addition to the truly grave aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a firstworld
problem that parents all over America are facing-along with looking
for a creative and non-abrasive substitute for toilet paperis
how to keep their children wholesomely occupied while schools are
closed. This can be especially challenging for parents already in
a constant struggle to keep their adolescent offspring from becoming
permanently grafted onto their smartphones.
In an effort to encourage my three teen daughters to use their unexpected
break from school as a time for personal growth (and cheap labor),
I've developed a list of activities that I hope will benefit the entire
family and society as a whole.
First, as referenced above, finding toilet paper has become more difficult
than an adult listening to an entire Billie Eilish song without wondering
if something might be terribly wrong with the speakers. (Yes, I know
she's rich, and yes, I'm just jealous.)
Why not combine arts and crafts with personal hygiene? I'm thinking
of having my children weave bathroom tissue from common household
objectslike the fuzz under our couch cushions, pet hair plucked
from my black dress pants, and a stockpile of our dryer and belly
button lint. Just think of how rewarding it will be when your children
clean themselves with something that they've crafted with their own
hands-while you save the store-bought stuff for yourself.
Next, it's important to teach our children compassion by checking
on elderly neighbors during times of crisis to be sure they are safe,
well supplied and sufficiently annoyed by people checking on them.
If you do take your children to visit a nearby senior citizen, be
sure to practice social distancing by remaining at least six feet
away so that your neighbor is more likely to miss when they throw
a can of hominy at you and tell you to get off their porch. And if
you notice a lonely senior trying to survive without a sufficient
number of bored and whiny teenagers around, offer to keep them company
by having yours camp in their back yard for the next month.
Speaking of the back yard, with the arrival of spring, it's time to
get the lawn into shape, which for my family involves cleaning up
after our two dogs, who have spent the winter transforming my property
into a corporate feed lot. With Easter just around the corner, you
can give your teens a chance to relive their childhoods by brushing
up on their egg-hunting skillsonly these eggs ain't brightly
colored or filled with Skittles. Armed with rubber gloves, an old
sock, or receipts from Starbucks, the kids will have a blast gathering
puppy grenades that otherwise will most certainly wind up lodged in
the treads of my favorite sneakers. Heck, you could even make it a
contest! The teen with the most "eggs" wins a free squirt of hand
These are strange and unsettling times in which we are living, working,
and praying for more Lysol. Family members must do all they can to
keep one another and our fellow citizens safe and healthy during this
global pandemic. Until the crisis ends, my family is willing to step
up and help by limiting our social interactions, checking on our elderly
relatives and neighbors, and washing our hands thoroughly-especially
after collecting our belly button lint.
Hang tough, be well, and God bless!