Jon K. Rust

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian and co-president of Rust Communications.


Family takes 'a whack' out of the coronavirus

Pictured from left to right: Katya, Anya (in back), Yuliana, Aunt Zoia, mama Victoria (kneeling), Liza and papa Jon in back.
Gary Rust II ~ rustmedia

Editor's Note: Be sure to watch video at end of column!

What do you do with six girls in an apartment for maybe weeks?

We had originally planned to be in New Orleans and Alabama the past week. Giving up a Spring Break vacation with wife, four daughters and a visiting aunt is a small price to pay if everyone stays healthy and we don’t complicate matters for family, colleagues and neighbors in Cape Girardeau by not traveling in and out. What finally sealed the deal was the concern of getting somewhere new and strange (we had booked lodging through Airbnb) and not being able to get home. I also didn’t want to get stuck away from my work team or parents.

Because the girls were already prepped to be away, and one of them had a lingering fever, my wife Victoria and I decided they didn’t need to go to school this week or interact with the vulnerable. We also expected schools to close, which happened. So what do you do when cancelling a highly anticipated trip to an interesting city (even the 7-year old had learned to spell “beignet”) followed by a few days at the beach? We call a family meeting, talk openly, and challenge the troops.

Maybe because we foreshadowed the decision in the days leading up to the departure as bad news snowballed, starting with odds of 80-20 going, to 50-50 and then 70-30 and finally 99-1 against, the protest wasn’t as bad as expected. In fact, they handled it quite well. The clincher, though, was giving them each leadership in planning family activities, dividing cleaning and cooking responsibilities, and challenging them with showing love for each other as Christ taught us, focusing on the fruits of the spirit, including: patience, kindness, self-control, peace, joy, faith, and love. Victoria also put together a daily schedule of meals, cleaning, exercise and family activities, which included more “free time” than the older ones expected, keeping them happy.

The older ones — 14- and 15-years old — even talked about how the Italians were singing from balconies to keep their spirits up. And in China: dancing together in their high-rise buildings, viewable to each other through big glass windows.

But do you know what the biggest hit was in planning?

Buying a piñata.

Naming it “COVID-19.”

And beating the stuffing out of it.

To appease my wife, I actually suggested we could fill the piñata with broccoli and cauliflower (I was thinking — or maybe I wasn’t thinking — that it could be packaged). She recoiled in horror, “What a waste of good vegetables!” The kids suggested it didn’t have to be candy. Almost anything would do. They just wanted to take their turn “taking a whack at the coronavirus.” So the girls filled it with wishes for the future: peace, love, parties, friends, a coronavirus vaccine, travel and more. They added anti-septic wipes and tissue paper, apples, oranges, limes and lemons. And, of course, a little bit of candy.

I decorated the bat with the fruits of the spirit, guided by my youngest daughter who recited them to me.

Some of the other favorite ideas caught me by surprise, too. The youngest wanted to learn and play chess. Katya, in the middle, leaped at the idea of the family acting out classic stories, including Aesop’s fables. The oldest two just wanted to have enough free time to keep up with friends on their phones and take long walks along the river. And play the piano. And maybe do a puzzle. And, incredibly, “get ahead in school work.”

Me, I just asked for harmony. It’s busy enough in the office deliberating next steps, touching base with colleagues in other states, trying to keep up with local news, writing emails and articles, protecting and taking care of employees, wiping down doorknobs, while trying not to worry about the stock market or elderly family, etc., etc., etc., that when I get home, harmony would be perfect.

It’s still early. But so far so good. Most of the time.

Some of the other key items on our list: Get plenty of sleep, wake up on a schedule, eat smart, exercise, pray. And, of course, wash hands frequently and at length.

For a video of our piñata experience, click just below.

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian.