Parenting in the Time of Pandemics

“Mom, how much longer do I have to sing Happy Birthday when I wash my hands?”

“Until you die, kid.”

“As an old lady,” I add quickly.

In case this wasn’t obvious, my five year old’s grasp of germ theory is, shall we say, limited.

Our schools have closed for the next two weeks, but we are overachievers and the kiddo has already been home for a week and a half due to the flu raging through her pre-k class. I believe she also had it, though I feared to take her to a doctor’s office to have it confirmed in case she might pick up something nastier while we were there. She recovered nicely, her fever never peaking above 101.5F, and we thought we would be getting back to normal.

Obviously, that was an optimism that seemed normal half a week ago but now seems absurd.

By this point, she has begun to grasp that something weird is going on. We’ve told her that there’s a nasty sickness going around and that we’re trying to protect each other by staying away from people outside of our family. She doesn’t seem afraid yet, but as she’s not going to be able to leave the house much for the next two weeks, she’s certain to figure it out soon. She’s never been a kid that you can hide much from. About midway through our flu isolation week, she broke down crying because she missed sunshine and her friends. That just about killed me.

My company put us on mandatory remote work at the beginning of last week. I had already been remote for a few days prior in order to nurse my kid and two weeks before *that* I had self-isolated for the flu. When the announcement came that it will be until April 10th at a minimum, I felt sick. I’m not a particularly social creature, but weeks on end of isolation are hard.

It’s necessary, but that doesn’t mean it’s not painful. If it saves one life, then it’s worth it – at least for me, who faces very little economic threat from the current circumstances. My heart goes out to all of the people that will lose their living over the next few weeks.

It’s not all bad. With all of this time at home, we’ve found time to reach out to family and friends that we’re usually too busy zooming around from swim lesson to dance class to homework time to bedtime to be able to talk to, even when we want to. I’m spending lots of time with my daughter, though having to do my job at the same time is a challenge. I have time to exercise — in truth, if you don’t have time now, when will you? — and I’ve been able to do it while sleeping in. Our bodies are rested in a way that I’ve dreamed about for years. We lit the fire in the fire pit and sat around it as a family, just killing time.

It’s a luxury, so long as we don’t turn on the news. It’s a luxury, if we ignore that people are dying and that more will die just because isolation is hard. But I will find the light in the dark where I can.

One Comment

  • ccyager

    Stay well! Classical music is a great way to open up a child’s imagination and ballet music is great for dancing. Lots of good stuff on YouTube!

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