The Coronavirus, CDC Guidelines and Our Kids
Updated: Jun 3
The late afternoon sun shines perfectly on his corkscrew curls, big brown eyes and impossibly long eyelashes. I know he’s beautiful—though those are the only features I can see. The rest is shrouded in a festive green mask—it’s his favorite color. I know he’s smiling because his eyes squint as he watches the neighbor’s birthday parade intently. He wants to join the party. He wants to talk to everyone about all the things that tumble from his imagination and onto his lips. He’s eager to share his stories with someone new. Anyone new.
Instead of hugs, we wave. Instead of conversation, we share muffled “Happy Birthday’s” from a safe distance. Instead of socializing, we sing happy birthday and quickly return to homes and cars.
Instead of telling our kids to look both ways before crossing the street, we say don’t cross the street. You can’t visit. The stores aren’t safe. Crowds aren’t safe. Playgrounds aren’t safe. You can’t play soccer. You can’t go to school. I’m sorry, no. Stay close. Remember the rules. Stay home. Stay safe. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, my love. No.
Though my brain stays the course and pushes along this unmarked road, my heart breaks with each limitation.
I made the outer shell and inner fabric of the mask different shades of green. The ties are made of repurposed shoelaces and it all fits neatly in the palm of my hand. It’s adorable and quite possibly one of the best things I’ve ever sewn in terms of construction and functionality.
I took careful measurements, made even more careful cuts, sewed my straightest stitches, top stitched for added durability and used matching thread. It is some of my finest work. I even used a pattern (thanks, Craft Passion) and added a filter. It fits like a glove.
Though I am proud of my work, it’s existence has revealed a sadness I can’t store neatly in a box to deal with later.
These conflicting emotions of pride, relief and great sadness overwhelmed me as I guided the final stitching on this teeny tiny face mask meant for my vivacious three-year-old son.
The summer after he was born—and I became a mom of three—shopping was an overwhelming experience. Instead of trips to the mall or Target, we would walk to our neighborhood Rite-Aid. It was a nice alternative to walking around the block and put a little pep in our step. I looked forward to the rush of cool air as we walked through the door on a hot day and my kids looked forward to choosing their favorite treat. Once inside they’d make a beeline for the snack aisle. My kids love snacks. Our walks became a ritual they looked forward to; so much so that any trip to Rite Aid would elicit a Pavlovian desire for sweets.
As I sat at my sewing table, holding this tiny, beautiful, green mask I was overcome with the starkness of our new reality under the stay-at-home ordinance. We don’t know when we can resume care-free family walks to the Rite Aid sweets aisle. To be clear, I realize this is a wisp if an inconvenience when compared to the daily struggles of first responders, essential workers and the millions of hard working people who have been left unemployed.
There are so many larger issues at hand, but I find myself longing for a return to normalcy to protect the social, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of my kids.
The world was not perfect, but I sure do miss the little things, like taking a walk to get treats, I took for granted.
As we look forward to the end of the school year in our home, I worry about their return to school in the Fall. New guidelines for returning to in-person schooling were recently released by the CDC and they paint a grim picture.
This image above is a simplified list from KidsActivities.com. The 60-page document covers many different areas, guidance for schools and day camps begins on page 45.
I understand the these safety measures are meant to keep our favorite little humans safe while they learn. My concern is how these changes (however tentative at this point), that strip away the fun and social aspects of school, will affect their mental wellness. I’ll be the first to admit I’m an under qualified school teacher, but this document begs the question—should I protect my kids from this experience and embrace homeschooling?