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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Grandma’s cuddles back on the cards this Christmas

A children’s book written by a NSW clinical psychologist separated from her grandchildren by coronavirus has been recommended as an educational resource by the ACT Education Directorate.

For Janice McKay, embracing her grandchildren again is like a dream come true.

Kept apart for more than six months during lockdown, the Lake Macquarie grandma spent her days finding creative ways to maintain a bond they’d shared for almost a decade.

The trio had been playing snakes and ladders and reading stories to one another online since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March.

The virus that was keeping communities across the globe apart, was also keeping Janice from her grandchildren, nine-year-old Liora and her seven-year-old brother Samson.

This was the pair she had minded twice a week since they were babies.

Embracing them both again this month, after what felt like years apart, has been a Christmas wish come true, Janice said.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “I had missed being with them so much.”

Troubled with the task of explaining the coronavirus to Liora and Samson earlier this year, Janice put pen to paper, releasing the book, Villony Virus Comes to Town, in July.

Based on a creepy main character named Villony Virus, who is attempting to take over the town with its soldiers who can jump 1.5 metres and prefer older adults, the story has a positive with some clever scientists continuing to work hard to find a vaccine that will hopefully bring about a happy ending.

“I struggled to explain to my grandchildren the reasons why they could no longer come to my home,” Janice said. 

“I felt heartbroken and I thought the best way to explain the situation was to write a book for them.”

The book is filled with subtle messages aimed at opening the channels of communication surrounding COVID-19.

Designed to be read to children, it was recommended as an educational resource by the ACT Education Directorate in November.

Sales of the book have pleasantly surprised Janice.

“The feedback has been amazing and I am more than pleased with that,” she said.

As far as her grandchildren are concerned, the coronavirus continues to hover at the edges of “normal life”.

“Like many children I have been speaking to lately, although life is fine for them, they are very aware that life is still different,” Janice said.

Troubled with the task of explaining the coronavirus to her grandchildren earlier this year, NSW clinical psychologist Janice McKay put pen to paper, releasing the book, ‘Villony Virus Comes to Town‘. The ACT Education Directorate has recommended the book, which is intended to be read to children, as an educational resource. Image supplied.

“The nine-year-old said she still feels a bit scared for the future.

“It was a massive improvement to return to school and to be able to see grandparents; however, they still can’t have parents or grandparents at the school.

“There is no normal end-of-year presentation day. They can’t mix with the whole school at lunchtime and social distancing rules affect cafes and restaurants.

“Some birthday parties, and the ballet concert, has been recorded and will be screened in a socially-distanced theatre.

“I think the seven-year-old is less bothered by the changes and can probably hardly remember what life was like before; he was affected when he was not able to come to our place, however.”

By Rebecca Riddle, Newcastle Weekly

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