The letter I would like to send!

Dear Mr Prime Minister,

It is 4.16 am on 21/3/2020 and I am unable to go back to sleep. I write when this happens. I am writing to you.

I wrote to you at the time of the bushfires and received a response listing all the fabulous, wonderful, brilliant things you seem to think you did to turn the world right again. I detected a tone of admonishment in your response. Recently you have become very good at admonishment!

The thought that woke me up this morning was a wondering moment. I am wondering how many politicians’ children are still going to school each day. Are your daughters?

My daughter is a teacher. She is a gifted, passionate, wonderful compassionate teacher. I spoke to her last night. One of the things she said really struck home. She explained how she had spent the morning before the start of classes, separating desks, wiping down surfaces, checking the online facilities and then “Mum, you know what? The bloody PENCILS! They share the pencils!” She brought this to the attention of the school executive and was given one box of extra pencils. What do kids do with pencils when they are musing? They chew on the end of them. They put them in their ears. They twist them round in their hair. They have been known to stick them up their noses. They stick them into each other! What did you do? Is it really possible for one person, or two people to oversee what every child in a class of 20, or in some cases many more, is doing every minute?

My daughter and others are providing resources from home to ensure that thing are sanitised. She is protecting herself. She has two dependent children one of whom attends the same primary school.

I am 68. Her childrens’ paternal grandparents are older than my husband and me. We all have conditions that make us more vulnerable than younger people. We are not in a position to care for any of our grandchildren. We cannot visit them. We are not alone of course! Her adult daughter is a student at university and lives away from home.

PLEASE CLOSE THE SCHOOLS!

Now, its not your fault that you and most politicians do not have a clue about how schools and in particular, classrooms function. When you visit them, the staff have usually had notice of your impending arrival. Kids have been prepped for days beforehand. Protocols have been explained. Classrooms tidied up. Special activities and events rehearsed and performed. So you cannot be expected to know of the extra pressure on teachers and support staff as parents drop their kids off before school and express, to the point of tears, their concerns about things in general and their children in particular. The teachers and support staff CANNOT GUARANTEE that their children will not be exposed or, worse yet, become symptomatic. I was a teacher for forty years. I was on executive teams. I retired in 2016. Things have changed I know, but not that much really. I believe that after the call to be a parent there is no greater calling than the call to teach. If our teachers get sick what then? Some of them are getting sick already.

PLEASE CLOSE THE SCHOOLS.

It seems to me that our teachers and support staff are expendable! Relief teachers are a dime a dozen. This is not a statement about their quality of teaching or their professionalism. Schools could not function without them. They just can’t get jobs! Its a “budget” thing! My grandchildren will not be adversely affected for life if they are out of school for however long it takes for us to get ahead of the curve, build the bridge, cushion the impact, keep on running or any other jingoistic platitude you or your team might come up with. In the event of their mother becoming ill or, heaven forbid, dying that impact will be unmeasurable!

PLEASE CLOSE THE SCHOOLS. PLEASE PROTECT OUR TEACHERS AND THE STAFF WHO SUPPORT THEM. IT CANNOT BE BUSINESS AS USUAL WITH OUR MOST PRICELESS RESOURCE – OUR CHILDREN.

I know its one of those Federal/State issues, the out clause that was used during the bushfire crisis, but can we allow it to put at risk our children?

I have had it clearly explained to me that the virus in children is not as bad, unless of course they are chronically ill themselves with life threatening conditions. Can that really be a reason for continuing to expose them to the risk of infection?

Have we become a people so focussed on making sure the budget will balance and our political party will win the next election that we can do this to our children, to our families?

PLEASE CLOSE THE SCHOOLS.

Its a puzzlement!

Four ten a.m. and I am awake and itchy! Its not an outside itch! Its an inside itch that is running rampant from the top of my brain to the bottom of my belly. Its almost as if I have been taken over by some stirring up of nerves and sensitivities and it’s doing my head in!

Trying to be rational, I rationalise. It started with the hottest summer on record. It got its wind with the silly season of December. It took off with the horror, terror, helplessness of the bush fires. The fires became town fires too close to turning into city fires. The breath was sucked out of me by the smoke when the whole world turned orange! Sights and smells coupled with generosity and courage that we have never seen before!

Always there was the good old Aussie Spirit.

The Leader of the country let me and all of us down for too long. Jingoism is his strong suit. Rain came, as rain does when Nature has decided enough is enough. Out went the fires and on came the floods! Soaking rain. Humidity. Mosquitoes and all the while, in the background references to a bug in China!

Holden went up shit creek and our Holden shat itself and we were without it for nearly four weeks!

Husband went to hospital. Into isolation! It’s not the bug from China but no more than two visitors at a time. Wash your hands, put on mask and gown. His kidneys played up in reaction to the antibiotics given to blanket bomb the infection in a place that remains undetermined!

Talk of the virus from China went up a notch. Hand sanitisers get lots of attention in the hospital waiting room. People frown at coughers and sneezers. We start to make a mental note of things we might need to do. A trip to the doctor and a blood test. I am assured that my blood is worth bottling . White and red blood cells are ready to “fight off any virus that might be heading your way”. I think how lovely!

We’re safe! She’ll right mate! Its not going to happen here! We’re in a much better situation than anywhere else in the world because we are Aussies! Aussie Spirit will get us through!

WOOFTA! Left hook, right jab and we are in it up to our necks.

Suddenly I am old. Suddenly I am among the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. Young people will get the virus but it won’t knock out their respiratory systems. We don’t have enough intensive care beds to deal with the high point in “the curve”. We have to get ahead of “the curve”! If the virus gets you, its triage for those over the age of – I’m not sure but I think I am much closer to it than I am to 50! If you’ve got a heart condition, diabetes, lung problems get ready to be triaged! If you’re on blood thinners, here comes triage! If you are obese, here comes triage!

Don’t go out. Stay home. Wash your hands. Social Distance. Self Isolation. Don’t shake hands. Don’t touch your face. Sneeze and cough into your elbow. Enjoy the extra money the government is giving you to spend to boost the economy which is going down the toilet quicker than you can say toilet paper!

TOILET PAPER! Good LORD! Has there ever been such on outbreak of sheer madness in relation to toilet paper? Clubs offer packs of it as prizes in the Friday raffle. People come to blows over it. Reefing if from trollies, hurling abuse, getting arrested and the Leader says “we’ll get through this by being Australians….. the wartime spirit will return and bring us together” … bullshit, bullshit, bullshit!

Its madness! This too shall pass of course. I am hoping I am not going to “pass” , the acceptable euphemism for death, with it! There’s not much more for me to do with my life of course. Had a career, banged my head on the glass ceiling enough to nearly, but not quite, break through. I became a parent, a matriarch. Had nearly fifty years of marriage. I really can’t complain should the virus take me out! But I would like to make it as a writer and story teller and live long enough for each of my grandchildren to have his or her own story memory of me to tell to their grandchildren. That’s eternity to me!

And I’d like to go without the worry of the two remaining generations of my family having to worry about toilet paper, or getting to the shops without have to battle through the aisles, or being fearful about what to do with their kids if the schools close but they still have to work, or how to live without a wage for two months of unpaid leave!

I’d like the media to take some responsibility for the fact that its influence is enormous and ensure that it is not adding to the havoc! That’ll be the day!

First world problems I know. Its the world we have created, selfishly. Australia and the good old Aussie Spirit are being tested. So much of the “legend” is proving to be myth!