COLUMN: Kids with questions, cancelled vacations and adjusting to a new reality

A lot of changes to keep up with over the last two weeks with arrival of COVID-19

The world looked a lot different just a couple weeks ago.

My husband and I were in countdown mode for our second honeymoon. Bring on Costa Rica’s sandy beaches and carefree childless days in the sunshine.

As for the kids, our two girls were eager to perform the dance routines they’d rehearsed all year. Life was normal(ish). Our family calendar was packed with parties, playdates, trips to the dentist, etc.

While there was some murmuring about a virus ravaging a city in China, we were far enough away to be safe. Or so we thought.

Those were the good old days. *Sigh*

First came the memes (I shared a few myself), then came the “toilet-roll-aggedon,” followed by the most commonly used buzzword of 2020 — social distancing.

Way back then, we didn’t realize how much our routines were about to change — indefinitely.

Like some apocalyptic Hollywood movie, borders have been shut down, flights canceled, nuptials postponed, schools closed, lives put on hold, and dreams shattered.

Instead of toasting 15 years of marriage on a tropical beach, Jason and I are self-isolating in a cramped townhouse with two dogs, a gecko, a hamster, and two squirrelly kids.

The last pair can’t seem to comprehend why they shouldn’t put their fingers, remote control — or anything at all for that matter— in their mouths.

Hands are red and raw; little ones are wondering when they can see their friends again, and playgrounds are desolate.

My inbox keeps pinging with the announcement of another small business closing up shop.

Despite the lack of personal space and a dark cloud of uncertainty that looms overhead, we are the lucky ones. *Knock on wood*

Of all the changes, it was the school closure that hit our older daughter the hardest.

“Mom, it’s not fair!” said Molly, 10, after hearing Trudeau’s big announcement.

“I’m still learning long division and my song for choir. What about my friends and teachers – will I ever get to see them again?”

I generally pride myself on being able to come up with an answer on the spot, but lately I’ve been a loss for words.

This stuff wasn’t in What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

At first, playgrounds were deemed safe, so off we went to the local park for a picnic. I brought along our last bottle of hand sanitizer and warned them not to put their hands anywhere near their faces or to play with any of the kids there.

A group of children started to head our way, and it felt like a scene out of The Walking Dead.

“Come on, girls, let’s go. NOW!” I said, hastily packing up our half-eaten lunch.

I’d gone from being this carefree anti-helicopter parent to an anxiety-ridden militant Mommy Dearest in a matter of days.

We’re OK with our cancelled trip, but constantly worry about the kids.

Will they be OK? Will I actually have to teach long-division and fractions? God help them both.

The house was quiet for a good 45 minutes before I dared creep upstairs. I fully expected them to be immersed with some game on their pads, as per usual.

What I saw brought tears to my eyes – happy ones.

“Do you like it?” asked Zoe, 8, who was clipping scraps of paper and gluing them to a poster board.

They were making a collage of inspirational quotes.

Both were smiling dimple-to-dimple as the sunshine spilled onto the carpet, illuminating positive messages like, “It’s all going to be okay” and “Why be anyone else when you can just be yourself!”

Guess they’re not as traumatized as I thought.

In a matter of seconds, this Valley mom went from feeling powerless to proud.

Everything can change in an instant, even from bad to good.

In the meantime, parents, we’re all in this together — from a safe social distance.

Kristyl Clark is the founder of the award-winning family blog ValleyMom.ca. Follow her on Facebook @ValleyMom.ca and Instagram at @ValleyMom.ca

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