It is hard to believe it has been a full year since our 2 week quarantine to flatten the curve started. We count that day as March 14, 2020, the day after the last day of school. They sent home some packets for the kids and we made the best of it. We tried to enjoy our early and extended spring break, but not being able to go anywhere, and the Contagion-like movie scenarios running through our heads as we navigated the aisles of the grocery store started to wear on us. The streets of our town were ghostly. No one in sight, no cars traveling on the busy highway behind us. It was a very quiet and eerie couple of weeks.
Of course we all know what happened. We didn’t go back to school. Many didn’t go back to work. By mid April everyone was navigating the world of online learning and newly imagined job scenarios, and the quiet magic of the 2 week quarantine evaporated into the morning dew of a very long and unfortunately cold spring. We watched lots of Netflix and shared many memes about the great toilet paper hoarding/shortage of 2020.
At least we had cake.
When we realized we weren’t going back to school or work, or ANYWHERE anytime soon. We have 3 kids, who were 7, 5, and 3 when this whole thing started. With even the playgrounds roped off, it was time to get creative. Luckily I had purchased a state park pass in February, something I’d never done before. Turned out that was a very good thing for us. At least we had somewhere to go, once it finally did warm up.
Life as we know it was a very hard thing to explain to them. Why they couldn’t go to school, see friends or go anywhere indoors without scaring them to death took some doing. I’d often just gloss over it, to save their poor little psyches from being scarred. “It’s not forever. It’s an illness they are trying to get a hold of so it’s safe for everyone to see everyone again. Let’s go for a walk!” This was met with heavy sighs. “Because Coronavirus.” became an answer to why they can’t do anything. “We hate Coronavirus.” “Me too… me too.” We tried to keep it as “normal” as possible.
Things were far from “normal” however. The numbers still rising, panic in the toilet paper aisle, fears of where the next paycheck was coming from, and finding out people we actually knew were getting sick. Having friends or family pass away (whether Covid related or not) with no way to say goodbye, and no way to send them off with a proper funeral- this was weighing heavy on the adults.
But for the kids, at least we had cake. And toys to pose with it.
By now were well into the world of masks. It took some getting used to for everyone. We all practiced making homemade masks. There were many social media tutorials to follow, both helpful and some more, uh, “creative”. Our craftier friends opened their own online businesses and the mask boom was upon us.
We all felt so bad for all our 12th graders, 8th graders, 5th graders, and yes, even preschoolers, who went without ceremonies or traditional celebrations for their accomplishments. Some people got creative- yard signs, car parades, and the like, but nothing was normal about 2020. In our town, a great real estate/community outreach outfit put together a balloon backdrop and provided graduation caps for graduates of all ages, and free pictures. Very sweet. It was something!!
We had a military flyover, and drove into Baltimore City to watch, masked, and socially distanced. We got there just in time to see the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds boom over us. But as soon as it started, it was over. Those jets really, well, JET. We got in the car and went home. We were surprised to see so many people out in the street. It was like a block party that lasted a mile. It became very clear that nobody was taking this thing very seriously, and we no longer wondered how numbers were still going up. Everyone was really locked down in the suburbs, but the city was like a party!
The summer seemed to bring a little bit of normalcy, as far as the pool was concerned. The kids were so happy to be able to swim and play with some of their cousins. There were no incidents of Covid at or stemming from our time at the pool (though one lifeguard got it toward the end of the summer). We went to DC for the 4th of July, and parked along the highway to watch. We were able to go to the beach for a week- it too, was pretty empty. We played outside all we wanted. Went on day trips to state parks. Things we would normally do. We even upgraded the couch. If we were going to be stuck at home all the time, we may as well do so comfortably!
The summer was kind of fun. And yes, there was cake.
Fall brought Homeschooling, a new endeavor for our family. I talk all about the decision to do this here. It has been a rewarding experience for all, so far. It was definitely took a leap of faith, but everyone is thriving and happy. Our 3rd grade son just finished Treasure Island and wrote his first book report. Our 6 year old daughter just ran through some addition flashcards with me. “I’m learning so fast!” she said proudly. Our littlest is still enrolled in a public school Pre-K threes class and has just started hybrid. He’s doing great too. Leaps and bounds from where he was a year ago.
We had our big birthday month, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
The seasons changed, but it really has been a long, dark winter. Still and all, we had cake.
All and all, I try to think of the positive things that happened this year. I’m so happy that we were able to spend so much time together, because life is short. We shared many more moments together than we would have on any other normal year. For that, I am grateful. May these kids remember the time when all they had was each other. And cake.