I am so glad 2020 is over. It’s such an overstated understatement; everyone has been saying it, but it just doesn’t properly convey the relief of moving into 2021. Last year was packed full of so much: a frightening new virus, political division, racial injustices, a half million deaths, wildfires, tornadoes. The list goes on and on. It also made our lives feel small in that lockdown took away our kids’ playdates, our social interactions at work, and our comfortability with simple tasks like grocery shopping. It was a difficult transition to say the least.
Our family’s world revolved around avoiding the virus at all costs. We were definitely the strictest about the pandemic among our group of friends and neighbors. In line with our risk mitigation plan, my husband and I decided to keep our two sons in temporary remote schooling through the end of this school year. We just didn’t want to chance them being exposed at school even though we’d be sacrificing their social interactions for the year. Luckily our boys acclimated quickly to remote learning and were blessed with some amazing virtual teachers. Spending time with their classmates still happened but was watered-down and less personal than if they were together in a classroom. Zoom is a great tool but isn’t a substitute for the real thing.
We were satisfied with the academic education that our boys were getting online, but I was nervous they’d fall behind in their social skills and ability to make friends. It wasn’t until my husband and I were fully vaccinated that we felt comfortable with them playing with other kids. Last week I decided to take the plunge and bring them to a playground for the first time in over a year. They were practically shaking with excitement as we pulled into the parking space and I let them out of the car.
They took off running as I gathered the hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and my composure.
I wasn’t sure how they’d react to the other kids playing there since they hadn’t had a playdate in months. Would they be reluctant to interact since I’d been instructing them to keep their distance from others for over a year? Had they adopted my virus paranoia? Would they keep to themselves and play, just the two of them? What I saw made my heart swell. My boys went right up to a group of kids, kept their six feet of distance, and immediately started playing with them. They didn’t know these kids and didn’t care what the game was - they just wanted to be with them. They wanted the normalcy of pre-pandemic and they felt it that afternoon.
Seeing my kids happily play with other children alleviated the anxiety that had been building in me around our decision to keep them out of school. Throughout the pandemic I’d heard about the resiliency of kids and I was able to see it in action that day. My boys bounced right back into the playground social scene without any hesitation or trepidation.