If I’d have been asked to grade my family’s pandemic era responsibility on March 28th, I’d have given us a solid 80%. Above average with plenty of room for improvement. If you’d have asked me to assess on March 29th, that number would’ve tanked to 10%. Maybe lower. Probably zero, TBH.
Here’s my COVID confession. On March 29th, our family boarded a plane, even though only one of us had been vaccinated. And even he wasn’t fully vaccinated. Despite everything (our better judgement, the advice of professionals, the wishes of our school district, and lord even knows what else) we flew to, of all places, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and spent a week at a beachfront hotel with four other families.
Typing those words, I feel certain I must be talking about some other family. We are not those people. Well, apparently we are those people. But not heeding the advice of experts? Flying when told we shouldn’t? Flying to Florida???!!! Group travel? None of those things are historically our jam.
What can I tell you about why we made this decision? Admittedly nothing that would make it ok.
We were all desperately in need of a change of scenery (who isn’t?). And it surely felt like everyone else was doing it (what better reason than that??!!). But our main reason was our high school senior son; who has had no homecoming, no Sadie’s dance, no sweethearts dance, no Friday night football games, no in person classes with anyone who’s last name doesn’t end in A-L. And, while the kid ain’t perfect, he has rolled with the punches and tempered his disappointments with the knowledge that there’s more to life than high school traditions and an empathetic conscience that the risks were simply not worth it.
But, he wanted one normal senior year thing. A trip with his buddies before they all graduate and go their separate ways. And we wanted it for him. And it clouded our judgement.
Two days after we returned home, he tested positive for COVID. He’s been banished to the second level of our house since and had a couple of days of feeling plenty good and lousy. He’s seemingly over the hump now, even saying he felt great today. The rest of us tested negative.
The good news: we had made the decision to not send our kids to school upon returning home.
The bad news: Jerod is in what I lovingly refer to as COVID jail until the 16th. The rest of us until the 20th. Lost wages, lost sanity, lost opportunities to be in the same room with our kid who will be moving away in four months, lost days of being able to book vaccinations.
To anyone I’ve talked to about this, I’ve said: we deserve this. The positive result, the house arrest, the inevitable stir-craziness. We deserve it all and so much more. We were on the home stretch and took our eyes off the prize.
When I posted this saga on a local moms group facebook page in hopes of encouraging anyone else who traveled to get tested, the response was generous. Thank you for saying this, thank you for heeding the request of the school district to keep kids home for two weeks after break, thank you for being honest. That was all lovely, but unnecessary.
How many hard things have we dealt with in the past 13 months? Who can even count. There are choices that are hard. Whether or not to cave and let your kid have spring break with his friends– for me that was a hard choice. Maybe it wouldn’t have been for you. If that’s the case, I applaud your fortitude. For me, it was a hard choice, with no good answer.
It’s important to note, though, that many things about this have absolutely not been hard. The decision to test upon returning home? Not hard. The decision to keep our kids home before we even had test results? Absolutely not hard. The decision for me to tell this truthful cautionary tale on a facebook page and encourage travelers to test? Not hard. Yes, I feel shame. I felt it when I booked the tickets, I felt it when I packed my suitcase, I feel it writing these words.
Here’s what I do not need from anyone: sympathetic or understanding words or praise for my honesty. That’s easy when you’re incapable of BS. Here’s what I do need: I don’t know. Vaccinations, I guess. For everyone. Readily available and required for everyone. We’re slated to leave COVID jail on the 20th and I desperately hope to have appointments waiting for us. When you can get yours, please do.