They say that nearly 150 people have died of this flu in Mexico City and that the numbers are bound to go up. They say that all citizens of Mexico must stop using the customary greetings of kissing cheeks and shaking hands and keep their body parts to themselves. They say that the citizens should wash their hands thoroughly every chance they get and that if possible, when in large crowds, should wear masks.
Things came to a point of critical mass yesterday when the Mexican government decided that ALL schools in Mexico should be closed until May 6th, including our American Mormon elementary and high schools. As an added precautionary measure, our church area authorities asked that ALL church meetings be cancelled, including scouts, youth activities and Sunday worship services.
For those of you who aren't Mormon, you must understand that this is unheard of. I never in my life have been told that no church services would be held on a Sunday morning. It feels so completely strange and unnatural to think that on Sunday, we will forego the mad rush to find white shirts, black socks and shoes and ties for six boys (the girls, ages 7 and 14, dress themselves with no problem whatsoever, so I don't factor them into the diffculty level of the equation), we will avoid the stress of trying to keep the twins clean until church begins, and perhaps we will have time to eat something other than Cheerios for breakfast. We will still keep the sabbath holy, but without attending three hours of church meetings, I truly do not know how we will spend our Sunday. Perhaps we will invite family over for a simple meal in the afternoon and good conversation.
And so, until May 6th, I don't have to get up and get the kids ready for school, entertain the 3 under 3 by myself all day, have a lunch ready for the school kids at exactly noon (as there are no school cafeterias), run the kids to youth activities, scouts, and the like. It's going to be wonderful! While my heart aches for those who have been adversely affected by the swine flu, my personal life has taken a definite, unexpected upturn for the next several days. Today I assigned chores to the kids until noon (yes, I ruined their lives), including babysitting the twins (the 12- and 9-year-old boys), planting trees in the courtyard (the 12-year-old boy), mowing Grandpa's lawn and driving the van to the big town to see why the radio and the brakes don't work (the 17-year-old boy), cleaning bathrooms (the 14-year-old girl) and organizing closets (the 7-year-old girl). Once noon rolled around, it was time for the babies to go to bed, which was much easier than normal with the kids' help, then the kids and I got ready for the swim party across town to which we were invited (2.5 minutes away). The 14-year-old girl opted to stay home to keep an eye out for the sleeping twins while the 12-, 9-, and 2-year-old boys and the 7-year-old girl swam in the cold swimming pool until their teeth chattered, then warmed up by playing Star Wars with light sabers, only to re-enter the pool once they'd stopped shivering. I had real, live adult, intelligent conversation with some of my dearest friends, ate hummus, pretzels and watermelon by the side of the pool and looked forward to the coming days until May 6th.
We've agreed that we'll do chores each day until noon, then visit friends or invite them over, then, once dinner time rolls around, we'll work together to make a healthy meal, then we'll watch one episode of Star Wars each night after the babies go to bed until we've watched all six of them in a row. Tonight we watched Episode One while slurping homemade strawberry smoothies. Can't wait until tomorrow!
So now you know how the swine flu has affected our family here in Mexico. May the epidemic be contained and may I ENJOY this time with my kids until then.
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