It seams as if the life has stopped. In only few days the virus has changed our lives. Like every really dangerous enemy it is invisible, inaudible, it cannot be identified, it cannot be fought… So we did what we had to do — we went into isolation, into quarantine, to protect ourselves from the others and the others from ourselves. The towns are isolated, all public places are closed, there are no gatherings, no social living… we came back to our families, to the privacy of our lives protecting and taking care of each other.
What a wonderful reversal of fortune. What a beautiful opportunity for our families to come closer. Suddenly we have time for each other. Finally we have time for our children, and children have a chance to spend a quality time with their parents. Are we using this opportunity to raise the quality of our lives?
In the history of the arts, the best and the most interesting developments were made in the times of crisis. A crisis was always a stimulant for the arts. Artists reacted on the crisis, using it as a possibility for development of the art itself but also offering possibilities for solving of the problems. The Decameron, a collection of novellas by Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375) is one of the examples. The book contains 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men sheltering in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the Black Death which was afflicting the city. Those young people were in quarantine and there they were celebrating life against the epidemic of 1348 that killed thousands of people. Those young people didn’t accept the Triumph of Death but resisted death by celebrating humanity and Life. It was the beginning of Italian Renaissance — humanism born from the deadly epidemic disease .
The Black Death in 14th century cannot be compared with Corona virus that brought us so many problems. Also, we live in the 21st century and the medical care is advanced enough to take care of the epidemic but maybe we can learn something from Boccaccio and The Decameron when our way of living is concerned. Let us take a closer look to what were the young people doing in the time of quarantine.
To pass the evenings, each member of the party was telling a story each night, except for one day per week for chores, and the holy days (Sundays) during which they do no work at all, resulting in ten nights of storytelling over the course of two weeks. Thus, by the end of two weeks they have told 100 stories.
One hundred stories in two weeks!
“Well” — one might say — “They didn’t have TV nor computer games or cell phones. Nowadays we don’t tell stories, we watch movies.” My answer would be: — “Yes, unfortunately you are right! Nobody is telling stories any more!”
As in the 14th century Florence, isn’t our Time of Quarantine a wonderful opportunity for all of us to do something against this Triumph of Death represented by modern technology. Why don’t we get rid of the cell phones and other electronic gadgets at least for a moment and use this Quarantine to reestablish maybe forgotten communication between ourselves and with our children. Maybe this quarantine is a good chance for all young families to get closer to each other.
Tell your child a story.
It needn’t to be 100 stories in two weeks — ten stories would be wonderful. Each day one story. Read them to your child, don’t show the movie or cartoon. Tell the stories to your child and let your child tell the stories to you. Storytelling is miraculous power that is building up the worlds in our children and is guiding us in understanding ourselves and the world around us. Take our beautiful Chinese folk and mythological stories, take Brothers Grimm fairy tales and read them to children. Read them with emotional engagement and with tension. If you don’t know any story, invent them! Together with your child you can invent thousands of stories. Invent the characters, events … let the imagination freely fly!
Play with your child.
The time of quarantine is also wonderful time for playing. Play with your child, but don’t play only sports or games. Play Dramatic Play. Bring your child into the imaginative world of the stories and play different characters. Use a story that you told and play it with your children. Let your child chose any character from the story and you take another character (the other members of the family can also participate). Make a little changes in your apartment, use what you have in your home to build up the situation you need to build — the table can become a ship; chairs put together can build up a castle or a forest; boxes can serve as hats or masks; make your child a costume of a princess with the crown using your best dress or for a prince who is fighting the terrible Dragon or for Superman or for Monkey King with his magic powers. You don’t need to buy it on Tao Bao. Make it yourself!
Set yours and the imagination of your children free. Play without thinking and without teaching. Be together with your children in play and new life in this Time of Quarantine, a renaissance can take place in every family. Suddenly you will realize that there IS life without cell phone and without computer. After long period of time you will look into the eyes of your husband and your wife, you will see the laughing face of your child with the wooden stick in his hand presenting the magic sword instead of the cell phone and you will realize that this Corona virus came as a possibility for all of us to question ourselves of what are we doing?
After this terrible isolation is over, we shall remember our plays in quarantine, we shall remember the stories told or invented and this can be a pledge for a future, for a renaissance in our families. Don’t wait! Start telling stories, start playing with your children today because the quarantine can be stopped tomorrow.