In July, my 13-year-old daughter Lily flew to Camp George, a URJ summer camp on a lake near Toronto. Swine flu was at its peak. Naturally I was a little concerned: “Did I just hear you cough?.. You sweating Lily?”
“Dad, Stop being paranoid!”
It was her first unaccompanied flight. We’d packed all the essentials: flashlight, 20 bikinis, iPod, a course of Tamiflu.
In T5 departure lounge, I drained my 12th espresso. One more and I’d also be flying to Toronto.
The next morning I read a headline: “American camps hit by swine flu. Campers in quarantine.”
Another piece read: “Bear attacks in Canada on increase.”
I immediately leapt into action: I panicked. I fired off a “worried dad, swine flu” email to Camp George. I added a PS: “What’s advice to campers if bear enters cabin in night?”
They replied instantly: “99 per cent of camp healthy/ happy. We have not had any bear sightings recently and strictly forbid them from entering the cabins!”
The following day I got a Camp George swine flu alert. “We feel it is important to take a proactive approach in dealing with the realities… rest assured our staff are trained in the universal precautions of CSE (Cough/Sneeze Etiquette) as part of their training.”
Eight hours later got second email: “Two girls in Lily’s cabin, Barak, have flu, been sent home; other nine in quarantine. Want permission to give Lily Tamiflu.”
Wasn’t Barak Hebrew for Lightning? Doesn’t lightning always strike twice, or never strike twice?
I replied: “Give her the Tamiflu immediately! She has her own supply. Give double dose!”
A second later, my ex-wife emailed me: “If no symptoms: DO NOT give Tamiflu.”
Was she crazy?
“Latest advice is not to give as preventative,” she added.
I emailed Camp G.
“Urgent. NO Tamiflu!”
I could see it all: Lily is just about to swallow Tamiflu… doctor bursts in, snatches it from hand!
Instant reply: “Message received, understood. Relax man.”
That was last I heard from George.
Two weeks later I met Lily off the plane at Heathrow.
“How was camp, darling?”
“Swine flu? Quarantine?”
“Fine… I was 50ft up a tree on the high wire when I heard I had to be quarantined.”
“Up a tree. You could have fallen!”
“Chill, dad. One of the older boys would have caught me!”
BOYS !… What boys!?
I’d been worrying so much about the swine flu and the bears, I’d totally forgotten about the boys…
September 3 2009.