The quais are packed full of humanity. Kids jostle to fill up squirt guns at the fountain in the playground. Chatters sit at the chess tables and on the edge of the canal with cans of 1664. If it wasn’t for the ubiquitous masks, you could be forgiven for asking “what lockdown?”
We’re only a few days away from the start of the deconfinement. May 8th being Armistice Day here – and a warm spring day – it might as well have been the kick off. There were no police to be found, a stark contrast to the platoons that patrolled the canal over the past few months.
May 11th is almost here. I’m starting to get messages from businesses that they will soon be open. My tattoo guy posted the new protocol for their salon on Instagram. Storefronts are changing and being shined up. Workers are installing plexiglass everywhere. We bought a 50 pack of disposable face masks. Hand sanitizer is on sale anywhere there is a cash register.
The nursery below our new place is going to reopen on Monday. One of the caretakers was wiping down the plastic cars that have sat idle on their patio. I wonder how it will go with little ones crawling all over each other. Our nursery is reopening too but will prioritize children of parents who cannot work from home or who are in a situation of social difficulty. It’s safe to say that we will be among the last to get the call. Then we will have to decide if we want to put him there for the remaining weeks before the summertime.
It doesn’t really make sense for us anyways. We’re working out a deal with our babysitter to take care of the kids full time here until further notice. The old nursery is also next to our old place and so there is a logistical aspect to take into account – one that most likely involves a bus and therefore probably too much exposure for our liking.
Our eldest is slated for a return to school on the 25th of May. Again we will have to make a decision. It’s easier to get him to his school since he can ride on the back of our bike. Will it make sense? Will that mysterious children’s heart disease cause schools to close back down? Will we feel comfortable taking a risk when he will be perfectly fine here with the babysitter? At four years old he is missing out on the education and social aspects including things like learning to control his emotions and the physical activity of playing with kids his age. Losing four months of education could have lasting effects.
Those effects are nothing compared to having him get sick though. Most indications point to children passing relatively unscathed during the pandemic. So the only thing to do is to follow closely, see how it works or doesn’t with the first few waves of students, and make a decision when the time comes. If signs are positive – the Rt is below 1, there is not an uptick in child covid-19 cases, none of the teachers at our school get the disease – then we will consider it.
It will certainly be the biggest decision for us since the start of the coronavirus. Up until this point we were driven by forces beyond our control. We managed to move, yes, but we really had no agency in the decision, the former situation was no longer sustainable. We followed governmental instructions. Our companies extended working from home until June at least. We are doing nothing more than keeping our ship on course down a river for which there is no map.
This fact of reality has firmly shifted our mindset. Buddha would be proud: we live only in the present. We can’t plan so the future is what it will be. We are not responsible for our recent actions in the past so there is no need to regret. Even the yearning for old times is fading with each passing day into a vague cloud of nostalgia. The past is what it was.
One day at a time. If you need me, I’ll be grilling.