A neighbour called the police on my kids yesterday

It’s lunchtime as I type this. It was supposed to be rainy/snowy today, but the sun is shining. The kids did their schoolwork this morning, and they’re going to go outside to play as soon as they’re done eating.

It terrifies me.

Yesterday, a neighbour in our sweet small town called the police on my kids.

It was just another day in this shitty new pandemic life we’re all living. The kids did their schoolwork in the morning. They ate lunch, and then they went outside to play, as they do just about every afternoon now.

We live on a street with (mostly) very small, shared yards. Our backyard playground is mere feet away from our neighbour’s backyard playground because, as I said, these yards are SMALL AND SHARED.

When our kids are playing outside, the kids next-door are often playing outside, too. It’s the only kids they see, so sure, they talk and joke and attempt to “play” together — all from a distance.

Sometimes they play Charades — no need to be close for that — and last week or the week before (it’s all a blur), I showed them how to run an obstacle course and time each other. No problems there. One person at a time on the obstacle course, and everyone else cheered from a distance.

They’re kids, all between the ages of seven and nine. They’re not perfect, and sometimes they veer closer than six feet. One of them will remember and yell “Social distance!” and they back up, or we remind them from the windows.

The phone rang yesterday afternoon. It was our local police department, calling to tell me that a neighbour “who wished to remain anonymous” had reported that we had a “crowd of kids” running around together, even running in and out of each other’s houses.

I almost dropped the phone, I was so shocked.

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A day in the life of pandemic parenting

The other morning, I spent an hour on a video conference with people I’d never seen “in person” before. It was very successful, and I felt like an awesome businesswoman.

Then I hurried upstairs to check on the kids and discovered our son hadn’t heard his reminder alarm and, as a result, had missed most of his class Google Meet. I flipped my lid and felt like a terrible mother.

Yes, it’s an optional call, but I still felt awful. He’s missing out on so much right now, and knowing he’d missed out on one of the only things available to him filled me with anger, frustration and sadness.

I frantically pulled out my phone and started setting even more reminders, determined it won’t happen again even if I am on a work call. Now every day at 9:20 a.m., our house positively booms with voices coming out of every Alexa device.

It’s an overreaction, for sure, but these days I’m not sure I’m capable of reacting normally to anything.

Continue reading in my parenting column, The Mom Scene, and please continue to SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPERS during this difficult time! Unlimited digital access to the SaltWire Network is just $1 right now.

Parenting during a pandemic

I’m crouched in a makeshift shelter assembled from scraps, cheerfully reading a story to my kids so they don’t realize there’s a war zone outside.

I’m clawing my way out of a volcano with both kids strapped to my back, calmly pointing out the pretty orange colour of the coals.

I’m hustling them towards lifeboats but making it into a silly, lighthearted race to see who’s the fastest runner.

I have always been a parent who’s really honest with their kids. I taught them about puberty and sex and LGBTQ+ issues early — too early, maybe. I’ve never been great about upholding Santa Claus/Easter Bunny/tooth fairy lore. There’s nothing I haven’t been able to discuss with them, but suddenly I’m lying through my teeth every single day.

At almost-eight and almost-10, my kids are old enough that they’ll remember living through the COVID-19 pandemic. Is it going to scar them for life?

I have one child prone to bouts of terrible anxiety and another who lives for socialization and is crushed, daily, that she can’t be with her friends and teachers.

I need to be strong for them.

And so, every day is an acting exercise …

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column over on SaltWire.com …