Today I picked up a brown paper bag from Kojo’s preschool.  Play dough was carefully wrapped in newspaper, dried flowers had been selected and placed in a small ziplock, small pots of red, yellow and blue paint had been poured into tiny pots, and each had a small label with suggestions for activities. There was a bottle of bubbles and some blue balloons with no instructions attached.

 “What’s the Coronavirus?” Kojo asked after dinner. 

It was first time I had heard him say that word. We had not been talking about anything related at the time. Although the word had floated around him during conversations with family and friends, we had not addressed it directly with him. 

I had not consciously communicated how uncertain the world feels right now. I never mentioned that we share a border with China where thousands of people were sick and hospitals were overcrowded. I didn’t reveal why his school had been closed for a month and he didn’t ask why he couldn’t go with me to school to pick up the brown bag that sat in front of us. 

The sound of rain brought me back to the present and the question still waiting for an answer. We saw flashes of light behind the curtains and then the sound of thunder. Kojo is not a fan of rain, yet. He’s frightened of thunder and desperately wants to know who makes it. He hasn’t accepted the answer, “Well, no one, really.” We have a book called Storms and he likes to look at the images. I used to think that thunder and lightening were so difficult to explain.

I will find a way to talk about the virus to our three year old. I’m an educator and have experience finding metaphors for complex ideas but it won’t be easy. We looked at the brown paper bag on the table pondering the difficult decision ahead of us. 

What should we do first?

2 thoughts on “Definitions

  1. The way you weave together the uncertainty about the origins of the rain and the uncertainty of around Coronavirus creates a pensive mood here. Similarly, “Kojo’s not a fan of rain, yet” somehow reminds me that the world will change, the world is always changing – this, too, shall pass. As a side note, weren’t you in Africa when you wrote last year? Sounds like maybe you’ve moved.


  2. So good, Vovome. How do we talk to young humans about uncertainty? About a world that is incredibly complex and always changing, where so much is outside of our control? This is something we all need to think through, our kids are listening, all the time. 🙂


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