We’ve fallen into a routine of sorts. It wasn’t the routine I was hoping for, but it is a routine all the same, and whether or not it’s perfect is of no matter. It’s just nice to have some predictability.
Every morning when I get Amelia out of bed, she asks what day it is. She always used to do that, but she was trying to verify if it was a school day or not.
“It’s Tuesday,” I tell her.
“No school today,” she answers back.
“No, no school today. School’s closed. No school for a while now.” And I silently wonder how much she understands. She knows everything is closed because everyone is sick. She thinks it’s because she’s sick (we both have colds now). I wonder what will happen when we’re both feeling better, if she’ll think we can go out and do things then. “Mama and Mimi day,” I say.
“Family day,” she insists.
“Well, Daddy’s here, but he’s working.”
“He’s in the home office.”
“Gonna go tell him good morning.” She disappears down the hall.
It’s quite nice. She wakes up every day smiling, energetic. No struggling, no tears, no refusal to get dressed. I let her watch cartoons while I drink my coffee. Then we play Candyland and Go Fish and color and draw.
And I’m strangely content, which is not something I usually am after watching Amelia nonstop for nine hours a day, for being submerged in toddler talk and games and not having a minute to myself, to do anything for myself. The general consensus around the virus, though, is that Michigan won’t “peak” with cases until mid May. Which means social distancing for six more weeks at the least. Maybe I subconsciously realize that this is going to last a lot longer than I hoped it would, and maybe that has flipped a patience switch somewhere, allowing me to accept and maybe even appreciate this time I have with Amelia.
The weather has turned. The sun is out, and the temperature is rising. It’s the perfect spring day to be outside.
Unfortunately, every other Michigander feels this way.
Amelia rode in the stroller as I walked the trail to the playground. But the trail was overrun with people desperate for Vitamin D. The trail width itself is a mere 3 feet, half the size of the recommended between people. My walk changed to a jog, zig-zagging around various virus bombs as fast as possible, holding my breath, as if that would make a difference. My sanctuary of nature felt more like a minefield with all these people around.
I let out a breath of relief when we reached the playground, empty except for one family: a mom and three kids. There are two playground sets, so we went to the one they weren’t on. But out of nowhere, I turned around, and there was a 6-year-old boy standing right behind me. I put my hand on the back of Amelia’s head to guide her to step further away while I looked at the boy in disgust, as is he were the virus himself. But every step away we took, he took a step closer.
“You better get over to your family,” I told him.
“Because we’re not supposed to be around strangers right now. There’s a virus.”
“Yeah, we have to stay three feet away.”
“Six,” I corrected.
He just stared at me.
I glanced over my shoulder at his family on the other play set, completely oblivious to the fact that one kid was missing. I continued to guide Amelia away from him, serving as a blockade between him and her.
I wasn’t sure what else to do. I didn’t want to hurt this poor kid’s feelings. He was just trying to make a friend. He had been away from his friends for weeks now. He hadn’t met anyone new. He knew what he was supposed to do–stay away–but likely didn’t understand the severity, so didn’t want to follow the rules.
I couldn’t see him as a confused little boy, though. I could only see him as a potential threat to my life and my daughter’s life.