The requirement to wear a mask indoors will be restored next week, as Thursday marked the fourth day in a row that the country registered over 100 new daily cases and the new outbreaks spread to several more municipalities…-Rossella Tercatin, The Jerusalem Post
The centers of the new outbreak have been several schools… As of Thursday, 330 children and 30 teachers were positive to the virus, with a few thousand in isolation.-ibid.
I know, based upon what I have read, that this new variant of COVID-19 will not bring about nearly as much death and chaos as did earlier stages of this pandemic. In fact, a national emergency of such severity in Israel is especially unlikely because most of the adult population has been vaccinated.
Also, I know that relative to many other countries where things remain shut down, Israel is in a spectacularly good place when it comes to COVID-19. As I wrote earlier this week, my daughter was actually able to return to her favorite indoor playground at the mall this week, because the indoor mask mandate was finally done away with.
Maybe it’s precisely because of that recent shift towards increased openness that the threat of this new variant is causing me to feel as anxious as it does. I almost as excited as my six-year-old to return to our local Gymboree… and now? Well, nobody knows quite what to expect from this new virus strain. In theory (not likely, but still), this could erupt into a new countrywide wave of death.
But, really, that’s very melodramatic of me to even suggest; and I know it’s almost certainly not going to happen. So what’s really bothering me?
I know what it is.
Parenting during the pandemic
From the start, my wife and I felt very lucky that our child was only five-years-old when COVID-19 shut the world down. Families with older children had to adapt to classes being taught online (and not all families had enough computers for all their children), whereas our daughter’s missing preschool wasn’t especially impactful. Meanwhile, staying home during lengthy lockdown periods presented various other logistical and emotional challenges for parents and children… but our daughter was both young enough for us to entertain and educate her and just old enough to occupy herself.
I remember saying on more than one occasion that I hoped this would all boil over by the time our child entered elementary school… which is supposed to happen in several months time. And, now, the closer we get to Autumn, the more I feel my anxiety increasing… Will she have the opportunity to have a “normal” 1st grade experience?
I really didn’t mind her missing preschool during those lockdown periods… but missing elementary school? That would be altogether different in my view. Imagine starting the first year of school via Zoom, never having met your teachers or fellow students; and never even having entered your new elementary school.
An insight based upon my mother’s visit
After more than a year of being unable to visit us in Israel, my mother was finally able to come and stay with us for a month (she flew back to the USA just today).
It was wonderful to see my mother again; but the most powerful aspect of her visit was seeing her together with her granddaughter. The two of them had such a terrific time reading books, going to the playground, visiting the zoo and botanical gardens…
And I know this will sound obvious, especially to those of you who are parents, but it really hit me how much I prioritize our daughter’s needs and well-being over all else. Her happiness, health and development are everything to me.
Watching her cuddling with her loving babushka, hearing them joking and laughing together when they came in together from outside… I was simply awash in emotions.
I want our daughter to have a full childhood
Given that my wife’s mother lives in Russia, and my mother lives in the USA; and given also that our extended family is small, our daughter spends a lot of time with her two adoring parents. While this is wonderful for her in many ways, she also needs to develop other healthy relationships, particularly with children her age. And that, in large part, is why I feel that her beginning elementary school is so significant.
I feel somewhat silly for worrying about this new COVID-19 strain in Israel because it doesn’t seem likely to cause much damage, in terms of deaths and other effects… and I feel guilty at my relatively petty concern about having to wear masks again when the situation in so many other places throughout the world is incomparably worse than it is for us…
But I can’t help perceiving this reality first and foremost as a parent… and I so want our baby to have a healthy, happy and “normal” experience at her wonderful new elementary school next year… I’m just finding it very hard to stop worrying.