Z-Day evacuation plans: We all have them.
We know exactly where to go, how to get there, what we would do, in almost any situation. Parents like me may have discussed this — or even physically mapped this out — with their children. These plans, slightly modified, are also great ideas for natural emergency or other crisis situations. (But of course, it’s much more likely the zombie invasion will occur first.)
Every family should have plans for a disaster or emergency, including a cache of supplies and designated meeting places. A good start on the basics of preparedness can be found at FEMA’s website. Gathering your “to-go” kit (a.k.a. the “bug-out” bag) can be a fun, bonding experience, so make sure your child has input and contributes to the process. As you add things, explain its use and purpose to the child. Allow them to contribute a comfort item, such as blanket or plush Wookie.
Preparedness is universal, and these plans will help your family navigate almost any hardship. However, educating your kids about these unfortunate events is less than easy. We protect them from such thoughts, as much as we can. We want them to think the world is a fascinating, adventurous place, not the dangerous jungle it can be. This is where our nerdy obsession with zombies comes in handy.
Many age-appropriate titles can be found in zombie literature, like That’s Not Your Mommy Anymore: A Zombie Tale by Matt Mogk or How to Speak Zombie: A Guide for the Living by Steve Mockus. Kids naturally love gory, gross, supernatural stories. These books are great choices for the under-10 set.
Once you’ve established a decent amount of fun fear for the undead in your offspring, you can start making your family’s survival plans. When you’ve created your strategy, talk about how these plans apply to natural disaster, utility failure, societal crisis or the tragic and horrible reality of a public shooting or bombing. It’s easier for children to prepare for a far-fetched nemesis than a potentially real nightmare — like a fire tornado — but the message is the same.
While you’ve got your genetic counterpart in a zombie-fighting mood, make a zombie dummy. Use scrap wood, foam, paper mache, old clothes, and turn it into a fun craft project. But, don’t fall in love with him. You’re going to mutilate the poor, undead sap. When he’s complete, call over a friend trained in martial arts or self-defense and have a lesson in Hand-to-Stump combat. Ask the expert to teach your child (and you!) how to escape holds, defend against advancements, and how and where to attack. Mention casually how these techniques can be used against anyone trying to harm them without imbuing them with kidnapper anxiety.
And stress that these are self-defense tactics and should never be used as offensive maneuvers — especially against playmates.
You can substitute other monsters in this formula, like vampires or goblins, whatever fits your particular brand of nerdy. The important part is stressing how the supernatural mimics reality just enough to make these essential lessons non-threatening and even fun, potentially easing the anxiety just a bit if (in all unlikelihood) a disaster should occur.