Even now I try to avoid being the person who has to draft the first draft. It’s so much easier to be the “reviewer”. The privileged person who checks, amends and upgrades the first shabby attempt. It’s like hindsight. It’s always so clear to see what should have been done, what’s been done wrong, not done or avoided. And it’s so easy to say so even though if you’d been drafting the first draft you probably wouldn’t have done any better.
It’s a quiet Sunday evening and I have given myself the luxury and privilege of commenting, of reviewing something that is not my business but in reality should be the business of all of us.
I have no idea how many children have been put into quarantine in one of the Auckland hotels and motels taken over for the purpose of trying to keep the demand for ICU beds and ventilators under control. Face it – that’s why we get locked down. Not so JacinTa and the little man with glasses can stand up in front of the media every lunchtime. We’re locked down, locked up and locked in so lots of us don’t get sick and die.
But if children and young people are being put into a contained situation I’ve never seen anywhere online, or heard on the radio, or heard the Commissioner for Children telling me who is checking up on their welfare during that time.
I don’t have to try to remember what it’s like with toddlers – within recent memory I’ve spent two hours straight “playing shop” with a two year old. Diversion was not an option. I also survived a weekend as the “babysitter” in a central city hotel when undivertible was a baby. I had forgotten how long and how loudly a breastfed baby can scream when offered breast milk in a bottle.
I thought the hotel would call the Police. So I have recent experience of being trapped in a small space with an uncontrollable screamer and becoming catatonic through participation in repetitive toddler pursuits.
If there is already a system of independent oversight for the children in quarantine and these things already exist, could you please let us all know and let us know how they are working and/or being received by the children and young people who are in quarantine. Because at the end of the day every child we put into quarantine is part of that Team we keep banging on about.
Do the children get allocated a specific and contactable individual who is responsible for them and their point of contact during their period of quarantine?
Do the children get given a card with contact details for the Office of the Commissioner for Children?
How would they contact anyone outside their hotel without their parent or hotel staff being aware?
Who can a parent contact outside the hotel if they believe the needs of their children are not being met?
And if we’re putting children and young people into a contained situation what are we providing them with, other than a moderately sized television screen, to divert them, entertain them and educate them.
Do the children and young people get provided with an activity box?
Old fashioned stuff like board games, card games, colouring in books and felts, crossword books. Those activity books where you have to find the things that are different on each picture, the names of towns, countries, anything. Glue sticks, coloured paper, blunt end scissors. Plain white paper, cardboard….. If Lloyd Burr can build the Sky Tower.
They could get one box when they come in and a new one to take home when they are able to leave.
I will never forget the fractious, parentally irritating little child who had been brought along to my office. I sat him down with some plain photocopying paper, some pages I had photocopied out of an old colouring in book and a box of felt pens – instant peace and quiet. At the end of his parent’s interview little child didn’t want to leave, wanted to stay and colour in and draw.
Do children get provided with snack boxes and fruit? I seem to recall being the mother of little grazers.
Nothing can justify the abusive parental rant that recently appeared on Facebook and in the media. It’s not the repetitive fuck, fuck, fuck – no one today gives a flying fuck about the word fuck – it’s the vehemence and violence shown towards the person the outburst was directed at. The same kind of abuse and violence that is directed to First Responders – firemen, ambulance officers, Emergency Department staff, doctors and nurses, teachers and those working on the frontline in supermarkets and public transport. That’s what it is abuse and violence.
But I would appreciate it if you’d let me know what the processes are for children placed into quarantine either because they’re returning to Aotearoa New Zealand or because they are infectious members of our community we need to temporarily contain.
I believe in all of those clichés about getting started, just doing it and no such thing as perfect. I know you’re all doing your best and it’s all so easy with hindsight and it’s so easy sitting here on one of the first evenings of Spring to ask you what you’re doing. But what are you doing?
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. She purchases her power from Trustpower and is a beneficiary of the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
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