Children and play at the time of Covid19

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Gadgets were all set when the first public announcement for community quarantine came due to Covid19. Short films were downloaded overtime to make sure that boredom won’t have the chance to settle when online classes are done.  This is true enough among teens, but not for those aged four to seven.

Kids from our neighborhood in barangay Maa — Sally, Lilli, Amor, Peter, Danny and Tom (not their real names), are school children of public and private schools in this city.  They stayed at home even earlier than the city and national government have mandated for community quarantine. They said their schools immediately suspended classes to avoid the virus.

Tom, the youngest at four years old, wanted to go back to school because he was yet to perform on-stage after weeks of rehearsing his dance steps as they excitedly prepared for a moving-up ceremony just a few days before the community quarantine was announced.

Sally, 7 years old, felt sad and worried when classes were immediately halted as she would miss her classmates and friends because they were her constant playmates. Asked if she still plays while on quarantine, she jiggled and looked excited over her new set of friends whom she finds time to play outdoors. “Magbisikleta man mi sa gawas, pero naa ra mi sa sulod sa balay kanunay kay basig naa si Corona (referring to Covid) sa gawas,” she quipped.

Lilli and Amor, are both turning 6 this year. They have been playmates ever since and they are fond of sharing toys even if they just stay around the house. On weekends, their parents would allow them to take turns for a sleepover to give them more time to bond as cousins. They seem unaffected by the ECQ lately as they are used to just staying at home for play. They knew something is happening outside their houses because they can hear it from TV news anchors and said “President Duterte is always on TV to tell everyone to stay at home,” as they casually shared in a chatterbox.

Peter and Danny, 6 and 7 respectively, were quite different.  They gallivant around the neighborhood to play with other kids of their age. They both love to look for fruit-bearing trees so they can climb up and pick some fruits for fun.  They said there were also dogs around but they seem to know the art of befriending animals so it won’t harm them. Play for them is getting to places within the village and taking time to have fun with other children of their age.

Asked if they knew about keeping their hands clean, and readily they said “yes, because the school taught us” and their parents repeatedly remind them too.  But Tom said, “I love playing with water and soap” which is why Amor lamented as saying “but water is so dear, so let’s not put it to waste”.  Although, the kids admit how they enjoy doing personal hygiene like taking a bath or frequent handwashing because of the summer heat.         

The kids were finally asked if they would like to take some time to color some print-outs on animal figures before playing outdoors again, and they happily grabbed some color pens and printouts of their choice, which figured how children seem to naturally enjoy being at play or with other children for a simple activity.

Indeed, their actions speak louder than what we expect them to be at times when a dreaded disease like Covid19 has already taken over to control everyone’s movement. Good thing, these kids are also aware that “corona” is a virus they shouldn’t catch at all.-Sora Salaam

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