Reportage. ‘Our children’s problems can’t be erased just because their presence doesn’t fit at all with the public discourse that has developed around this emergency.’

Parents are in crisis, awaiting a plan for their children

They listened to Conte’s speech, read and reread the articles summarizing the press conference—but there was nothing, no mention of the children at all.

“And it’s certainly not enough to say that the schools will reopen in September,” explains a dad from Bologna who will protest in front of his front door on Thursday, holding a sign with the words “There are children living here.” This will be his way to “publicly confess” the existence of the children, since “the government seems to be unwilling to take them into account.”

“There is no plan and no perspective, the little ones have been made to disappear from public discourse,” says Chiara Gius, a precariously employed researcher, sociologist and mother of a 5-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy.

Like many others, she will answer the call of the “Cinnica” association in Bologna to take part in a voluntary public consultation for a child-friendly city. The participants will hold a sign in front of every door, share the photo online and express their desire to be heard and to matter. Why are they protesting? “My daughter is no longer carefree, while some friends’ children have developed forms of anxiety in connection with the lockdown,” she explains.

What measures have been added to “phase two” to deal with all of this? So far, nothing at all, the angry parents are saying.

“Our children’s problems can’t be erased just because their presence doesn’t fit at all with the public discourse that has developed around this emergency. Our children will not disappear just because the schools will be closed,” reads the Facebook page of the Bolognese public consultation.

There is the drought of educational services from now until September, the reopening of the factories and offices, the grandparents who, if they are even there, have to look after their own health because the virus has certainly not disappeared, the summer that is approaching, the days off that have been already used up to face the first weeks of seclusion with the children, the babysitter bonus that is quickly running out. Who will take care of the kids? Where’s “phase two” for them? Couples and single parents are faced with the impossible task of squaring the circle.

“It’s not just that the children are asking to see their friends,” says Simone Pierini, a dad from Bologna. ”There is also anxiety, fear, screaming and crying when it comes to getting out of the house. Some of the older children have developed forms of gaming addiction.”

Matilde Pescali is a freelancer with three children. Her 4-year-old girl “has regressed after a month of being locked in the house, and now she speaks like she did when she was 2 and a half years old.”

Her two older children, in second and fifth grade, are doing what they can. “The little one is doing an hour of video lessons per week, and otherwise communicates with the teachers by email.”

“But the one in fifth grade has to spend almost three hours in front of the computer per day.” Or at least he would, if he didn’t have a specific type of learning disorder that prevents him from being able to concentrate in front of the screen. “There are five of us living in 80 square meters,” Matilde concludes. “My partner and I will certainly not be able to go on like this, and sooner or later one of us will have to stop working. We have endured and followed the rules while waiting for phase two. And what is the government saying now? To us, not a word.”

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