Had a chat with the kids last night about coronavirus. There are plenty of articles about how to explain coronavirus to younger children but I haven’t seen any articles about explaining it to teenagers who get most of their news from social media. My two thought the coronavirus causes all sorts of things like spasms and fits and madness. I had to tell them “no that’s your mother when she has just put the dishwasher on and suddenly 50 cups, stored under beds since 2015, mysteriously appear on the kitchen worktop.”
Teenagers face a different set of problems because their lives revolve around going out with friends. Cherub 1 wanted to know if she should still go to Manchester with friends next week and would music festivals be cancelled this summer. Cherub 2 was most disappointed to hear that Coronavirus doesn’t make you headbutt the pavement. I think he’d been quite looking forward to watching his friends batter themselves senseless.
My wee darlings were very surprised to learn that if you get Coronavirus you don’t definitely die. We talked about symptoms and the importance of washing your hands and not touching your face. Cherub 2 proudly announced that he is more hygienic than his friends. Given that they’re all teenage boys, this is not an achievement. Teenage boys are a seething mess of bodily functions and if my mother had warned me about this I would never have kissed Nigel the milkman’s son after the school disco in 1983.
Anyway, I digress. I advised the cherubs to avoid snogging, don’t drink from the carton (use a glass like an effing normal person!) and if they buy expensive tickets then they should get the insurance in case all events are cancelled.
Their worries were:
Will we get it?
Will you die if you get it?
Will lovely granny and grandad get it?
Will we be quarantined?
Will the hospitals run out of beds?
Will the dogs get it?
How can it get passed to dogs?
Oh no, our precious wee hairy boys, what will we do if they get it?
Is there a vaccine and does it work on dogs?
Will the dogs die?
Should we wash the dogs?
By this point the wee hairy boys were thinking ‘I have no idea what’s going on here but I’m enjoying the big hugs.’
I took the approach of being honest and sensible. Yes, we might get it. No you can’t get your inheritance now. Yes, lovely granny and grandad are more at risk of complications if they get it and no we can’t install surveillance cameras in their house to make sure they wash their hands. Yes, hospitals will be under serious pressure. Yes, cities may be quarantined so, yes, life could become OMG BORING. No, I don’t think washing the dogs twenty times a day will do anything other than ensure the living room carpet gets a deep clean as two Jack Russells roll about enthusiastically drying themselves off. And, cherub 2, the answer to your top ten million most important and highly detailed questions about vaccines is ‘google it’.
I think I’ve managed to dispel some of the rubbish they’ve picked up. Although, as chief purveyor of Facebook nonsense in our family, I was aware of the irony when I exclaimed incredulously, “do you believe every bit of nonsense you read on Facebook?!” To be fair, my nonsense is mostly about the benefits of cake, cocktails and men in kilts which, in these dark times, is surely what we need.