The whole world is sick
By Chad Ingram
It's been a wild and surreal week, as the scope and magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic becomes clearer and clearer to Canadians, instructions from governments for people to remain home become stricter, and social activity slows to nearly nil.
I've been trying to see it through the eyes of my daughter and figure out what must be going on in her mind.
As some readers will be aware, my wife and I have two daughters, the eldest of whom, Evangeline, is just less than a month shy of her third birthday. For a not-quite-three-year-old, Evangeline has a robust social life. Two days a week she attends Wee Care, or “school,” as we refer to it. She goes to music class, to dance class, to children’s programming at the library, and Early Years activities at JDH. She makes weekly trips to the grocery store with her mom, visits her grandparents in Lindsay and Richmond Hill regularly, and has play dates with friends and cousins. “Where are we going today?” is typically one of the first things out of her mouth in the morning.
More than a week ago now, all of that suddenly stopped. Evangeline doesn't go anywhere, and she's of course very aware of it. How do you explain to a toddler what's going on? How do you explain to a not-quite-three-year-old why she can't do all of the things she's accustomed to doing?
“Because the whole world is sick,” she tells me, something I'm going to guess she heard from her mother, and not Abigail, her not-quite-one-year-old sister. And while that's obviously not literally the case, it makes it easy for her to understand. And given what we're learning about the rate at which asymptomatic people can spread the virus, thinking of ourselves all as sick, and acting like it, is probably a pretty good idea.
The big outing of Evangeline's days now is a walk down our rural road to see the horses in a nearby field. She watches “the news man” – I've learned this is her name for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – talk to the country each day. We have more living room jam sessions and have stocked up on art and craft supplies.
While any toddler is obviously going to get stir-crazy in our current circumstances, at least toddlers are easily distractible. A little bit of candy can go a long way. Same with rationed Christmas gifts that are again brand new. And because they are incapable of fathoming the pandemic, toddlers are still able to be in the moment, and content to be there most of the time.
I find myself trying to adopt parts of Evangeline's mindset, as I long for a “normal” that now seems like a luxury.