A Pandemic is Child’s Play.
Hearing Maeve scream, I put my brush on the edge of my palette and ran outside. Maeve
and Robbie had set up a stall on the side of the road and were busy fighting over lemons off
‘Wanna buy a glass of lemonade, Mum?’ Maeve screamed. ‘Twenty cents!’
‘Only twenty cents,’ amened Robbie.
‘You can’t sell lemonade. Remember social distancing?’ I asked, absently retying Maeve’s
hair ribbon and leaving a smear of ochre pigment on an otherwise white satin canvas.
‘Who’s gunna stop us?’
‘The Police. They can fine you $1,300 each.’
‘There’s not that much in my piggy bank,’ Maeve said despondently.
‘Well, I’ll pay you one dollar each if you pack up your stall, dust the whole house except
for my art room, and unload the dishwasher. You’ll have to put everything away correctly.’
The children screamed with delight. ‘Then you’ll be thirsty, and you can drink the
I returned to my commission; an icon of Saint Timotheos, for Mrs Kostas.
Peace had been restored as the children raced around with the duster and a cloth. I put on a
CD of Vivaldi, considering a fun vac and mop activity for them tomorrow, and returned to
work with a smile.
Just over an hour later, a protracted scream followed by an almighty splash emanated from
the bathroom. I put down my brush, listening to a great gale of gusty laughter. Making my
way to the bathroom for mediation, I noted with concern bright flashes of light, bringing to
mind something electrical gone wrong. There were more splashes, screams and gales of
Standing in the doorway of the bathroom, I absently wiped my hands on my apron, leaving
a faint hint of viridian. Robbie was leaning over the bath, about to go on a bombing raid with
‘We’re playin’ submarines!’ the young military strategist informed me. ‘The paratrooper
jumped out of his airplane, and now he’s attacking the submarine!’ Peering in the bath I saw
a red plastic submarine lying on its side at the bottom of the sea, as it were. The plastic
paratrooper, was floating face down in the water, enshrouded in his bright blue parachute.
And cracked plastic toy boat was taking on water.
Maeve was standing on the toilet seat with a heavy Dolphin torch in her hand. “I’m sendin’
secret signals to the battleship in Moss Code!” she screamed, demonstrating for my benefit.
The torch was flashed into the medicine cabinet mirror and Ed’s shaving mirror, sending a
garbled signal everywhere but at the toy boat.
“Morse Code! I told you!” Robbie yelled at his subordinate.
‘Could you two tidy up the bathroom, lay the table for tea and study your spelling words?’ I
asked. ‘Save the water and one of you can use it for your bath…”
‘Dibs!’ screamed Maeve.
‘Dad will be home soon, and he can prep your spelling words,’ I continued. ‘There will be a
test tomorrow before breakfast…’
‘What do we win?’ Robbie interrupted.
‘One cent for every word that you spell correctly!’
‘So how much if I get all twenty words right?’ asked Maeve.
‘That, my girl, will be the basis of tomorrow’s Arithmetic lesson.’
Checking my watch, I decided that, optimistically, I had an easy forty minutes of painting
and Vivaldi before Ed got home, and the children started their next bit of rampaging. Just on
thirty minutes later, Ed rolled in the driveway and the children screamed with delight. ‘I
heard them through my window. ‘Did you learn anything in home schooling today?’
‘Yeah! We only just finished! Geography, reading, spelling, add-ups for Maeve and the
times tables for me and, uh, a whole lotta stuff.’ I glanced out the window in time to see
Robbie nudge Maeve rather obviously. Maeve nodded complicitly. And Ed smiled
I downed tools and met him at the backdoor. After a quick kiss, Ed asked, ‘So, the children
seem to be enjoying self-isolation. How about you? Home schooling’s a piece of cake, right?’
‘See, I told you it would be child’s play!’