By Francis Ewherido
There wasn’t enough time to properly plan for this COVID-19-imposed stay at home. But staying at home is the sensible thing to do to stem the spread of the virus. Being confined is very tough to handle, but with age, I have learnt to surrender circumstances that are beyond my control to God.
One of the things I did when it became inevitable that I will soon start staying at home was to look at things I could do to keep myself busy during this period. I have not been exercising enough, so staying at home has given me more time for exercise. But I need more than exercise to keep me busy.
On my last day in the office, I took some books I have been longing to read or read again. I have not read a whole book for a while. Though I spend at least two hours reading every day, much of it is official and online stuff; then news. So, this forced stay at home is giving me time to live my other passion and I am loving it. I am already on my second book. There was a time when I read voraciously in my insatiable search for knowledge. The memories of those times are flying back.
Some people are not finding this forced stay at home easy and it is easy to understand. They do not have homes; they only have houses, so how can you stay at home in a house? The workplace and club house, which used to double as escape route and refuge, are gone for now. But it is an opportunity for these people to fix their broken marriages and families. Sort yourself out with your spouse and make a home out of your house. You have endured this your patch-patch marriage for too long. Humble yourself, dialogue empathically, forgive past wrongs and use this period to create a new beginning. Happy marriages are creations; they just don’t happen. Life is short and you deserve to be happy. An unhappy marriage is not worth the trouble, especially when it is within your powers and your spouse’s to create a happy marriage. My prayer for you is that your spouse should cooperate. Marriage is a tag team; it is not possible for only one party to make it work. You need the cooperation of your spouse, no matter how minimal.
Some people have also talked about using this time to bond with their children. That is wonderful if you have been bonding with them. If not, bonding at this time is only going to be easy if you have a young family where the children are 10 years and below. They are still amenable and you can easily bond with and mould them. But if the children are already teenagers or older and you have not been bonding with them, you have a herculean task at hand. One of the few social science studies that is universally firm and uniform is that the best time for parents to mould children are the first 10 years of their lives. That is when they are most receptive to training by parents. As children grow into their teens, they tend to bond more with their peers. A firm foundation ensures that subsequent relationships will be influenced by the character formed in those first 10 years. Of course, you must make room for their age-related foolishness, mistakes and rebellion. What is important is the fundamental core, which was formed in the first 10 years.
If you did your job as a parent in the early stages, you do not have to force your teenage children to do things with you during this stay at home period under the guise of bonding. The interests of many teenagers are different from those of their parents. Even the food they love eating is different from what their parents eat. Let them pursue their interests while you provide parental guidance. I am currently home with all my children. They are doing their thing and we (my wife and I) are doing ours. No problem as long as everyone is compliant. Now, only my 10-year-old daughter does plenty of physical bonding with me. We do exercise together and sometimes watch wild life videos together. It supports the universal research finding I pointed out earlier. Soon she will grow into her teens and begin to pursue her own interests. That was how it happened with her older siblings. They were all glued to me in their pre-teen years. I was their official “onye o’burushi” when they were toddlers.” If they poo-poo and I was around, they turned to me for clean-up. Now, they are grown and doing their own thing. We still bond, but I prefer them to take the initiative. They initiate and I flow along. It is real; they shoot straight from the heart and let me into their world. It is much more fruitful and natural.
Life goes in cycles. The family started with my wife and me, soon it will just be my wife and I. I look forward to that time. God preserving us, it will not come as a surprise. It is wonderful having the children around, but I knew from day one that one day, they must leave to live their own lives.
We were given other guides, beyond staying at home this period, to stay safe. We were told to regularly wash our hands with soap. I have been washing my hands regularly for a long while now because I have a sensitive stomach. I make sure my hands are clean before I hold anything that will end up in my mouth. All I have added are to wash my hands more regularly and use of sanitizer.
I believe that food is medicine and what you eat can enhance your immune system. I have increased my intake of fruits, vitamin c, vegetables, ginger and onions. I do not know how much they add up in these perilous times, but I just want to give myself a fighting chance if push comes to shove. I have also purchased chloroquine and azithromycin as a precaution. They are there just like other basic drugs in our first aid box. I am reading as much literature as I can on COVID-19, but I am not apprehensive. This too will pass.
The office is shut and that is no big deal. The big deal is that COVID-19 has grounded business. Office is just a location. The real office are my phone and laptop. In the past, I had been forced to stay away from the office for 18 months and I coped well. One thing that gives me joy though is that I now have a pre-paid meter and will not be billed for electricity I did not consume when I re-open. Previously, that wicked marketer would have accumulated N50,000 or more in electricity bill by the time I resume. God pass am.