying. That’s something I’ll talk about another day.

*Fear of losing a loved one. Unfortunately, this is moderately rational. Right now is a good time to make sure you’re at peace with your parents, grandparents, and siblings. And to teach your elderly relatives to Skype, if you possibly can. (Or you can learn to talk on the phone again.) And then, unfortunately, to stop visiting them for several months.

*Fear of the invisible enemy. It really is like a horror movie where we can’t see the baddie, isn’t it? My favourite thing about being in isolation is that I feel like I can relax in some ways. If my kids get it, I’ll get it—that’s just life, and I could spend my life scrubbing or I can just accept it.

*Fear of running out of food/toilet paper. This is paramount for most people at the moment (so much closer to where we live than the fear of dying), although I think it’s going to get better in a week or two as shops return to normal and we all look at one another and say, “Er, sorry I panicked a bit there”.

*Fear of infrastructure failing. Hospitals are the most at risk, obviously. The whole point of self-isolation is to slow the virus down and flatten that curve so things don’t get as bad as they are in Italy. I’m terrified of power and/or the internet cutting out, and I think it’s possible that could happen for up to three days. Ditto drinking water, and garbage collection. And toilets (handy hint: a half bucket of water poured down a toilet will cause it to flush just fine)…PSA: DON’T flush tissues, wipes, etc down your toilet if you don’t have toilet paper. Put them in a bag in the bin or you could be the a-hole who blocks up sewage in your neighbourhood. I have some water bottles filled up and I’ll be careful to keep my laptop and the kids’ devices fully charged as much as possible. Phones will likely be fine as long as we don’t have a major event like a bushfire or hailstorm (in which case everyone calls everyone in the same five minutes and the system gets overwhelmed). But with skeleton crews of staff due to quarantines/illness, it’s possible even our phones will die for a bit. At least we’ll likely be at home with our loved ones when that happens. Don’t worry: everyone knows that any of these disasters are Serious, and they WILL be fixed quickly. Like I said, I reckon if there is serious disruption it won’t last more than three days at the absolute maximum. This coronavirus thing is a big deal, but it’s not a movie. Not everything will go wrong, honest.

*Fear of lost income. I’ve personally lost a few thousand dollars due to the cancellation of various events. It’s not fun. Others have it much worse. I don’t have any answers for you, except to make sure your friends know if you can’t buy food. This is one of the times when we have to support each other.

*Fear of keeping kids at home. Yeah, that’s a big one isn’t it?

In unrelated news, TJ now likes to sing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” at full volume, and has also begun making up new verses including the following: “In the poo poo, the mighty poo poo, the lion poos tonight…”

So that is the soundtrack of our personal corner of the apocalypse. But of course I appreciate that most families with young children will have them shouting “Into the unknooooown! Into the unknooooown! Into the unknOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWN!” and it would be a rather extraordinary 5 year-old who could hit those notes like Idina Menzel.

So. I’m one of the lucky ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I deliberately bought Nutella (hazelnut chocolate spread) because it’s an awesome treat that might inspire the kids to continue eating sandwiches. We’re low on bread so today we used wraps. My kids are already enthralled with the novelty of wraps (as opposed to… er… bread) and Louisette was especially impressed that I cut hers into “pretend sushi”.

Then I made both butter chicken and lemon chicken for dinner (a big effort) and both of our little punks refused to eat it. At which point I said, “I’ll be in my room” and let Chris negotiate them into eating… something.

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Fear is a big deal, and it’s okay to feel scared as the world changes around you.

The most important thing is not whatever is screaming at you in your head (The LION POOPS TONIIIIIGHT… and he’s never ever going to stop and I’m going to snap and burn our house down just to make it stop), but make sure that before you act on your fear you ask yourself this question:

When this is over, who do I want to be?

Do I want to be the screaming woman snatching toilet paper from another woman in a supermarket?

Do I want to be the one with a full cupboard of hand sanitiser whose neighbour died because they kept going to the shops looking for some sanitiser of their own?

Do I want to be the one who was so concerned about the kids touching their faces that she screamed at them until they cried?

Do I want to be the one ignoring scientists and endangering the vulnerable by refusing to obey medical advice about hygiene and isolation?

Do I want to be the one spreading misinformation that makes people less safe?

Do I want to be the one yelling at an overworked and scared nurse who is too busy to answer some questions that I could probably google for myself?

 

Or, do I want to be the mum that made up dumb songs for the kids to sing for 20 seconds as they wash their hands?

Do I want to be the one who sorted the pantry and found a whole lot of canned vegetables to give away to a health care worker right when there were none to be found in the shops?

Do I want to be the one who made their diabetic friend feel safe by checking in on him every day, and doing his grocery shopping so he could self-isolate?

Do I want to be the one who decided that a single mum I barely know would be officially part of our family, so we could self-isolate together (eg swapping the kids back and forth, but not seeing or visiting anyone else)?

Do I want to be the one who keeps their own family close, but remembers to be considerate of the rest of the world too?

Do I want to be the one sharing happy or funny content to help other people to remember that we’re more than our fears?

Resource of the day: The weather is gorgeous! Go outside and play. It’ll tire out your kids and adorably freak out your cat!

Recommended donation of the day:

If you either have kids or like kids and you know someone who is going to struggle to keep their kids home from school, adopt them into your family and share the child care load together. (Be aware that child care is a big deal and a lot of parents will instinctively say no. That is fine.) Bonus points if they’re a health care or supermarket worker. We want those people to stay at work if they can!

Recommended personal action of the day: Wash your shopping bags and/or hang them in the sun.

Recommended hoarding item of the day: A hammock and/or tent so you can feel like you’re on vacation in your back yard.

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