Thursday, August 20, 2020

No Good Choices

There is a time in the last few months when at least once we have all forgotten to put on our mask to go outside. I am sure it didn't take long to remember to turn around and go get it. For my kids, especially my younger one, forgetting happens a bit more often. We have had our whole life to walk freely around others without a mask, so it makes sense that suddenly since March wearing one daily is hard to get used to. It feels strange seeing friends or family that you haven't seen in a while, and not hug them. It is hard to stand close to a friend you have had forever and have to back up because they are too close, even with a mask. These everyday reminders of the pandemic are hard enough for me, but for children, it's that much harder. That is why, as much as I would like to have them in school, it just isn't safe.

I hear my kid's phrase questions like this a lot, "When the virus is over, can we _____ (have a sleepover, go bowling, get conveyer belt sushi, go on an airplane, and on and on). The reality is, I don't have an answer for any of those. I am not sure how long it will take for the virus to "be over", or what day-to-day life will be like by then. I certainly know my kids need to keep social lives, they need to get outside and that homeschool will include those two things in a way that it didn't in the past. I can only handle my own kid's safety the best I can by making sure I communicate with the parents of friends to make sure we are all on the same page. If I see on social media kids hanging out with other kids next to them and mask free, I will take pause before letting my kids hang out with them. This isn't because I am judgmental; this is because I want us to stay healthy, and the science has convinced me that distance and masks help to that end. 

If and when our children return to school they will be wearing masks all day, they will be in smaller groups, and they will be spread out from each other. Some of them might let their masks fall down over their nose though. Likely some will get excited to share something with a friend and come in too close. Chances are good that my kids will have a challenging time correcting others, as I do. I have stood at the door of a friend's house who said, "I am not masking up for you" and then smiled. I have been told by a few friends, "Oh, come on in, I have been really careful, don't worry about it." Since my twenties, I have not felt this kind of peer pressure. It reminds me of guys pushing for unprotected sex because they are "fine." Or being at a party and being told it would be a lot more fun if I just "did a little bump." There is a very specific feeling of losing your footing when being told, so to speak, that you won't have as much fun if you keep "masking up."  

I'm all in favor of my children independently navigating themselves, but not with this virus. They can decide if they feel like having a sandwich for lunch or not, but they can't choose to not wear a mask because it doesn't feel great. I believe my kids understand that, but I am not willing to risk their safety around others who might not. For that reason, the idea of sending them back to school sucks. For all the fun, social, real live in-person interaction they will be missing, having them at home sucks too. Collectively, we are all going to play the "let's make the best of it game" for the next few (weeks? months? years?). I think that the only people saying 2020 was a good year are people who have recently become parents, survived illness, or have stock in Zoom. Who can predict what the end of this year holds? There's still time for more surprises.

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