The Utrecht-based writer Anne Eekhout is writing special mini-columns about life in times of coronavirus for Thuisagenda Utrecht. We’ve translated them in English for the Home Agenda of MAG Utrecht. 

Now that we’re all stuck at home for twenty-three-and-a-half hours out of twenty-four, the days with kids and work and odd-jobs and chill time can start to feel as if your worst maths exams and Groundhog Day had a child together and named it Hell. Perhaps you could use a tip. You might well be wondering how one teacher is able to get twenty-eight children to concentrate on their schoolwork while you can’t even manage two. I’ve come up with the following idea and even managed to put into practice, so I know what I’m talking about. It’s important to realise that children are more responsive to strangers. So tell them that you’re not their mother or father between half-past eight and two o’clock, but their teacher. There’s to be no whining for sweets and tablets; just schoolwork. If they can work independently at school, they can do it at home too. Be a bit strict. But, I hear you asking, what if they start to cry because you’ve suddenly gone all school teacher on them, they haven’t seen their friends for weeks, they’re not allowed to lick the slide in the park anymore and even you can’t tell them how long this is all going to last? Close the curtains, grab a duvet from upstairs and zap to that YouTube channel they’re never allowed to watch. Find some crisps and ice-cream and cuddle them until they start to turn blue. This too will pass.

Anne Eekhout lives in Utrecht and published her first book Dogma in 2014. It was nominated for the Bronzen Uil, an award presented to the best Dutch debut novel, and appeared on the longlist for the AKO Literature Prize. Her second novel entitled Op een nacht (2016), earned her a nomination for the BNG Bank literature prize. Her third book was published last year: Nicolas en de verdwijning van de wereld

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