This winter the Parent Resource Center had the opportunity to run a bilingual writers workshop with fellow Long Island not-for-profit Herstory Writers Workshop. The workshop topic of " Mothering in a Pandemic" provided a unique experience to create literature while finding support and connection from others. Long time board member Kathleen Admirand-Dimmler shares her story with us, thank you, Kathleen.
"Pandemic Parenting" Kathleen Admirand-Dimmler
We put on our masks and left the car. This beach park wasn’t our first choice. The preserve trails had been such a comfort in recent weeks and felt like an escape. But the preserve was shut down days before due to Covid. It seemed like the world was closing in on us. Every place that made the world seem normal like school or church has been closed. It’s getting more difficult to explain all this to a seven-year-old when I have a hard time understanding it myself.
“It will be so nice to get some fresh air.” The adults repeated this; knowing we were trying to be comforting to each other as much as ourselves.
“Luke, remember you can’t go to the playground. It's not open right now. There may be germs and we just want to keep everyone safe. But we are going to take a nice walk on the boardwalk. It will be really fun. "
I wondered how much longer this beach would be open. We started to walk. I must have been delusional thinking about a calm walk with a seven-year-old who has ADHD and is always in motion. We had just started walking when he honed in on the playground. It was maybe feet away. I think I saw some yellow hazard tape, but that was not going to stop him.
Luke ran toward the playground. He ran so fast that he was a blur in front of me. I could not catch him. It wasn't as if Luke was a two-year-old who could get hurt climbing up the slide's ladder. At seven he could handle any of it. But he ran toward the red and black pulsating Covid virus germs they had been showing on the news; the ones on the same playground equipment. The experts were saying kids might be able to get Covid, and it could be worse for them. And if not him, he could bring it home to Grandma or Grandpa. The information seemed to change every day and it was terrifying.
I was furious as I got to the playground, "Luke, I can't believe you didn't listen to me! I told you not to go to the playground. It's not safe." You never listen. Why don't you ever listen? Kids are not supposed to be on the playground. " But as I looked again, it was just a pirate ship, a perfectly innocent-looking pirate ship that kids can climb, run and slide down on. There was sand, and swings, and a sad-looking empty playground.
My face felt hot, and I started crying. "Let's just go."
"Fine, I just wanted to play," Luke said, following me downcast. I wiped the tears from my face as he ran on ahead. How could I have yelled at him? Of course, he just wanted to play. What's more normal to a kid than a playground? He wasn't in school. Zoomhad become our alternate universe and his classmates and teacher froze on-screen regularly. We're not doing playdates. For weeks we played kickball across the street from Grandma, not allowing ourselves to go into their house, hands not touching between a heavy plastic door.
Luke’s birthday party was cancelled, and a car parade was held instead. He seemed happy, but I watched and waited for him to say this isn't fair. Information on the news changed every day. I felt responsible for this crazy world he existed in. I knew it was not my fault., and actually some things were not so bad.
Luke, I knew you heard me crying through the door that week. I called one of the COVID-19 hotlines. I felt like I was coming apart. My childhood friend was dying. Her family couldn’t visit her in the hospital. We couldn’t even say goodbye. The world was crazy, and I didn't know how to handle homeschooling or anything at all.
I just wanted you to be safe and for all of us to be okay. I wanted to make things normal for you in a temporarily abnormal world.
I'm so sorry. You deserved to play.