The COVID Diaries 6 – Learning things

I’ve learned a lot about myself these past few weeks.

I’m not a very good teacher, for one thing. I mean, I spend a lot of time teaching for my job, and think I’m all right at it. But that’s with adults, who are already quite well trained, are highly motivated, and for whom I can use words of more than two syllables.

But here at home I’m teaching an eight year old in our impromtu homeschool. I’m afraid that I’m not showing my best self sometimes. Big Girl is great – she’s switched on and fun to be around. But it’s been a long time since I was in primary school and I’ve forgotten whatever struggles I may have had with learning the material.

Try as I might, I often find the thought “how are you not getting this?” flashing through my mind. I have to remind myself that no-one is born knowing how to measure angles or generate English contractions, but it’s been a frustrating experience for us both. It’s a blessing to know what you *shouldn’t* do with your life, and school teacher is at the top of the list for me.

There have been moments of household friction in the lockdown, as should be expected. I’m someone who enjoys a lot of time by himself, but this isn’t possible with three small kids in the plague years. Wife and I are usually pretty good at getting on with what needs doing, but being around each other almost all of the time isn’t perfect. Little Girl has developed a disobedient streak (perhaps it was coming anyway). And Little Boy? Well, he’s 18 months old, so crying and tantrums are par for the course, but when it’s your day-in and day-out existence it can get rather frustrating,

I’ve been going for lots of runs to have a bit of alone time. I used to run a lot but retired that part of my life in favour of weightlifting a number of years ago. Our recent house move has forced me to store my home gym, so I’m back to lacing up the runners and disappearing in the evenings.

Running is perfectly fine (although my self-competitive streak is a hassle), but unfortunately it takes away from the time in the evening that Wife and I have to spend together. It feels like robbing Peter to pay Paul, but there are a limited number of hours that aren’t taklen up with some kind of child-wrangling or home maintenance. Lockdown is a kind of holiday for some people, but for us it’s definitely not.

I’ve recently tempered my reading of news relating to the spread of the virus. It’s not good for anyone to be exposed to 24/7 non-actionable stressors, especially when there is so little that changes from minute to minute. Be honest, that’s how often we’re checking the news.

It’s looking pretty bad in the US at the moment. The slightly fractured State/Federal governmental system there, which I have often thought of as a fragility-reducing strength, appears to be a liability at the moment. According to the reporting there have been periods where nearly 1000 people a day have been dying in New York. To me that is catstrophic horror.

We haven’t seen anything like that in Australia. New cases are trickling in but most states have seen a major flattening of the curve. It may be far too early to be triumphant, but we’re certainly doing ok, hopefully better than ok.

I was originally scheduled to fly to Indonesia later this week for a short holiday (round-number birthday present!), but my initial disappointment at its cancellationb has now resolved into relief. Things are looking very grim there indeed – no real insight into how many people are sick, no effective healthcare system, and a population that is moving widely across the archipelago at the moment due to Ramadan.

But the one thing I’d like to learn is the one thing that is very hard to get a real insight into. What is the actual case fatality rate of COVID-19? Of all the people who catch it, how many of them actually die, and what are their demographic commonalities? If we could combine that with hard data on how widespread it is in the community (asymptomatic cases incldued), then we might be able to estimate what we’re dealing with.

The learning continues.


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