A Day With Lots of Feelings

Yesterday morning, my 11-year-old woke up with a cough. He had coughed a few times the day before, but nothing regular. I chalked it up to “reactions to springtime weather” and gave him some Benadryl. But yesterday, it crossed the line into “persistent cough.”

Every morning, my kids have to be screened for Covid symptoms. This is done through a self-certification process on the school’s app. When I got to the question “Does your child have a new (list of symptoms, including cough)” I replied “Yes.” Immediately, a pop-up appeared that I would need to keep him home, which I expected. Nothing happened when I checked in my 9-year-old, so I assumed he could still go to school.

I then left with the 3-year-old to drive her to preschool. While waiting in the car in the drive-thru lane at Starbucks, I received a phone call from the school. The 9-year-old would need to stay home also, and the school nurse would call me later. After briefly pausing, I decided to drive the 3-year-old back home. If the elementary school wanted siblings to stay home, I was certain the preschool would want the same.

Both the school and the preschool required proof of a negative Covid test for the kids to return. I found a clinic that claimed to have quick turnaround on test results. I called to make sure that it was the right type of test (PCR) and took my son to the clinic.

We had to wait a very long time in the car – the clinic would not allow us to wait inside. But once called in, it was a quick check of his blood pressure and then the nasal swab for the Covid test. Then more waiting. The doctor came in about 30 minutes later and informed us that the test was negative.

It wasn’t until later that day that I realized how much stress I had been holding around getting that Covid test. Even while knowing that kids often have mild symptoms, and while my husband and I have been vaccinated, I still did not want Covid in our house. No one knows the long-term effects for kids that get it, and having to quarantine with the kids for so long – when they have only recently turned to school – would be devastating.

Later that afternoon, I learned on Twitter that the jury had reached a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. I opened my CNN app just as the headline was changing: guilty on all three counts in the murder of George Floyd. I immediately said “Oh thank god” and started crying. It isn’t justice for George Floyd losing his life at the hands of a police officer, but it is accountability. It is one step in the right direction.

Because I had spent the day wrangling three kids at home, I told my husband that I needed the evening to myself. I ordered UberEats and sat on my bed, eating my sandwich. I cried some more. For George Floyd, for Covid-related stress, for snow that had appeared that morning even though it is the second half of April. I’d had a headache for the better half of twelve hours. For an all-around long day.

Beginning to See the Light

Beginning to See the Light

All of my “memories” popping up from this time last year reflect our first few days of Shelter in Place in Illinois. Schools were closed and remote learning was mostly independent work (which was a disaster). I made a schedule for my kids and tried to keep them entertained through the volume of free content made available by different companies and individuals as they tried to help parents that were adjusting. There were YouTube art classes, virtual museum tours, and sing-a-longs. Our energy to engage in these activities waned quickly as the weeks of isolation dragged on.

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One Year of Pandemic Later

It has been a year since had any type of “normal.” On March 13, 2020 we pre-emptively kept our kids home from school. We saw the writing on the wall that schools would likely be closing due to COVID-19, and we were right. Later that same day, our governor announced the closure of schools, limits on capacity in businesses, and other measures to curb the spread. The day before, we had gone shopping, thinking that we might be in “lockdown” for several weeks.

How wrong we were.

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Back to the Classroom

Just shy of one year since my kids have last seen the inside of a classroom, my kids will be returning to school next week.

Remote learning has been a struggle. From the early days of trying to establish a routine to changing techniques to keep my kids engaged, it has often felt like a losing battle. I kept telling myself that it won’t be forever, but I have also spent more time crying on the phone to the teachers (and principal) than all prior years of elementary school combined. The longer the year dragged on, the more it felt like a toll on our mental health.

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