Last week, I posted about a strategy for keeping your young kids occupied during the monotony of the quarantine. Admit it, if you read my piece, you’ve been stuffing random socks into tight spaces. But what about our high school-aged kids? We’ve got two of those in our house also. Is there some crucial family-related assignment that will engage them after they’ve watched all the AP webinars, taken all the timed Google Form quizzes, joined all the Zoom chats, and, in New York State, done the “Regents are Cancelled Happy Dance”?
Here’s my idea:
In my conversations with many families, I’m learning that many people’s homes are populated with extended family and even friends. Some of these joined them to avoid the virus, others had to remain due to restrictions on travel and other reasons. So I suspect that many families are experiencing a phenomenon that occurs occasionally in my house. We have a multi-generational household in which a political debate could break out anytime all the adults under this roof find themselves in the same room together, which, as you might expect, occurs more frequently now than it did 6 months ago.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, quarantine makes strange bedfellows.
In these disputes, it is quite common for participants to draw upon a store of inaccurate information to support their positions. It’s only afterward, away from the heat of the argument, that these facts can be checked for veracity. By then it’s too late to marshall the truth to support one’s points or to assail the arguments made by opponents. I want to make an important point, I’m ascribing malicious intent to no one. It’s not just “other people”. I have caught myself frequently spouting facts and figures that I thought were true until I took the time after dessert to look them up. I’ve tried Googling under the table during these debates but I quickly found myself distracted by Twitter, Facebook, emails and all the shiny things that my phone offers to distract me from less than polite political discourse.
So, my idea (I told you I have one): Whenever a political argument breaks out around the dinner table, have your high school-aged kids grab their devices to, using the world wide web, act as real-time fact-checkers. Their jobs are to jump in whenever they discover somebody has used false information. They can throw a flag like in football or, like soccer, assign a yellow card to offenders. Two yellow cards and you’re out of the quarrel, and you have to sit out the next debate ( I especially like that part). I cannot guarantee this will lead to harmony in your homes but at least we will have more truthful political confabs during an already taxing time.
If you try out this idea, let me know how it goes. I can’t do it because my wife saw a draft of this post. She said everybody would be angry at me and I’ll have to leave the quarantine. Where would I go, you’ve already got a full house.