My almost 5-year-old ran back to her bedroom, shut the door and started blasting Disney music.
When I opened the door, I found her sitting on the floor, surrounded by Barbie dolls and frowning. I asked her what was wrong. She refused to answer.
I sat next to her, scooped her up and again asked what bothered her. She buried her face in my chest.
“I miss my school. I miss my family. I miss going places,” she uttered between sobs. “I just want this sickness to go away.”
My eyes filled with tears, too.
As my husband and I work from home, we schedule when one of us gets uninterrupted time in our office (formerly the guest room/office, the room now serves as a newsroom and classroom, too). While on a media call with the Pennsylvania secretary of education, I threw Goldfish crackers at my 2-year-old so she wouldn’t scream when I had the chance to ask a question. I try desperately to keep the kids quiet while my husband is on a Google hangout with his “other kids” — 20-plus fourth graders he now teaches remotely.
In the midst of being overwhelmed, I remind myself that we’re lucky.
We are able to safely shelter in place and work at home, as essential workers, including masked grocery store employees and health care workers, continue to serve our community in ways that were hard to imagine just two months ago. I have never felt so many emotions at once.
My daughter, who turns 5 next week, understands she can’t have a big birthday party this year. Soccer practice, aquarium visits and trips to the playground are also off limits. During “virtual playdates” with preschool friends, they make plans to get together “after the sickness is over.” We’ll never take such simple things for granted again.
As she continues to ask questions about the “sickness” and when life can be normal again, I found some great resources about how to speak to children about the coronavirus.
KidsHealth suggests presenting information in an age-appropriate way.
PBS provides tips on self-care and how to stick to a routine.
The CDC also provides ideas on how to talk to children about germs and the importance of washing hands.
What tips do you have? Email me at email@example.com.
Sarah balances life as a reporter for The Times-Tribune and as the mom of two little girls. A graduate of Ithaca College, Sarah started covering education in 2006. She has received awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association, Inland Press Association and Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association. She lives in Clarks Summit with her husband, their daughters and their sweet pug, Sadie. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 570-348-9133 or @HofiusHallTT.