While children have been back at the mall, mine haven’t (except for that one time last year my 5-year-old Juno had to renew her passport and she didn’t know how to use the escalator anymore).
My husband Jason and I are uncomfortable having them in an enclosed space like the mall while still unvaccinated for COVID-19.
Having once worked in mall management, I know how carefully planned and extensive the efforts must be to keep our malls safe. I never stopped going to the mall myself to buy essentials, even shopping for family and friends who have comorbidities. But with the relaxed measures, I see people walking around while eating or holding a cup in hand, unmasked.
We’ve taken our kids on a few outdoor trips, but never indoors. When I asked my 10-year-old son Jack if he wanted to go to the grocery with me, he declined, saying he didn’t feel safe.
The kids continue to slog through school online, and when the cases dropped, we allowed them to play outside again with their neighborhood friends who follow safety standards like masking and social distancing. I’ve had to be a “Karen” and had an awkward conversation with a neighbor whose son refused to wear a mask yet insisted on playing with the kids.
Safety talk reinforced
Almost two years into the pandemic, I’m glad that safety during COVID-19 continues to be discussed and reinforced in their school. Some virtual books on COVID-19 in Filipino have been read during their Drop Everything and Read sessions. However, the books were sadly not of good quality. Although the intention and need for such material was obvious, there just weren’t any.
So when we we received a copy of the latest from Tahanan Books for Young Readers, “Spikeys, Prickles and Prongies: A Coronavirus Discovery Story,” (P195, tahananbooks.ph) I got excited.
Written by Natasha Vizcarra and illustrated by Jamie Bauza, “Spikeys” includes a Filipino translation by Eugene Evasco.
Vizcarra, a former Inquirer editor and now science writer based in Colorado, gives a relatable scenario about the book’s protagonist, Tita Baby, who travels by jeep from Quiapo to her home, and how she may have contracted COVID-19 despite her best attempts at keeping safe.
The reader is walked through her life while in quarantine, and how she navigates the world post-COVID.
More importantly, there is an overarching message of hope with a fact-fortified push for vaccination.
Child-friendly explanations about COVID-19 are infused throughout the story as needed, so as not to overwhelm. More in-depth yet still age-appropriate clarifications are thoughtfully presented in the glossary and COVID toolbox for parents at the end, along with answers to questions kids might ask, and questions parents can ask their kids.
The tone throughout the book is matter-of-fact, not doom-and-gloom or scary for younger readers. Tita Baby’s tale ends with what readers can do to protect themselves from COVID. I particularly appreciated the part about boosting immunity by eating fruits and vegetables, getting proper sleep and exercise, as these should be encouraged. It also helps make children feel in control and empowered to do something.
While the lead character is an adult, there is content that discusses how children have contracted COVID as well, and what happens when they do get it.
“Spikeys” is an essential read during this time, as it arms our families with evidence-based news, backed by footnotes, not fake news.
In an article for the US National Academy of Sciences, Emanuel Goldman discussed how the unvaccinated provides hosts for COVID to spread, leading to more opportunities for more variants to emerge. When this happens amid the vaccinated, a vaccine-resistant variant will develop. Already, the Delta variant is showing cases of infections among the vaccinated.
Yes, we can now bring our children to enclosed spaces. But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. —CONTRIBUTED