Social distancing, shop closures, and work from home have become the new normal as the COVID-19 pandemic gives those who keep birds in tiny cages a taste of their own medicine.
The Shift is looking out for you in this time of seclusion — especially those readers with busy children who need distraction, entertainment, and education.
I’ve come up with an entire series of fun-filled activities you can do with confined kids.
Note: I’m assuming you’ve already run through obvious options, like ‘Toilet Paper Origami’, ‘Isn’t It Fun to Clean the House’, and ‘Let’s Pretend to Be Monks’ by taking a vow of silence.
You might also use this time to explore home ‘job placements’. Get rich quick through piecework. Start your own sweatshop by making your kids assemble small products at home. After all, idle hands do the devil’s work, and children are very helpful when it comes to crawling inside both machinery and chimneys. The more enterprising among you — especially those who once employed North Korean slave labour or inmates at Corradino — are already doing this.
But there comes a time in any quarantine when even the slowest children see through these attempts to make your life easier. You will need to keep them entertained.
I have an entire list of housebound games that should make social distancing and self-quarantine a breeze.
Several will build useful life skills, should they be interested in a career in Maltese politics.
Let’s begin with a new twist on a few old favourites…
Hide and Seek: Hide a euro for Joseph Muscat and everyone else tries to find it.
Pin the Handcuffs on Keith Schembri: Try and catch Malta’s most elusive alleged mastermind as he flits between the OPM, Neville Gafa’s place, and jurisdictions without extradition treaties where he can stash what used to be your money.
Musical Chairs: Every child loves this one. Cue up the record player with “Ma tagħmlu xejn mal-Perit Mintoff” and start circling those chairs. The winner becomes Police Commissioner — but not for very long.
Hot Potato: Take a mouldy spud from the bottom of the barrel. Shave off the top, polish it up and call it Neville. Now form the children into “departments”. The goal is to get that spud out of your hand faster than you can say “He isn’t working for me!”
Chinese Whispers: Start with the phrase “I set it up for family planning purposes, but I never had a bank account” and see how many links in the chain it takes to get to “wait for the audit”, and finally “It’s an invention and total lie.”
Hoarder: Your pantry stands in for the grocery store. Let the children raid the shelves in a frantic Lidl-busting free-for-all. The winner gets to set up a black market to screw over their neighbours.
King of Castille: Skim European Union funds and give them to your friends. Sell passports out the back door that give access to other people’s countries. ‘Recycle’ as much dirty money as you can get away with by opening a bank, or getting creative with online gambling, construction and restaurants. Pretend to fish while smuggling fuel, people or drugs. Victory only goes to the bold. The winner sucks as much money as possible into his coffers without waking up the EU. But don’t go too far! If you get slapped down, you’re out of the game.
Go Back To Your Country: Divide the children into immigrants and enforcers. Try to deport foreign workers the moment they’re no longer useful to you. Bonus points if you can strike a deal with Libyan warlords to intercept migrants and return them to a failed State before they reach your territory.
The Building Game: Grab the couch cushions, cardboard boxes, blocks and anything else that can be stacked into something resembling a dwelling. Now turn the kids loose to make forts absolutely everywhere. Any open space is fair game. Please note: if you’re playing with foreign friends, they will have to take the role of expendable labourers. Do not give them safety equipment, it only cuts into your profit margins. The winner is the one who takes over the most ODZ land.
Play Doctor: If you’re especially good at pretending, you might be able to take over three public hospitals and then export that grand illusion to welcoming Eastern European countries, turning your game into real money at taxpayer expense.
Play School: Pretend to be a university rector running the shell of a school. This is great for single children without any friends because they don’t actually need real students to grab public land and sell visas.
Pretend to Clean the Sea like Croatian ‘environmental crusader’ Kristijan Curavić — and threaten to sue anyone who shines a light on your scheme. You don’t even need a swimming pool for this one. All you need is a shiny white flag and a gullible politician. No assembly required. Then you get to demand €300,000 into your bank account within 15 days when you’re caught out.
Red Rover: In the Maltese ‘tal-Barrani’ version, the sides are divided into Red and Blue. Individuals from the Blue team attempt to rush across and break the Red team’s chain while thugs on the opposing side beat the absolute crap out of them and the authorities do nothing. Only recommended for homes with first aid kits.
Finally, if you’re craving something cerebral, don’t forget everyone’s favourite game of hide and seek: Cover Your Assets. Now’s your chance to play MP. Conceal as much of your cash, property, and ‘conflict of interest’ business entanglements as you can from parliament by admitting to as little as possible on your annual Declaration of Assets.
How little can you get away with before triggering an audit? It doesn’t matter — they never check. Everyone’s a winner!
Well, not taxpayers – mela, who gives a shit about them?