The Summer of COVID: 5 Questions To Ask To Protect Our Kids

Each second we live in a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that never was before and will never be again.

Pau Casals, by way of Brainpickings

Listen 7:44

Having kids is the best reminder of this. When they’re little, so much for them is new and exciting and marvelous. Just a simple ladybug on a leaf is cause for wide eyes and glee and shouts of “Mommy, COME!” The little humans want to share in their excitement, and who better than with someone they love.

The most lovely thing is that you find yourself actually getting excited to see something as mundane as a ladybug on a leaf — because you know how incredible it is to your littles. And something incredible to the littles is something incredible to the parents and everyone else who loves those littles. It truly is a marvelous thing. Kids are a lot of work, yes, but, man, do they make the mundane marvelous.

Pau Casals was a child once and later became a famous cellist who had the opportunity to play in the White House for John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy and guests in 1961. A marvel to behold — for both Casals and the Kennedys. And not a mundane marvel. There is something transporting about good music, and to say that Casals produced good music would be an understatement. The President was so taken with Casals and his music that two years later, he awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an award not often given to foreigners. But days before the ceremony, Kennedy was assassinated.

Casals was devastated. As was much of the world.

I think sometimes when you find a good friend, a kindred spirit, you are transported to the childhood wonder of the ladybug on the leaf. Interestingly, after Kennedy’s assassination, Casals felt compelled to write about . . . children:

Each second we live in a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that never was before and will never be again. And what do we teach our children in school? We teach them that two and two makes four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all of the world there is no other child exactly like you. In the millions of years that have passed there has never been another child like you. And look at your body — what a wonder it is! Your legs, your arms, your cunning fingers, the way you move! You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must cherish one another. You must work — we all must work — to make this world worthy of its children.

Joy and Sorrows

Two and two makes four, and I want my kids to know that. But I need to remind myself that learning is so much more than that. I want my kids to learn about who they are — that they are a marvel, that they are unique, that there is no child in the world like them. I want my kids to learn to cherish one another (a lesson they force upon themselves every day as they seem to always default to fighting with each other). I want them to grow up doing everything in their power not to harm one another.

So what message are we communicating to our most cherished children when we are in a pandemic, there are no vaccines for the young kids, and yet everything seems to be life as normal? My kids got COVID from going to church, a place where you wouldn’t even know there was a pandemic still happening — no masks, crowds of kids, and, come to find out afterward, unvaccinated adult leaders. But in the States, this seems to be pretty normal. Kids church and sleepaway summer camp and indoor trampoline parks and indoor birthday parties (because it’s too hot outside, of course) and various other crowded events.

The message I most often see these days is that if kids get COVID, they will either be asymptomatic or their symptoms will be super mild.

My kids’ symptoms were not mild: they experienced fevers, lethargy, body aches, coughs, general discomfort, and trouble sleeping at night. My nine-year-old spiked to 104.9o F a couple of times. It was scary, and I wouldn’t wish it on any kid. Two full days of sickness and then the lingering cough that persists as I write this (over two weeks later) — no, this was not “mild.” And my kids (ages 9, 6 this Sunday, and 2) are healthy and active.

What audacity we adults have to live life as normal during these very much not normal times. Just because we can get vaccinated, we think “Oh, the kids will be fine.” And for the adults who haven’t gotten COVID, choose not to get vaccinated, then work closely with kids without wearing a mask, and then give kids COVID, I say this: you are negligent and reckless.

So how can we live a full life and attend events in a world where kids aren’t vaccinated? My advice is to be keenly observant and ask questions:

  1. The of-vaccinated-age humans who will be working with the kids: are they required to be vaccinated? Will they be required to wear masks?
  2. How much of the event will be indoors? Will we know the vaccinated status of the people who will be in attendance?
  3. Will the guests be asked and advised to remain home if they have symptoms, even if they think it’s just a cold?
  4. If someone from the event does contract COVID, how will I be notified?
  5. What, if any, extra precautions will be taken for the kids to prevent their contracting COVID?

And don’t forget to be observant. I wish I had been that fateful day at church. If anything feels off to you, just leave. Remember: the world is still experiencing a pandemic. You are absolutely justified to work in the best interests of your kids. And the preceding questions are reasonable. If you are met with hostility when asking any of these, just remind yourself: You love your kids — period.

Let’s treat our children with respect. They are marvels. They are unique. They are to be cherished.

And to my sesame seed baby: I love you already. You are a fighter, sticking around through my having COVID. I am hoping that you’ll stick around all the way until March. Sesame seeds may be mundane, but you are anything but.

Let’s work to make this world worthwhile for our children. That may start with protecting them from COVID.