“A case of Swine Flu has been confirmed late last night in a sixth grader at Madrona School. School officials have closed the school until Wednesday,” the NPR anchor said in clipped words that suggested he was trying his best to stay calm and not sound panicked or too excited. I went back to sleep.
Whether or not the current alarm over the Swine Flu is warranted, it still seems a touch surreal. It’s like I’ve seen it on one of the countless “unstoppable plague” movies. Television media has been over-the-top pinpointing cases, even going so far as to suggest it could be bio-terror. Even the typically staid, mellow NPR was in a tizzy. Our local anchor repeated over and over again. He repeated this again and again and again. “In case you haven’t heard…”
If I sound jaded or weary, it’s because if I am certain of one thing in life it is this: Besides washing my hands, I can do absolutely nothing to help prevent a pandemic. Maybe if the lines between Hollywood and real news blurred just a bit more I could fly a helicopter through a quarantined zone to rush a blood sample to the lab, but until then? I’m worthless.
Yet it’s real.
It’s real for that child at the Madrona School. It’s definitely real for his parents. For the families in Mexico who have lost love ones, it’s an outright personal tragedy.
It just got a little more real for me.
I live in a duplex. In the haze my NPR/snooze button session this morning, I forgot that my neighbor works at the Madrona School. An hour ago, he stood in the morning sun and scratched his head. The sixth grader was doing fine. The parents had caught it early.
“You know, it’s funny, I was saying yesterday, that earlier in the year, we had shots fired out in front of our school five days in a row. Right out in front, and all we did then was tell the kids not to linger after school,” Nick said referring to spate of gang violence that plagued central Seattle schools. He shrugged, looked out into the cloudless Northwest sky and shrugged again.
“I’ve got the next week off. I guess that’s nice,” said Nick in his happy-go-lucky way. “It’s not cool, but I’m not going to spend the week inside.”
Nick wandered off to enjoy a day in the sun before the rain returns.
I wanted to open this up for discussion. For parents though, the Swine Flu is just one of a million “what ifs” you face as a mother or a father. Kids go to school everyday and have to deal with bullies, classmates using drugs; the list goes on. So, does the Swine Flu scare you more or less? What makes this threat seem more severe than others? How are you explaining both the outbreak and the surrounding attention to your kids? Have they been asking about it?
I’m curious to hear everyone’s thoughts.
editor, The Outdoor Parent
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