Like most of us parenting during the pandemic, I walk around angry most of the time. That, and coming up with neat alliterations such as pandemic parenting. But mostly, it’s the anger thing.
Parents are put into a difficult position this year and it’s one that could have been avoided. Do I send my kids back to school or not? What happens when a teacher gets sick? What about a child?
Those are the questions that all of us are asking. The simple truth is that there is no right answer. As a nation, as a people, we have completely and totally failed.
Let’s state a simple truth, no matter how hard it is to hear.
When schools open in the next few weeks: Kids are going to die. School administrators and teachers are going to die.
Those are facts that cannot be disputed. You can try to put whatever narrative you want around those facts, and yet, they will remain. Kids and teachers are going to die.
And that’s the choice as a nation that we seem to be OK with. This is where we have failed.
I’m angry that as a parent that those are my options, and I’m even angrier that a large portion of my fellow Americans are fine with that choice. This could have been avoided if we simply all worked together. My friend Andrew Knott wrote a piece recently called No, We Are Not In This Together. It couldn’t have been truer. While some take the pandemic seriously, others seem cavalier about it. They pretend it doesn’t exist or they are fine with children dying. Imagine being that obtuse about our current situation.
I’m not blind in that I know the toll that schools remaining closed will have. Parents need to get back to work and many don’t have the luxury of staying home to make sure kids learn. I know that schools are the first line of defense in child abuse and child hunger. Imagine that, your teacher is a damn superhero and we seem all too willing to sacrifice them so some people can go get a damn haircut. This is disgusting.
It’s a national failure, let’s not beat around the bush. The collective “plan” for reopening is to ask underfunded schools to provide PPE for their teachers and staff. Mind you, this is the same country that can’t even do that for hospitals and at one point, the Federal Government was jacking PPE equipment made for the states. It’s mafia rule, and it’s propped up by conspiracy theories so bazaar that normally we would ask if a person has a mental illness. That is where we are as a country; we govern by conspiracy theories.
“The virus is a hoax,” you’ve heard. From my own Governor who said: “And if they do get COVID-19, which they will—and they will when they go to school—they’re not going to the hospitals. They’re going to go home and they’re going to get over it.” This is what the American people have been reduced to. Conspiracy theories that are bordering on criminal negligence.
Yes, kids will get the virus. Yes, some kids will die. Yes, some kids will pass it on to grandparents or parents and they will die, too.
And this is why I’m angry during the pandemic. My kids should be enjoying their first year of high school and middle school. My youngest should be heading back to his third-grade classroom to socialize with his friends. They’re not. I’m lucky enough that I can do an online option. That’s the sacrifice that my family is making so that some conspiracy nut job can get a Big Gulp without wearing a mask.
Let’s be clear: There is no comprehensive plan for opening up our schools. It boils down to “Good luck, we hope not enough people die that you notice.”
That’s it. That’s the plan.
I’m angry that instead of meeting this challenge as a nation, I’m trying to decide which families I can safely pod with during the pandemic. Which families are taking their safety seriously so that our children may get together in their homes and learn. Socialization is important in the early teenage years and I’m worried about teen suicide rates and mental health. I have to decide which freelance jobs I need to give up so that I can be there for my kids. And the jobs that I do, I need to work into the night away from my wife so that the time we spend as a family is less and less.
I am lucky, though. I know that I have the flexibility that many don’t, and that makes me even madder. Families have to risk the health and safety of their loved ones or be evicted and starve. Or to say more accurately, many will still be evicted. As a country, we’ve handled this so poorly that is going to happen as well. But hey, at least they can still go to school and get sick once they get kicked out of their houses. I’m sure the medical community will understand why they can’t pay their ventilator bills because they need to eat.
Yes, in this country we have freedom of speech. It’s one of the bedrocks of our nation. But we also have the freedom to not listen and walk away. Going forward, that’s the best solution. Let the conspiracy nuts continue to spew their hatred and insanity but stop giving them the platform so many crave.
Stop putting them on the news as a “valid viewpoint.” It’s not.
It’s the rambling of a damaged person and if they deserve anything, it’s our pity. Do not interact with them on social media. Ignore them in public. Let them scream about flu season, and a virus that they are sure is somehow political. And walk away from them. Don’t serve them in restaurants without a mask. Don’t debate with them.
Let them continue on with their lives while the grownups in the room figure out our next steps.