The phone beeped, buzzed, and rang all within a few minutes. These interruptions snatched me from a dream I had been caught in, promising to keep me engaged in another intriguing world until the sun was shining bright enough to end it. It was the Friday after parent teacher conferences, the middle of March, and two weeks before spring break. There was two and a half months left of school. It was the last year of our son’s elementary years. Spring was just around the corner. But all of these things were in the shadows . What marked that moment was a heavy, pressing question: What does all this mean? It lead to an endless series of questions.
The immediate answer for me was a cup of tea. One sip of hot chamomile was calming and soothing. But then, questions blew in like a gust of wind and caused me to shiver.
“What was that sound? What happened? What’s going on? ” Goldi, asked with the bright eyes she always wears when she is excited or extremely curious.
I took one more sip to wet my still dry and tired pallet to help make my answer sound clear and confident:
“School is closed because of the coronavirus.”
Holding my mug of tea and still wearing my pj’s, I had hoped those words seemed more like words of everyday news like there is slight chance of rain today or dad forget his lunch. No big deal. But my answer invited more questions from the wide open floodgates.
“Are we going to get the virus? How long will school be closed? Why does school have to be closed? Will I still have to hand in my homework? What are we going to do today?” Both Goldi and her brother didn’t seem to be breathing . It was simply hopeless to attempt to “step over their words” with attempts to silence and satisfy.
Soon, the subject was left hanging. We carried on with the usual things as though nothing had happened. Goldi dressed in her outfit she had planned to wear that day to school, combed her hair, brushed her teeth, and began talking in various accents in her room as she played with different dolls and figurines. Her brother got lost in checking scores and stats for the upcoming NBA championship. ( thinking all games would still take place) I found a pencil and a piece of notebook paper. I wiggled the pencil back and forth thinking and scratching out a plan.
By the end of the first week, we had established a routine and it was set it stone enough for the kids to begin to argue it:
“Why do we have to do math at 9:30 am? Can’t we just skip reading today? Could we watch a movie while we eat lunch and have a longer recess? ”
After three months, the questions were few and far between and nearly back to the normal inquiries kids ask ” What’s for dinner? Who touched my tablet? Can you please tell her/him to stop bothering me! Can we get Disney Plus? Can you help me find some socks?”
Under lockdown, our routine was in automatic mode. It was almost like we turned into robots going through the motions of our day without any emotion and on never ending repeat cycle. It was hard. It was tiring. It was sometimes complete drudgery.
Then, summer came and we grew pleasantly lazy and care free. The green grass, the blue sky, the warmth of the sun, all color our days with an easy breezy feeling. Despite the looming danger of the virus hovering over life, the questions have turned to wonders:
“What makes the sky so blue? Why does the hummingbird flap its wings so fast? What makes the firefly light up? How many shapes can a white fluffy cloud make? How do you tell if the watermelon is ripe? I wonder how fast I can run from the mailbox to the end of the street and back? Is there a dandelion I can pick and make a wish on? “
Wonderings on summer lazy days are a perfect respite from the agonizing questions with only unknown as the answer: How long will we have to wear a mask? How long until the virus is over? Will I get the virus? “
We still live in summer and are still living in this wonderful dreamy respite. There are moments that feel so normal and we forget that a virus indeed did hit and that there is still so much unknown. How pleasant it is to put that in the shadows and just live and be. But then there are moments when through one word from someone, a story, or a bit of news, buzzes in our ear like a mosquito.
“When IS this virus going to be over anyway? Are we going back to school? Will they have choir and cross country? Will I have to wear a mask all day? “
These questions are asked before spooning a bite of cereal into their mouths or right before they fly out the door. There is less panic in their tone and maybe a little bit of patience. Even when the answer is “I don’t know ” Miraculously , Goldi will shrug her shoulders and say “Oh.” Both Goldi and her brother have endured this. They have no clue as to how much longer we will worry about the virus. There is no vaccine, no cure, no promising medications, and no true rock solid facts. But Goldi flies around on her scooter, practices various accents, imagines, creates, and lays in her hammock looking up into the sky in perfect stillness. Her brother flies around on his rip stick, flips on the trampoline, pesters his sister, and slows down a little to wipe the sweat off his forehead. They have shown that even though the unknown is a constant, they aim to be a kid.
As the summer waves goodbye, and school speaks of reopening, I have asked questions to them as I worry through the laundry list of questions of my own:
“Do you feel okay? Do you want to go back to school? How do you feel about going back to school? How would you feel about school at home?
“I feel fine! I want to go back to school!” shouts Goldi’s brother.
“I think I should try to go back. ” says Goldi looking off into the distance as if she had a peek into what “going back” would look like.
They are determined to experience even the slightest trace of what was, holding on to those “good old days” with all their might. They dream about it and wish for their return.
We still have questions that float around in our heads. But they don’t blurt out as rapidly as before. After they are verbalized, even if the answers are not what they would like, we all respond with a sigh, and move forward with even a small thing like licking a popsicle, twisting a rubrics cube, or just walking around breathing in the summer air. As we all do these things, a dream of “someday soon” stirs up inside us. There is a peace and a comfort because Someone else has all the answers. Someone has wisdom beyond us. Someone is able to quiet our worries, our cares, and our endless questions with His love.
His understanding is unsearchable. Isaih 40:28
He will quiet you by his love. Zephaniah 3:17