What has surprised you?
That E. has missed school as much as he has. This is a child who had been spending the entire school year counting down to the various holidays. I thought he’d be thrilled to be at home, and I also thought he’d be advocating for homeschooling once this was all over. He can see some advantages to being at home, but he really misses school – the routine, his friends, his teachers, music, library, hot lunch, everything. That’s been a nice realization because school can be TOUGH for him, but I’ve always known there’s no possible way I could homeschool and preserve our relationship. It’s been helpful to learn that he doesn’t want to be at home either.
On a less positive note, I had a truly surreal conversation with my father a couple of weeks ago where he sounded like he’d been watching Fox News. He was insisting that we had overreacted to COVID, that it was much less worse than the flu, and that Canada needed to just let the virus run its course so that the economy could be reopened. This was particularly unsettling given my Dad (as long-time readers of the blog might remember) is a C2 quadriplegic after a freak accident in 2016. So he’s just about the highest-risk category you can get in terms of COVID-19 and complications. I’m hoping I just caught my Dad on a bad day. He’s completely isolated in the long-term care facility – no visitors in and he’s not allowed out – and I’m sure he’s bored senseless. But it was a really upsetting conversation and I was surprised that he seemed to be taking the view that a) the economy was everything and b) the economy would work just fine while the virus was ravaging the country.
I might have said that our premier’s response has been a pleasant surprise but I’m still fuming about his suggestion that families should go away and have fun over March Break (this after announcing that the schools were going to be closed for (at the time) two weeks following the vacation). That was a huge mistake and we paid for it in case numbers. He had been doing a relatively decent job since then listening to the experts but he’s blotted his copybook in recent days by breaking some of his own rules.
What has not surprised you?
It’s sad to say, but I’m honestly not surprised that south of the border the Orange Tyrant’s response to COVID has been the giant dumpster fire that it currently is. I’m really upset for Americans generally that this has happened, but I’m not surprised. I’m maybe a bit more surprised that the UK has mismanaged their response so badly, but not by much – not after Boris Johnson was bragging about shaking hands early in the piece and treating it like no big deal.
What about the future creates feelings of worry or fear?
SO MUCH WORRY. SO MUCH FEAR.
I worry that we will be living with this for months or years to come, that we will be locked down again by the fall, or the winter. I worry that I will be trying to balance my children’s mental health with my own, and that my quiet, calm, rational reminders to E. that this will all be over one day will look increasingly like falsehoods as more waves of infection come.
I worry that I will be again trying to teach online in the fall semester (something which looks ever more likely by the day to judge from the communications from our administration). This will be challenging but manageable, but ONLY if my children are in school. I have contracts for two courses at the moment. One of them is already planned to be online but is a completely new prep. The other is one I’ve taught for several years, but never online. Putting both online would be a huge amount of work. Putting both online with the children at home would be… I can’t even think of the words. It would be bad. Really bad.
I worry that there will be food shortages. Or food scarcity. I worry that we are not stockpiling enough food. I worry that we might actually NEED our stockpiled food, that this is not just a “just in case” situation, that this is more than Q.’s own anxiety being given a focus.
I worry that the situation in higher education will be so terrible by the next academic year that my courses will be cancelled (because I am not tenured) and even Q.’s (tenured) position could be threatened.
I worry that my children will grow up in a precarious world, that we, as a species, are on the downwards slope. I worried about this before COVID because of climate change, but I worry about it even more now. I worry that I have done them a great injustice by bringing them into the world and by believing that they would have the same opportunities to live rich, full, rewarding, safe lives like I have.
I don’t worry about all of this all of the time, but this is the undercurrent. We are FINE in the moment, but I don’t feel safe or secure in the long-term.
What have you truly enjoyed about sheltering in place?
Oh I hate this kind of question so much. Finding a silver lining, ANY silver lining for this entire situation is very difficult. As I said in my first set of answers, I don’t think all this togetherness has been good for my family, or our relationships with each other. Q. and I are like ships passing in the night.
I have been glad to have a bit more time to devote to our veggie garden, as I’ve been planting seeds outside and starting them indoors with the kids as part of our science work. Back in April, when it was warmer (!), it felt luxurious to be digging in the dirt in the middle of the day under a blue sky.
There have maybe been some slight hints that all the time together is possibly leading to P. and E. developing better ways to interact with each other, but the jury is still out (and even if this proves to be true, the process of arriving at this point has been deeply painful).
But honestly, there is very little else that I can point to and say I’ve truly enjoyed this. Q. and I are juggling every ball we have. It’s all we can do to keep them in the air.
Who or what has impressed you in a positive way?
I’ve been impressed with E.’s teacher, who is trying so hard to make virtual schooling work. And P’s nursery school teachers have been wonderful as well, sending videos every week and emails with suggested activities (none of which we do, poor neglected second child).
I wish I could say I was more impressed with our leadership at the federal and provincial level, but I feel like we never quite get a proper handle on what is happening. We don’t seem to be able to properly roll out the magnitude of testing that would be necessary for track-and-trace, and I don’t know why. It’s been hard watching our outcomes diverge so dramatically from Australia’s.
What will you do differently when life normalizes?
I don’t know. What does ‘normalize’ mean? Will we go back to life as it was before the pandemic, or will there be lasting changes in our society/community?
I suspect I’ll feel uncomfortable in large crowds and in crowded places (like transit) for quite some time.
I hope I still want to hug people.
What memory or moment will you talk about in ten years?
I don’t know that I have a stand out memory. E. will remember his own experiences. I’m not sure how much P. will remember.
I think the image of them both biking up and down the laneway behind our house, day after day, for hours at a time, because it wasn’t safe to go anywhere else, will stick with me.