Charge me triple for school supply fees. Ask me to buy hazmat suits for the class. Enlist me to be a volunteer bus monitor to make sure kids keep their masks on. Anything. Seriously, I will accommodate literally any request, as long as my kids can return to school and have a mostly normal life again.
Two weeks from now, we’ll be lined up outside the school. When it’s our kids’ turns to go inside, I know they’ll skip gaily through the propped-up door, swinging a gift bag for their teacher and thrilled to be inside their school again. I’ll move to the designated exit door to wait for them, and I’ll try to stop crying before they come out. I’ll try to stop myself from agonizing over the next time we’ll be back and what school will look like at that point.
After lunch, the kids go outside to play. It no longer matters if it’s cold or drizzly — they are eager to go out in weather they would have balked at a month ago. I stand in the window watching them make mud pies and peel the bark off sticks. Between the dead grass and the dreary sky, the world is colourless and dull. Caution tape flutters over the entrance of the park nearby. It looks like a pandemic out there, I think.
Parenting during a pandemic is scary. It’s hard and it’s sometimes heartbreaking — but we’re putting on a brave face for our children because that’s what they need from us right now.
I’m sorry I was a snooty little B-word when other people’s kids had lice, or when the notes came home in the backpacks. I was horrified and grossed out, and now people are horrified and grossed out by my family. It’s so embarrassing.