Reporter Matthew Nash

Reporter Matthew Nash

Reporter’s Notebook: Rock, paper, lava: conversations with my kids about COVID-19

A bike ride or a LEGO-building session with my boys seems to bring the humor.

While making the loop around our neighborhood, we saw some neighbors chatting. As the boys and I had discussed, if we saw people it’s best to keep some distance. As we rolled by from afar, my 5-year-old waved and yelled, “Hey, have you heard of the virus?!”

To that point, I’d never heard him mention it or express any concern, but I’m guessing he assumes that’s what adults talk about all the time.

For my 5-year-old, his fears center more on volcanoes and bears; he’s all about being melted by lava or being eaten by a large beast. Last week, I listened in to one of his many concerns as I rubbed my hands for another round of hand sanitizer.

We strive to keep virus talk at home between mom and dad to quiet voices to diminish any potential fear in our boys.

Our 5-year-old’s imagination goes from the depths of the ocean to unexplored areas of space, so bringing in a concept like a virus doesn’t seem like the best idea.

In recent weeks, he’s been quizzing me on who hunts predators, like lions and tigers and such.

5-year-old: Who eats hammerhead sharks?

Me: Orcas, I’m guessing.

5-year-old: Who eats humans?

Me: Sick people! Zombies. Never do that!

Of course, I say this to a child with a palette of three favorite foods.

Rinse, repeat

Being in the news business, it’s unavoidable to experience the sea of information on COVID-19.

In recent weeks, I’ve read multiple articles about how to talk to your children about novel coronavirus, and they’ve sounded sensible.

Before writing a column, I wanted to talk to my boys’ doctor, and she reiterated similar sentiment to the articles. For children, we treat it similar to flu and cold prevention — wash your hands often, cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow (like Batman or Dracula), don’t touch your face and stay home when sick.

Or now, just stay home all the time.

My 7-year-old has asked some questions about the virus with some accompanying anxiety but we’ve presented what we know; healthy children like him should do fine so long as they stay safe. We emphasize the basics the doctor mentioned so that we don’t get people ill who might be more susceptible. He did throw a zinger at me the other day.

7-year-old: Dad, I feel funny.

Me: You probably just need to drink some water.

7-year-old: Do I have puberty?

Going from talking about a pandemic to puberty has definitely put a stress on my parenting knowledge.

This year was already a weird one with snow closures for Sequim, which delayed my boys’ original doctor visit. We rescheduled prior to local cancellations starting up.

Just going to the doctor’s office was a concern even for a check-up for two healthy children. As health officials are saying, phone ahead if you have symptoms of COVID-19, like sneezing and coughing and/or a fever, before coming in.

When we pulled up to the clinic, the parking lot was barren.

Inside the clinic, I noticed pamphlets, books and toys had been removed for safety purposes.

My 5-year-old surprised us all by bringing in some flowers he picked from our front lawn for the clerk at check-in. She put them in water.

I think we all melted.

Once in the examination room, my 7-year-old had to put on a gown for his wellness check, which as an already shy child, he wasn’t too keen on.

7-year-old *in his cute voice*: Can I just say I’m OK and she goes bye bye?

Take me out to the ball game in the backyard

Both boys got one practice in for their Little League seasons before virus regulations postponed their tee-ball and pitching machine seasons and opening day.

We were also readying for swimming lessons, which are on hold too.

For our 5-year-old, he was starting his second year of tee-ball with many of his friends. His coach started with teaching the bases and positions.

Coach *while assigning positions*: Who wants to play pitcher?

5-year-old: I want to play Tee-ball.

We all do.

We all want to get back to playing, driving, seeing our friends, sitting in church or the movie theater. It’s a weird time but we need to keep finding the humor.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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