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Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease: What To Do When Your Child Is Quarantined At Home

Perhaps you’ve practiced all the good habits to keep viruses and diseases away from your family. 

But sometimes, uncertainty strikes. What do you do if your child is down with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)?

After the initial shock and concern, you’ll probably filled with dismay.

Worse, as your family could be carriers of the contagious virus, a self-imposed quarantine was inevitable. What are you going to do, cooped up at home with them for at least seven days?

1. Get into the groove

For Singaporean mother of two Tee Hun Ching, the first two days were arduous.

Confined to his room except during meal times, her son battled loneliness. Ever so often, tiring of his Lego blocks and storybooks, he would bleat: “Mama, what can I do now?” Her daughter, deprived of her constant playmate, was just as pitiable.

Over the next few days, however, they got into the groove.

Her son finished his holiday homework, to my pleasant surprise, then whiled away hours filling a notebook with his drawings and stories; his sister dug out long-forgotten jigsaw puzzles and re-read old books and magazines.

In between, he would set her assorted tests and slip them under her door. She dutifully completed them – simple sums, multiple-choice questions on animal facts and fill-in-the-blanks posers on English grammar – and slipped them back for him to grade.

2. Find the silver lining

They had a tougher time coping with disappointment though.

Hun Ching’s daughter, who had been counting down to her school camp, was crushed when told she had to stay home or risk infecting her friends. “Do you think they will hold another camp?” she asked with a quiver in her voice.

Tears swam in her son’s eyes when he realised they had to miss the popular movie night at their church. Held on the Friday before the start of each school break, it offers free tidbits and has long been a highlight for her kids and their friends.

To break up the pity party, she got them to look for silver linings.

A sweet friend of Hun Ching’s brightened up their day by delivering a dozen small cups of ice cream.

She was thankful, too, that her son’s case was a mild one. And thank God the rest of us have been spared, she told him. So their family road trip to Malaysia later this month is still on track.

“And it’s great that I get to skip my maths tuition and swimming lessons for two weeks,” he added, grinning.

3. Learn to make do

Boredom, as American writer and philosopher Robert M. Pirsig once said, always precedes a period of great creativity.

They held their own movie night at home, with bags of snacks to boot. To give it a camp vibe, her daughter dragged her pillow and blanket out.

As they couldn’t go out, Hun Ching played ping pong with them on their rectangular dining table.

When she finally let my son move freely about the house provided he kept a safe distance from his sister, they made the most of their reunion. One afternoon, she found them clutching one end of a skipping rope each as a pretend mic, holding an impromptu karaoke session.

HFMD also stands for “have fun making do”, she told them in jest. After all, her kids have shown that they are well able to amuse themselves without them even venturing out or spending a cent.

By Tee Hun Ching, The Straits Times, 6 June 2016

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