Missing in action since March 13th:
- winter boots
- water bottles
- fishy crackers
It’s been three months already since our kids were sent home for three weeks of what was supposed to be March break followed by a two week window between winter vacations and back to school.
I took the girls to their school a couple of weeks ago to empty their lockers and collect their belongings from their classrooms. We had fifteen minutes to get the task done. Staff were understanding and well prepared to safely have us travel through the school, including having emptied the students classroom belongings into a bag atop their desk.
It was tough for the girls to see the halls so bare and quiet in early June. They saw a few staff and teachers they knew, had a bit of a goodbye, and we were on our way. It would be the last time my eldest would see the school as a student, and never again would I drop her off on the playground in the morning with a kiss, a hug, and I love you.
It’s now June 15th. There is skepticism that public schools will even open in September given the direction we’ve seen post secondary institutions go, with them having already signaled that their classes will all be online in the fall.
Staying at home has been hard on all of us, but it’s breakdowns like we had last night at our house, that remind us that all of this has been a lot to cope with for our youth. Missing their friends, frustrations with online learning, cancellation of grade eight trips and grads and the entire Scott Park baseball season. Dresses long bought, pre-season warmups were already underway.
We went for a long drive Saturday night. We had no destination but we knew we just had to leave the house. We’ve been afraid to go too far with there being no washrooms open but we did the best we could to prepare ourselves and set sail for the open country. Loud music, lot’s of singing, dog drools, ice cream, and one kid so eager to go she didn’t even bring shoes.
My youngest tried hockey this year with mostly no luck. No games were played, and only a handful of practices were attended. We realized her anxiety wasn’t long gone after all. She was invited to try out with the Hamilton Hawks girls hockey league later in the season, where immediately she took to the ice and had a few practices in before the season was called off due to this pandemic. She was sad and it broke my heart. She had finally found her place among the girls and I was so proud of her after how hard she worked all year to try to overcome her anxiety and play with the boys.
Scouts have been online and I am grateful for the effort they have put into hosting meetings on Zoom including a game of Bingo or a virtual campout which saw us pop a tent in our small yard. My wife and I even gave it a go one night. Well, she lasted until 3 a.m.so the pooch and I roughed it the last mile on our own.
I’ve gotten used to wearing masks in stores and I wouldn’t be upset if I never had to go back to the office again. Working from home full-time has always been my dream so I am making the best of it. I’m sitting here in my jammies before starting the work day having a coffee with cats curled up all around me. The sounds of my wife outside on a Zoom meeting with her colleagues passes through the open kitchen window, and I see our pup curled around her back. It’s a bit cool this morning but my wife has found her happy place among the gushing of the pool pump, the birds chirping, and an office surrounded by virtual windows.
The two youngest girls have had play dates this past two weekends with a friend each, with the eldest eagerly anticipating the same. There is some normal returning but I am not eager for a complete return to the way things were. There has been a new peace and connection through these difficult times.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t holding on tight to this time with the girls. At soon to be 12, 13, and 14, with normal life activities like sleepovers, sports, etc., and only seeing my two half of the time, spending all day with them is a gift. I have enjoyed being a part of their learning as well and being a techie, I hope I have made this transition to online learning at least a little less stressful for them. We’ve tried our best to give them a little push with their studies, but not to the point of a nervous breakdown. After all, we knew immediately that their marks before March break were going to be their end of year grades although any work they did complete online, could go towards improving their final marks.
I hope we never find ourselves in this world position again. Shame on us for not being prepared but now every political and social conversation going forward should be with Covid-19 in mind, and how to safely continue in the future should we be faced with a similar or worse pandemic. We’ve all taken it seriously in our household and extended family, and understand the need to protect lives. We are proud to live in a country and province that took it slow and with the utmost of care and concern for human life.
I’m sad for our two oldest who won’t get to say goodbye to their schools; especially our eldest who has been at her school for 7 years. I would have loved for them to at least been able to march through their halls with the teachers and staff standing at their doorways, saying one final goodbye with some sort of message delivered on the playground with the students all spread safely apart.
I’m upset that we won’t get to see our girls all play on the same baseball team for what might have possibly been one last season as it’s a joy to watch them all play together. Baseball seemed like a sport where social distancing measures could have easily been put into place with some creative thinking and planning. Perhaps all the kiddos could have worn helmets with an itech type visor over their nose and mouths instead of their eyes. 6 feet apart on lawn chairs behind the dugout. The umpire with a collection of sanitized balls that a volunteer cleans throughout the game.
One thing I especially took form my time as school board trustee, is that elected officials are knee deep in committee and community meetings, reading long reports, answering calls and emails and social media shout outs, to really have proper time for the creative thinking and advocacy that lead up to being thrust into piles of paperwork and meetings as elected officials.
Let’s lend them a creative hand, and not wait for the political powers to plan what our lives will look like in this new future. A simple email or phone call could spark something in them and your voice can be heard through your elected official or one of their colleagues. It happened to me before I was elected and it’s moments like that, we realize our ideas do matter and they can have a platform. We just have to release them into the wind and never give up if it’s something we are passionate about.
Even better, find a group of like-minded individuals, fine tune and workshop those ideas, and present them as a collective. We are all experts in the jobs and tasks we have done over many years or a lifetime. That experience and the visions I am sure you all have swirling around your cranium every day as you come across things that either don’t work, or could be done better, are critical for moving us in the right direction as a society.
Covid-19 has shone a black light on so many of the holes in our systems from long-term care homes to how many businesses and systems don’t withstand a crisis well or at all. It’s also opened our eyes to how disease spreads and hopefully these lessons can also help us reduce the spread of common colds and especially the flu and pneumonia. 500 to 1500 people die in Canada of influenza and combined with pneumonia, more than 8,000 die a year. We have also seen a dramatic increase in seasonal influenza cases based on laboratory testing, from 7,027 cases in 1999-2000, to 55,059 cases in 2017-2018 and 42,526 cases in the 2019-2020 flu season.
I want for my kids — and for everyone, to be safe, but I don’t want them to miss out on school in September, hockey in the fall, Scouts, drum lessons, and all the things that keep our kids physically and mentally healthy if we can at all help it.
What are your ideas? Get them out there. To your boss. A business you don’t want to lose in the community. To your elected officials or local sport or community organizations. Let’s all have a say in our new normal and where you may not have input on certain aspects of society, don’t be shy to share the ideas and lift the voices of others as well. It’s nice to know that our input on and the work we put into making our world a better place, is appreciated, valued, and heard.
I’ve put together a contact list for Crown Point leaders and assets. It’s not exhaustive but it’s a start. You can find it on our The Point Community News Google Sheet.
And that’s The Point.
How are your school-aged children and teens dealing with the pandemic? We’d love to hear from them. Stories can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call us at 289-689-2870 and tell us your story over the phone. We can do the writing for you.