The Same Thing, Over and Over

It’s 3:30 pm on a Monday. My 4th grader should be just wrapping up his school day. My 6th grader wraps up half an hour earlier and the 4-year-old finishes preschool at 4:00 p.m. But today, all three kids are home.

The 4th grader and I both developed sore throats on Saturday night. I thought maybe it was due to paint fumes since we had been repainting our basement, but when it persisted until Sunday morning I took both of us to get rapid Covid tests. When the antigen tests came back negative, I was relieved – even though I knew that they are not 100% accurate. Paint fumes had to be the culprit, I told myself.

However my sore throat got worse and my 4th grader developed a fever later that evening. I tossed and turned all night with sinus pressure so bad that I couldn’t sleep.

I knew what I had to do: keep my 4th grader home until we could get PCR tests, which is what the school requires for any Covid symptoms. It also meant that I needed to keep the 6th grader and 4-year-old home until we got the “all clear” from the school nurse.

There is a clinic near my house that does rapid PCR tests – results within 15 minutes. I’ve had to take both the 6th grader and 4-year-old there before. I quickly found that the clinic had no appointments available today (likely indicative of the growing Covid spread in our area). I could get an appointment for Tuesday morning through, so scheduled both the 4th grader and myself.

My brain quickly went to the disruption of my Monday. I knew what work-related things I had planned to do and tried to quickly spin through how I could manage them all – while watching three kids. My husband would normally help on a day like this, but he started a new job last week and had trainings scheduled all day. I still felt under the weather myself, an odd feeling after going nearly 18 months without being sick at all. It really hit me like a truck.

I metaphorically threw up my hands and said, “I can’t do it.” I’m not even going to try to work and watch the kids. Call it an unexpected day off.

With pending Covid results, the 4th grader and I wore masks inside our own home today. Even though I seriously doubt Covid, why spread any germs around? I think I’m going to normalize masks in our home permanently when someone is sick. I remember a time when my husband and I both had an awful virus and had to debate who was sicker so that the other person could take care of the kids. We’ve had influenza, strep, and other illnesses take down multiple people in the house before. Now that we’re used to wearing masks, let’s try to cut that down.

I told the 6th grader that I would pay him to be a “baby-sitter” for the 4-year-old: follow her around and play whatever she wants to play. I sent the 4th grader down to his room to rest and I took a nap, feeling much better after I woke up.

Then I tried to figure out what the two older kids needed to do for schoolwork that day. The district website said that anyone in quarantine would be provided remote assignments. I had the 4th grader check his Chromebook. Nothing assigned in his Google Classroom. Not much for the 6th grader either.

I’m trying not to be frustrated. But I had to dig up this information from the district on my own. I know that the school year has just started, but the district had to know that as soon as they opened their doors that kids would be forced home due to Covid symptoms or exposure. It just feels like we are flailing, yet again.

At least in Fall of 2020, I knew the remote learning plan. It was crystal clear what would happen all day long with the teachers. It was incredibly rough because my kids were terrible at remote learning but I knew how much effort the teachers put into trying to make it work. This feels more like Spring of 2020 when we were sent home abruptly and the kids were mostly on their own during the day.

The school year just started so I can only hope that it will get better. I also hope that our PCR tests will come back negative for Covid and my kids will be back in their classrooms by around midday tomorrow.

I’m just so tired. Tired of the worrying that every little sniffle might be Covid. Tired of constantly adjusting to changes in the school so it feels like we’re never “back to even-keel.” Tired of doing things like spending 90 minutes in the car every day dropping the kids off at their respective schools at the respective times because I don’t like the idea of everyone smashed together on a bus with poor ventilation. Tired of needing to make those decisions: how can I best keep my kids safe in an overall sucky situation?

The governor of Illinois re-imposed the indoor mask mandate today, regardless of vaccine status and I’m relieved. I never stopped wearing masks inside because I don’t trust the people around me to follow the rules. And while I know my risk of serious illness is low, the Delta variant has shown that I’m not immune and I have to think about what would happen if I brought Covid home to my unvaccinated kids.

The nap today on my unexpected day off? Wasn’t nearly enough. It’s been over and over since March of 2020 and sometimes we think we’re making headway only to feel like we are again sliding backward.