First, let’s start off by saying you’re a great kid. Really phenomenal. This year has been nothing short of a dumpster fire but you’ve been a delight for most parts. This could partly be because the pandemic has sucked just about every ounce of joy and care from our souls and we threw screen time rules right out of the window making you a happy camper. We’re in survival mode people! I can’t listen to whiny children on top of deafening news about a global pandemic, racial injustice, raging wildfires and a corrupt government. You want to play Animal Crossing? Great, do it! You want to draw in Procreate? Wow me! You received an urgent money transfer request from an unknown person but they’re in dire need and you want to act fast? Nope, that’s a scam.
Without looking at pictures, I really have no idea what transpired before March of this year. They really are two different time periods. Much like we have a B.C. and A.D., we should have a B.P. (before pandemic) and A.P. (after pandemic) to signify these highly contrasted periods of time.
I haven’t documented much of our time during the pandemic mostly because it’s exhausting just living in it. The last thing I want to do at the end of a long day is sit down and write about it too. You’re old enough to create your own memories and observations from this time that you don’t need me to tell you how it is. Although, I imagine my memories would be very different from yours. On one hand, the introvert in me was ecstatic because I was forced to stay indoors and not socialize. On the other hand, I’m stuck indoors all the time with children who have energy to burn and no means of which to do it.
You’re a lot like me in the sense we both value our alone time. We restore our energy by having time to ourselves. I don’t need constant social interactions to feel alive and fulfilled. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. I’m exhausted and mentally drained every time I think about socializing. It’s not that I don’t love being with my friends, it’s just socializing takes a level of energy that I don’t always have at the ready. You embraced distance learning because it removed the social dynamics of being in school. Instead of worrying about who you’re going to play with during lunch, the thinking has now turned to which Tasty video you will watch while you eat.
This was the first summer in six years that you did not swim with a swim team. I forgot what sleeping in on a Saturday morning felt like and now I’m not sure I could go back to waking up at 6am and sitting at a pool for five hours to only watch you for a collective time period of 3:42. Swimming wasn’t altogether cancelled though due to your swim coach being determined to get as many of you back in the water. He developed a swim camp in which you have been swimming in a “pod” since June. A pod is a group of twelve swimmers and the group only slightly changes once a month to accommodate new swimmers or swimmers taking a break. You share a lane with one other swimmer and you’re never together on the same side of the pool. I was certainly nervous to put you back into sports when we were still so early in the lockdown but I also recognized you needed something extra. Despite you enjoying your time at home, I could also see the affects of you not seeing your friends and peers in the physical world. Allowing you to have a physical outlet was the best thing I could do for you. Granted, I only did this because I trust your swim coach and I know he has all of your safety at heart when he has you at the pool. Also, you are so exhausted after swimming, you hardly argue with me and that’s the best gift of all.
I’m angry at the time the pandemic has stolen from us. I have always been a parent who wanted to share all the experiences with you. This is probably where the Summer of Awesome was born from. I have always felt my time with you has been fleeting. I’ve always been anxious and uncomfortable with how fast time has been flying. Now, I could beg and plead to the heavens to keep you with me here at the house forever but I know that wouldn’t be fair to you and it would just be strange and sad to have you as a thirty year old woman living in your childhood bedroom complete with Billie Eilish posters and squishies strewn about the floor. So, I sit here with my anxiety, recognizing that you will be eighteen in six very short years. I sit here with grand ideas of what I want to experience with you and I realize I need a much larger bank account and a great deal of motivation to make it all happen. Oh, and the pandemic needs to cease to exist.
I have internal conflicts on this topic because yes, we don’t get to travel and have these experiences in a traditional way but we’ve spent a lot of time together in close proximity and that has introduced experiences we may not have had together otherwise. For example, you’ve developed a profound interest in baking and you’ve become very confident and independent in the kitchen. You watch cooking competition shows and look up recipes and make grocery lists for me for things that you want for your next baking adventures. I’m not angry at the steady stream of freshly baked goods on my kitchen counter.
You’ve developed a love and curiosity for digital art. You’re taking online classes that teach you Photoshop and Illustrator and you’re bonding with Dad in a way that you haven’t before. You’ve discovered Pinterest and are looking up design tips, tools and shortcuts to apply to your digital art projects. These are things you may never have discovered if it wasn’t for this vast open period of time.
You forced us all to spend every night this summer watching every single episode of Everwood and while I’ll never unsee that and never get that time back, we were together and I’m grateful for that. Not to mention, I got some of those awkward conversations out of the way due to the mature subject matters. Hello, abortion.
This year will go down in history for many reasons and I’m careful to hold the memories close that came to be due to our interesting predicament. While there have been plenty of scary and unsettling moments, there have been many times of joy and gratitude.
You have grown up so much this year and I’m so proud with how well you adapted to so many changes. From Zoom piano lessons to transitioning to middle school to trying new sports–you’ve really embraced new experiences. It’s easy to run away and hide from the unknown but you leaned into it despite the discomfort and for that, I’m in awe.
We will do our best to make this Covid birthday as memorable and special as you are.
Love you to a black hole and back.
2019 / 2020 B.P.