Monday, 31 January 2011

Speaking of earthquakes...

Chile is renowned for earthquakes (terremoto).  In February last year they suffered from an 8.8 magnitude quake and earlier this year there was a terremoto measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale.  Earthquakes are a fact of life in Chile.  We have to expect at least one tremor within the next twelve months.
How do you broach the subject of earthquakes with two children who have never experienced any form of natural disasters?  My preferred method for new topics is to sit down with colouring pencils and paper.
One of Indiana and Truce's favourite books is The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.  Slightly dated but still a delightful tale of three children who climb a magical tree and visit the wondrous worlds at the top of the tree.
"What are you drawing daddy?" asks Indiana.
"Y'know that chapter in The Faraway Tree when they go to the Roundabout land and all the ground shakes and rolls?"
She nods - we've read the book to her four times.
I continue, "That's what I'm drawing."  This is where I start my planned, spontaneous talk about how we might feel the ground move when we are in Chile.
"Have you ever heard of earthquakes?" I ask.
Truce is happily drawing her version of Roundabout land.  Seven year old Indiana answers.  "It's when the plates under the ground move quickly and they shake the ground." 
Silence from me.
I didn't expect her answer to be so accurate.  I must send a thankyou note to her grade one teacher.
I continue my casual speech, "What do you think you do in an earthquake?"
"Nanna said when she lived in New Zealand as a girl her mum would put her in the bath tub and cover her with a mattress."
By this point my talk on Tectonic Plates and their relationship to the earth's crust as well as emergency procedures for earthquakes seemed unnecessary.  But like most parents I had to finish the conversation.  "You could also hide under a table, tables are good.  It's what the kids in Japan do."
I colour in the flowers on my paper knowing that our kids will be fine.

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