A gift for the future

by Renate Dünki

The corona pandemic leads to measures around the world that serve to protect the population, but at the same time severely restrict our basic need for social contacts. Everyone is affected, and the Swiss Federal Council’s call for radio broadcasters not to leave the house in the interest of the common good encourages me every day to think about myself, but also everyone else, and to stay at home. Families with small children face particular challenges. Kindergartens and playgrounds are closed. How to deal with it and how can children be meaning-fully occupied and physically moved?

A good example is a kindergarten teacher who decided to send suggestions for small Easter handicrafts to all parents in town, also outside of her kindergarten. Many such spontaneous actions are mentioned daily in the radio programs.

In this context, I would like to tell you an example from my own childhood in Germany shortly after the Second World War. During this time, we children were not allowed to be on the street – we lived in a “broken glass district” – and we also had to move quietly at home, because we were accommodated in our grandparents’ apartment, and space was limited, as well as all things of everyday life. I was four years old at the time. I remember the seriousness of these years very well, but mostly the impression of solidarity. I was not afraid as long as I was in the family. What gives me strength even today is the scene of how the evenings went: We all, old and young, sat together around a large round table with a lamp above it. Everyone was at work: my mother embroidered little handbags that she wanted to sell; her sister was involved in the artistic painting of wastebaskets.

We children drew tiny pictures of flowers on small pieces of paper or made small gifts. I particularly liked decorating the lid of a tin can with perforated patterns – it was not easy and I was satisfied if it worked well. The adults gave us calm and friendly guidance.

Even today, I still enjoy being with other people – meeting with the neighbours or having coffee with my gymnastics colleagues – a gift from my family from former times.

The importance of family cohesion, especially in times of need as we experience it today, can therefore not be overestimated. Parents who are able to keep calm and guide their children in this regard will give them a wonderful gift for the future.   •

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