Originally published March 20 on Medium
Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Did you brush your teeth? Tomorrow is a school day. Not really. But really. Do your math, read a book, there will be a spelling test. Yes, it counts. Do a good job. Don’t worry. It doesn’t really count. Dream sweet dreams. Did you wash your hands?
What’s first? Science or art or music or math? Yes, we will do them all. But not if we can’t do them all. We will try. We will make it work. Unless we can’t. Yes, of course we can. It’s only a couple of weeks. Unless it’s more. Let’s just have fun. It won’t be all fun. Wash your hands.
Go to the park but don’t touch the playground. You already touched the playground? I guess it’s ok. But maybe it’s not. Stop touching your face. Run in the grass, ride your bike, throw your ball. Only to your brother. Only to me. Only to dad. Everything’s normal. But not normal. Wash your hands.
We can’t have your birthday party but we will have your birthday party. I don’t know when. I promise we will. But I don’t know when. We’ll still have birthday cake. Let’s go to the store. We need more bread. We had plenty. Now we do not. Stay in the car. There is no bread. It’s ok. It’s not ok. We don’t have bread but we do have cake. Don’t touch your face. Wash your hands.
Time for school. Ok, in your pajamas. Treat me like your teacher but also still your mom. It’s confusing but not really. Recess. Go outside. Play. Who’s scooter is that? Oh, hi Neighborhood Friend. Is that my boy’s new bike? You switched? Ok. It’s ok. But maybe it’s not. Laugh your silly boy jokes and play your silly boy games. Just not too close. It’s just like being at school. But not at all like being at school. Come over tomorrow but stay in the driveway. Six feet away. Wash your hands.
Shhh. The governor is on. We have to stay in. Not locked in. But don’t go out. We can still go out to play. We can run on the beach. Why are there so many people at the beach? It’s ok. They stay away. We stay away. The waves come close and retreat. Come close and retreat. We see our friends. Get close and retreat. Wash your hands.
Let’s call Nana and Papa. Remind them to stay inside. It’s not safe for them. It’s safe for us. But maybe not. We will visit. Soon. Later. Yes, when it’s over. Though it’ll never really be over. Maybe there will be a shot. No, not yet. Relax. No one is getting a shot. Doctors aren’t scary. Illness is. Doctors help. Viruses hurt. Ok, shots hurt a little. Wash your hands.
I don’t know when. I don’t know for how long. I don’t know why. I don’t know. I don’t know. But I do know. I know: more hugging, more laughing, more sunshine. We need to see our friends. There they are! Behind the screen. Touchable but untouchable. Near and far. Not like yesterday. Probably not like tomorrow. I don’t know. Wash your hands.
We’re lucky for our place. Unlucky for this time. Be grateful. Be careful. It’s not just about us. Right now it’s just us. Everything’s fine. Not normal but fine. None of us are going to die. Some of us are dying. But no, none of us are going to get sick. We could get sick. So we’ll stay away. Locked in and locked out. In school but not in school. Together but separate. Simple and complicated. Don’t touch your face. Wash your hands.