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Normally teeming with activity, a high school hallway with lockers sits empty. No one, including teenagers, enjoys being a shut-in during these days of physical isolation, writes David Eddie.

manley099/stock

The question

My daughter is graduating from high school in June, 2020. She applied to a local college in the nursing program. I’m now afraid for her life. My son is at home and has never experienced anything like this lockdown and physical distancing. He goes to sleep at 2 a.m. and wakes up at 12 p.m. most of the time. I’m worried about both of them, for different reasons. What should I be doing for each?

The answer

Of parenting worries there is never an end, one discovers in time. Only the grave, and the sweet release of death, will bring any kind of peace.

But, right now, parenting is especially worrisome. And to be the parent of an aspiring front-line worker in this environment? I feel your pain.

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All I can say – well, I can say several things.

First, and I write this quite literally with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye, my hat is off (metaphorically) to the front-line workers of every kind – ambulance drivers, doctors, paramedics and so on – many of whom, I’ve read, are living in their own driveways in RVs (many of them donated by well-wishing people and companies, which is lovely) in order to maintain physical distance from their families.

Heroism? Fuggedaboudit. This is above and beyond. They know they’re risking their lives every day – and many have fallen – but they do it anyway.

In regard to your daughter, I understand your worry, and concern, and possibly even fear. My mother was a nurse, so I have a soft spot for them. Still, I think I can say with a modicum (or perhaps just a soupçon) of objectivity that when push comes to shove a nurse is what you need in times of need. Doctors come and go, and that is wonderful, but nurses are there for you on a much more hands-on basis. We need nurses, perhaps now more than ever.

So I would encourage your daughter to pursue her profession. But also, of course, caution her as well: “Hey, nursing has never been easy, but it’s even harder now. As long as you know what you’re getting into I’m behind you all the way."

Your son is a whole different matter. No one – at least, as far as I can tell – is enjoying being a shut-in. Personally, I’m allowing my teenage son to keep his own schedule. He’s doing his online classes, but apart from that if he wants to stay up late and wake up late – well, as far as I’m concerned these days all those types of bets are off.

What we’re trying to do is make the most of it. Bond as a family. Spend time together. Watch movies and play Parcheesi or backgammon or whatnot. Seems to me it’s all you can do under the circumstances.

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Are you in a sticky situation? Send your dilemmas to damage@globeandmail.com. Please keep your submissions to 150 words and include a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.

Sign up for the weekly Parenting & Relationships newsletter for news and advice to help you be a better parent, partner, friend, family member or colleague.

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