I see pictures of large groups of people and shudder. My children have not been in a building other than our house or my mother’s house since March. I had that husband who, as soon as COVID-19 hit the news, did the math dealing with the exponential increase in cases, told me to stock up on everything, and that we weren’t going back to school for the rest of the year. We decided in mid-March to buy a trampoline and an above-ground pool, because we wouldn’t be going anywhere this summer. Because COVID-19 killed so many people, we still haven’t gone anywhere. We’re content with that decision. In fact, we can’t imagine making another one.
My state, along with much of the South, is still seeing a rise in cases. We don’t anticipate that curve leveling out any time soon. Between that and the new pediatric inflammatory syndrome we’re seeing in children infected with COVID-19, my kids aren’t going much of anywhere until there’s a vaccine for the disease. Period. End of discussion.
Oh, I might take them to low-risk places where I’ll be careful to enforce social distancing — no playgrounds, too many other kids too close together — but we could go to Target, or to the grocery store, or to a playdate with one or two other children. My kids will wear masks the whole time. I’ve already told them that they will be wearing masks until there’s a vaccine available, and that they had been be okay with that. But what saddens me the most is how much they’ll miss in the coming months because of COVID-19.
Because of COVID-19, My Kids Will Miss Halloween
They haven’t thought that far ahead. They don’t work on that kind of timescale. They’re kids; they’re already miserable with quarantine. They aren’t thinking that, come Halloween, because of COVID-19, there will be no “Boo at the Zoo.” There will be no fun parties with other homeschooled friends. There will be no trick-or-treating in their grandmother’s neighborhood; no trick-or-treating in the best neighborhood for trick-or-treating ever, the one that decorates every single house and pulls out all the stops, the one all the kids in the city visit; there will be no candy from stranger’s hands.
The worst part? Because of COVID-19, my kids will sit home with the lights off while other kids ring our doorbell. We will ignore them and watch a silly movie. They will cry anyway. Halloween is my youngest son’s birthday. He will not have a party. He will turn seven years old. My oldest will tell us all how, when he was born, his grandmother took him to Five Guys and they saw a person dressed in a gorilla costume. We will not laugh. Because of COVID-19, we will be sad instead: we will all think, when was the last time we ate at a Five Guys?
My Kids Will Probably Miss Christmas, Too
There are questions, says NPR, about whether or not COVID-19 cases will spike in the winter months, like most cold and flu viruses. But even if it’s still circulating, because of COVID-19 simply existing in the population, my kids will not have a traditional Christmas. Sure, they’ll get presents. There’ll be stockings.
But there will not be parties with their friends. There will not be secret Santas. There will be no pictures with Santa Claus. Because of COVID-19, the malls and stores will become too crowded to visit — we wouldn’t be able to practice proper social distancing. We won’t be caroling, thanks, and there won’t be any church services for my oldest son, who likes to go with my mother. We likely won’t be driving up to see my relatives in other states the way we normally do. They won’t see their cousins. Christmas will be lonely. So will my son’s birthday, which comes right before it.
Kind of like quarantine.
You Might Think I’m Bonkers
You might think I’m nuts. Your kids might be going back to school, so you might have no choice but to let them out into the world. I understand that, I do. And I can’t imagine how frightened you are. You might have to go back to work at a place — or even be working somewhere right now — where masks and social distancing aren’t very effective or feasible. You might fear bringing the virus back to your kids now, let alone in a few months. Depriving my children because of COVID-19 might make me look like an overprotective nutjob.
So why go to such lengths and deprive them of so much?
Because I don’t want them to get sick. Because COVID-19 scares the hell out of me.
I’m privileged enough to assure my kids are sheltered from the virus, and I choose to do so. My kids are homeschooled. I write for a living — I don’t leave the house most days. My husband teaches public school, but because of COVID-19, he’s already planned strict social distancing, masking, and gloving procedures, and even built a sterilization box for papers he absolutely must handle in physical form. His windows will be open for a cross-breeze at all times, and he plans to tell his students simply to dress accordingly to account for airflow. He knows how the virus functions, and he’s going to do everything he can to assure that it can’t live in his classroom —and that if it does, he doesn’t bring it home.
Yes, I’m privileged. Yes, I know it. Not everyone who wants it has the option of isolating as much as we do.
But until my kids and I can get jabbed with an effective vaccine, we’re staying home. We’re avoiding gatherings. We’re keeping clear of everyone and everything. Because of COVID-19, I am ruining Halloween and Christmas. It makes me sad to think of. I stare down the barrel of the rest of this year with trepidation and a kind of despair.
I can only remind myself that it will end. Someday.
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