When they announced that schools would be closed after March Break, I saw the flurry of panic amongst my peers on Facebook. The main message was: “How are we going to do this?”
Because my eldest only started kindergarten this past September, the transition has not been so difficult. We’re used to being home together, and I don’t have to stress about curriculum since both kids fall into the play-based learning category. Though there certainly are some challenges staying home with small children, I am incredibly grateful to have their love and cuddles during these unprecedented times. My partner, now working from home, is able to witness the little things for himself, as opposed to receiving a few photos of what they’ve been up to during the day.
The kids seem to have a general understanding about staying home to avoid germs. They’re happy at home and not overly bothered that everything is closed. It’s difficult keeping them physically separated from family and friends, but we’re lucky they are young enough to not be fearful during this time. We have a backyard, a full fridge, and a huge support network (albeit now virtual). We are as privileged as they come. Yet even I have bouts of difficulty with this. As I sit in my safe little bubble, I wonder what is happening in other homes. For the very first time, we are all in this together, but the pandemic is affecting people incredibly differently within the city and around the world. Adults and children are living in quarantine with their abusers; people are facing homelessness or living with severe mental health or addiction issues; people are living in conditions that don’t allow for social distancing or don’t have the capability to wash their hands — the list is endless and for that my heart is heavy.
As an environmental activist, I yearn for people to wake up to the fact that our pre-COVID way of life was undeniably unsustainable. Will this experience be enough to convince society to give up some of our comforts? Will people stop flying unnecessarily? Will telecommuting become a new norm? Will people pay attention to their water usage, food waste and buying habits? Many have taken to exploring nature as a way to get out of the house or started growing their own food and baking their own bread. Will they continue after these quarantines have been lifted? Will this appreciation for seemingly “unskilled” workers, whom we are now relying on to survive, be sustained? Many want things to go back to “normal,” but normal most certainly wasn’t working. The longer this goes on, the less likely we are to go back to business as usual. Perhaps that’s a good thing.
My anxiety is like a rollercoaster and I know that I’m not alone. This period of time is filled with uncertainty. What will happen? When will this end? Are people going to be ok? What can we do but take it one day at a time? What can we do but rely on the insight of our mentors and teachers?
I often look to my children for wisdom and that has been no different during these weird times. As my four-year-old said, “It’s ok. When the sickness is gone we can see each other again.” For now, help wherever you can. Local grassroots groups have been set up to ensure vulnerable people in the community can get through this.
Here are two you can join today: CareMongering-HamOnt and Hamilton Jewish Community Response to COVID19.