“I wonder what a world without coronavirus would be like. I mean, I know it hasn’t been that long but it’s hard to remember. I bet we went so many places.”
I looked back at my 7 year old, who was previously deep in thought, voice now muffled under her mask. I was going on a rare trip to Target to return something I’d ordered online and had been looking forward to the first alone time in weeks. After several minutes of non-stop begging to come with me, I gently told her no and rushed out the door to my car. I started to pull out of the driveway until saw her face, once hopeful but now forlorn, swinging on the porch swing silently, as if in a trance. I motioned for her to get in the car and she sprung to her feet, suddenly alive again.
Never did I think my kids would beg to accompany me on mundane errands but here we are. My daughter gets excited just to go to the car wash. And when I try to sneak off to the grocery store, my 3-year-old runs up to me, pleading his case as to why he should come, and promising that he won’t get “cowonabirus.” The other 2 kids have just given up on asking.
These coronavirus times are so different than summer days in the past. By 8 am it’s too hot to go for walks, ride bikes, or do anything outside. After so many months of quarantine, they’ve played all the board games, built all the LEGO’s, drawn all the pictures, had all the nerf wars, and they are over it. Sometimes they seem to spend large portions of their day just wishing time away. Instead of enjoying these impossibly hot days at the sprinkler park or cooling off in the fountain at the zoo, I fill up their little pool and set it in the driveway. Instead of going to the Children’s Museum on rainy days, we are stuck inside the house. Instead of play dates with friends, they are forced to play with the same 3 kids. ALL. DAY. LONG. It’s like a messed up version of Groundhog Day, where every day just bleeds into the next.
I love my children, but I have been with them almost every second of the day for the last 5 months. They have discovered all of my hiding places in the house. But I’ve come to realize that I can’t hide from my kids any more than I can hide from our current reality: this new, coronavirus world seems to have brought out the ugly side in people, as we are inundated with opinions presented as facts and a strict intolerance for anyone who disagrees. And as we are headed into the fall, I find myself constantly weighing the pros and cons of school choices. While I whole-heartedly acknowledge what a privilege it is to have options, none seem appealing. Do I take on the challenge of homeschooling, while sacrificing the normalcy of a schedule and the social interaction that my kids are desperately craving? Or do I send them back to a school they may not recognize, with new regulations they don’t fully understand, where they cannot hug their friends, or play on playground equipment, or go on field trips? Where they eat lunch in their classrooms and after school clubs are obsolete?
Sometimes I am so consumed with the state of the world that I forget what effect this has on our children. Coronavirus has been just a snapshot of the almost 40 years I’ve spent on this planet, but my 7 year old is already starting to forget what life was like before.
I’ve realized that coronavirus has changed my children but overall I actually believe it’s for the better. They have been forced to grow up a little, to mature, to be adaptable and resilient. While I do miss our fun summer adventures of the past, sometimes it’s nice not to referee arguments over where to go or or listen to complaining because half my kids don’t like the zoo. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to honestly tell them that Pump It Up and Chuck E Cheese are closed. Sometimes it’s nice to have a daughter who just wants to go to Target with her mom.