One Year On

One year, folks. One year since things went nuts.

On March 6th 2020, Chico flew back to the United States from Spain, and on March 14th Trump banned flights from many European countries (including Spain!).

The fact that Chico has been with us through this pandemic has been one of the small miracles I’ve witnessed over the last year.

There have been a few others.

The Power of a Gifted Teacher

We are lucky to live in a privileged school district, where each child was issued a Chromebook. We are also lucky to have reliable internet connection.

And we are extremely lucky that for kindergarten the Bug was assigned to one of the finest teachers I have ever encountered. A woman of great patience, kindness, but firmness, with a sense of humor to boot.

Mrs. B has reached through the computer screen and ignited the Bug’s love of learning. I consider that a miracle. And the miracle of Mrs. B’s gift has had such a big impact on our family.

He’s logged on to school each day with joy and anticipation, and not once has he complained about it. Miracle.

The Dedication of a Team of Strangers

I signed up to volunteer with the local medical reserve corps last spring. I felt powerless in the face of the pandemic and wanted to help.

From the first time I volunteered, I was struck by how well organized, how proactive and how coordinated everything and everyone was. It seemed to me like all the other volunteers were pros who had been doing this forever.

It turns out, a large number of them were first-time volunteers like me. But like me, they were of a mindset that they were there simply to be useful.

It speaks to how well the organizers from the health department do their jobs, because the MRC here runs like a well-oiled machine.

We currently vaccinate between 1,800 and 2,800 people a day at the county vaccination site. That entire operation is staffed solely by volunteers.

That volunteer army is a miracle.

How Children Adapt to the New Normal

The first time I went to the grocery store wearing a face mask, I nearly had a panic attack.

It was so strange, so frightening and so new to me that I didn’t think I’d ever get used to it.

Ha! Shows what I know! Now I feel weird NOT wearing a mask!

When the kids first had to wear masks, it was a struggle. They complained and fussed, and kept pulling them off their faces. By the second time, they were more resigned. By the third time it was as if they’d been wearing them all their lives.

Now, when we leave the house, they put on their masks like champs. It’s the new normal for them, and they shrug and put them on, just like they put on sunglasses on sunny days and hats on cold ones. No biggie.

Not having to argue about mask wearing every time we go out? Definitely a miracle.

A Shoutout to Librarians

The last little miracle I’ve witnessed is the wonderful dedication of people who love their jobs, and do them well.

Specifically, librarians.

They are a rare and wonderful breed, and they enrich our lives in so many small ways. Every Monday, we go to our local library, and there we encounter the ways librarians show the community their love.

They’re small: A carefully chosen display of books and references on this month’s theme (March is national crafting month!). A printed flyer with a list of read-aloud chapter book recommendations for children ages six to nine. The weekly craft, all neatly packed in a brown paper bag, ready for us to take home (this week we’re growing zinnias!).

The joy the boys feel when they pick up their weekly crafts, and then settle in to browse the bookshelves… That joy is a gift from the librarians.

And it is no small miracle.

Thank You, Miracle Workers

Thank you to the teachers, the volunteers and the librarians. Thank you for the miracles you work every day.

The Risks We Run

It’s called a pandemic for a reason.

Over one million people have died worldwide (that we know of). Over 200,000 have died in the United States alone.

Just because we’re tired of social distancing, doesn’t mean the virus is gone. People are still getting sick with Covid-19. The coronavirus gives precisely zero craps about how fed up we are with things.

And So, We Choose Risks.

First, we carefully consider how much risk we are willing to tolerate. Do we get together with a limited group of family members?

Then, we consider the kids. Do we keep them at home? Or do we take the risk and send them to daycare and school?

We kept social distancing, but we returned the kids to daycare. They thrived. We kept up our hand washing routines, health checks. Everyone was fine.

When it came time to make the choice about distance learning vs. hybrid, we opted for distance learning, before the school board reversed its decision to offer a choice and went for only distance learning.

And Then… We Got Used to It.

Pandemic procedures became part of daily life.

The weather was good, the boys were happy. We were spending time outside, so we saw people outside, and it was easy to forget about the pandemic.

We kept wearing our masks, and the children’s teachers were always masked. It all came to seem so normal.

Yesterday, A Child Got Sick.

Yesterday evening, we got a call that a child in the Bear’s daycare class had tested positive for Covid-19.

I cannot imagine how terrifying the situation must be for the family. I’ve since learned that the child is only experiencing mild symptoms, and I pray that continues to be the case.

For me, it’s been a real wake-up call. A reminder that this is still real, and it can happen to us.

Quarantined

So we’re in quarantine. The Chico and I are experiencing mild cold symptoms, so we got ourselves tested for Covid-19 and should have results tomorrow.

Whether we have “the dreaded lurgy” or not, we’ve been given a stark reminder to take this seriously.

If we do have the lurgy, then we’ll see you after quarantine.

If we don’t have it, well, we’ve still got to quarantine at home.

Either Way, We (Won’t) Be Seeing Ya!

Because we’ve got to social distance.

Why I’m Going to Wear My Mask Outside, Too

Yesterday I wrote about how important it is for us all to get our flu shots.

I also slipped in a little additional bonus messaging about wearing a mask.

And that got me thinking.

I’m Being Hypocritical.

I wear a mask when I go into a public building. If someone has to come into my house for some reason, I ask them to wear a mask and I wear one, too.

We have expanded our bubble to include family members who live nearby, and with them we don’t wear masks, but we still maintain distance.

However, the place I have not been wearing a mask is outside on the playground.

“Nobody Else Is!”

This is what I tell myself when I feel a bit guilty and start looking around at the playground.

No other parents are wearing masks.

Everyone is standing apart, no one is getting too close, but no one is wearing a mask.

We figure we’re all outside, and we’re far enough apart.

Not So!

The CDC makes it very clear that wearing a mask in ANY public setting is important to help stem the spread of the coronavirus. They do not distinguish between indoors or outdoors.

This article from a hospital network in New Jersey addresses the question of wearing masks outside.

Here’s when you should wear a mask outside:

  • When it is difficult to maintain the recommended 6-foot social distancing from others (such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy or walking on a busy street or in a crowded neighborhood).
  • If required to by law. Many areas now have mandatory masking regulations when in public.

Here’s when you don’t need to wear a mask outside:

  • You’re in your backyard or on personal property and it is very unlikely that you’ll end up within 6 feet of someone else.
  • You are in any other secluded location where the likelihood of running into someone else is very low.
  • You are in either of the previously mentioned environments with someone you’ve been quarantined with.
  • You are under two years old or have a condition where wearing a mask would inhibit your health.
  • You are engaging in “high intensity aerobic or anaerobic activities” or when in the water.
  • You are eating or drinking outdoors.

Source: Dr. Frank Elliot, “Should You Wear a Mask Outside”, https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org, updated 07/09/2020, accessed 09/19/2020, https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/HealthU/2020/04/20/should-you-wear-a-mask-outside/.

The Playground is Unpredictable

Unless you’re refusing to set foot on the playground and you’re sitting off to the side, far away from others, it is VERY difficult to keep six feet away from everyone else.

Kids are running all over the place, and their parents are chasing after them.

There’s no telling when suddenly, albeit briefly, you may be within inches of another person’s face.

I’m not going to risk it. I’m going to wear a mask. And by so doing, I’ll be protecting myself, those other kids and their parents, too.

The Question Is Now…

Do I make my children wear them?

Or simply keep them off the playgrounds?

Get Your Flu Shots

Today’s message is short and sweet:

GET YOUR FLU SHOTS!!!

Why? Because you don’t want to get the flu. You don’t want the people around you to get the flu.

The flu SUCKS. It kills people every year. Our Bear had it when he was nine months old, and it was SCARY. He had to have an inhaler for a year after because it had inflamed his bronchial tubes.

You don’t want your kid on an inhaler.

GET YOUR FLU SHOTS.

Because of the Pandemic: Get Your Flu Shots

This year especially, you’ll want to get a flu shot.

Assuming they get the mix right and it’s an effective vaccine this year, you want to make sure you’re protected from influenza.

The coronavirus is still out there. People are still dying of it.

It’s bad enough that we have a pandemic, we don’t want to also be dealing with a flu epidemic. If you get symptoms of fever, headache, etc., you don’t want to ask yourself whether you’re dealing with flu or coronavirus.

Eliminate the possibility that it’s the flu.

Get your flu shots.

Show How Much You Care

Do you care about your neighbors? Your family? The people in your local grocery store?

Do you care about your elderly relatives? Your small children? Your nieces and nephews?

Then WEAR A MASK.

Oh psych! You thought I was going to say get a flu shot! What the hell!

DO BOTH!

WEAR A MASK. GET YOUR FLU SHOT.

You don’t live in a bubble. Your choices (or refusal to make a choice, which in itself is a choice) have an effect on the people around you.

Don’t be that person. Don’t give grandma the flu OR the coronavirus.

Do what’s right.

Wear a mask. Get a flu shot.

Well that went quickly

And here I thought that being in lockdown would give me plenty of time to write!

Turns out, there’s lots to do when the entire family is at home.

Who’d have thought it, right??

The end is still far…

Our state continues to operate on lockdown, with no word about reopening before the originally projected date of June 10th. At this point, it almost seems like June 10th might be too soon.

We’re currently in week 8 of staying at home, and while some of the days drag by, on the whole the time has gone quickly. As I’m sure is true for everyone, some days are better than others.

Some days we have lots of fun. Other days we struggle to pull ourselves together. Some days we cook. Some days we warm up something frozen or order take-out. Some days leave the house. Some days we don’t.

I’ve written before about tedium and child-rearing. It’s a thing. With the added factor of having to stay at home, some days it has gotten to nearly unbearable levels.

The pressure to keep brain cells active

Aside from reading and activities with the kids, I haven’t done much in the way of keeping my brain cells active.

At one point, I had plans. I thought this would be the opportune time to practice and perfect something. Anything, really.

My Instagram feed has been full of ads for Master Class, spinning tutorials, different crafting hobbies (which conveniently would require me to buy equipment and online tutorials from these advertisers). I could learn Arabic in less than a month (!), or perfect my piano skills using an app!

It’s true that these companies have something right. It is important to keep the mind in shape, not just the body (not that I’ve been keeping the body in shape much, but let’s not go there).

But at the same time, it’s hardly productive for me to put yet another kind of pressure on myself.

And yet…

And yet, I do feel the need to do something. For my mental well-being and to remind myself that I am better at more than laundry, cleaning and cooking.

For those who have jobs that challenge them mentally, this might not feel as critical. But for those of us who stay at home anyway and were already suffering from lack of stimulation, I think it is especially important to activate the brain cells now.

Where to start?

A simple Google search should do it. I can easily get overwhelmed by all the information I find on Google, but a little time to focus and some perseverance should give me some ideas.

I’m thinking of creative writing classes. Has anyone done any? Got any recommendations?

Lockdown Mode

It’s official! Our governor has joined many in imposing a stay-at-home order.

Other than grocery shopping, medical care, going to essential jobs or getting exercise, we have to stay inside!

UNTIL JUNE THE TENTH.

June 10th. JUNE TENTH.

That is… Let me see… MORE THAN TEN WEEKS FROM NOW.

That is just mind-boggling. We’ve already been home for two weeks, and just the thought of not being able to leave the house for any extended purpose for that long is enough to set me nervously twitching.

What can I say that you don’t already know?

This is HARD. This is BORING. It’s CONFINING. It’s ANXIETY-PROVOKING.

It’s so many things in ALL CAPS.

Learning to live with it

This situation has brought forward so many insecurities I had about myself as a mother, a spouse, a housekeeper, a knitter… Even as a reader.

(Yes, you can be insecure about your reading skills, choices, tastes…)

I’ve had a lot of time to look long and hard at my insecurities. And as I look at them, they gradually lose some of their frightening power. It’s like I’m getting to know them all, one by one.

I’m becoming more aware of insecurities I didn’t know I had, and little by little coming to understand them.

That’s not to say I’ll come out of social distancing cured of all my ills and ready to take on the world like She-Ra.

Though I can still dream…

But perhaps this time in social isolation will help me to better accept my insecurities and understand how they play on me.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll figure out how to face one or two of them.