When I saw the headline yesterday that said, “Newsom orders all California counties to close indoor restaurants, bars,” the Covid pit in my gut I’ve tried like hell to keep at bay hardened.
I was at the gym listening to upbeat music as my feet twirled ever faster on the elliptical when I glanced up at the bank of televisions overhead to read the sad news. “Cases have climbed dramatically since then, and the number of people hospitalized and in intensive care with COVID-19 has increased steadily. As of Monday, more than 334,000 confirmed cases statewide. The state has been reporting, on average, more than 8,000 new cases a day over the past week.”
Shit. I thought trying to go to that happy place exercise usually takes me. But even though I chose the most positive songs from my playlist and willed my legs to circle strongly, I couldn’t stop the stressful thoughts from coming.
I’m going to be so lonely. Again. Just when I was able to get out and see friends, enjoy my community, try a few dates it’s all shutting down. I’ll be trapped at home. Don’t even have a boyfriend to hold at night.
And it went on and on.
I kept working out. One hour. An hour and a half. When I started to get weak around the two hour mark, I showered and headed for home. Here I was met with my sweet girls: my daughter and my roommate. They were chatting and giggling over a glass of wine and I joined them. We told jokes, silly stories, debated politics, and shared insights and I felt better.
Later, I was doing my nightly meditation of “I am” affirmations when one phrase struck me. “I am a wonderful friend. I am here for others.” And I realized that even in lockdown, that I am able to live my best self. I can continue to be part of and give to the human community .
Dear ones, if you need me I am here… Together we can endure.
What is it like for a fifth-grader to live under the shadow of Covid 19? How does an eleven year old in California experience shelter-in-place? Children are currently living through a time period that will be looked back upon and analyzed as historically significant. Thus, asking them them to share their stories in a slide show will help capture this unprecedented time. Here are the condensed versions from two of my students, Eliseo and Natalie.
***This assignment was inspired by Lauren Brown Created by Jessica Vannasdall***
About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry, Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward co-wrote Dean and JoJo: The Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet, and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net
“We are in a lockdown,” the intercom blared throughout our school.
This was not a drill. The police had surrounded a house in the neighborhood and were in some sort of stand-off. Exchanging glances with the other teachers in the lounge, my first reaction was to run toward my students who were out on the playground for recess. But the doors were already being locked and the lights doused. With Parkland, Florida fresh in my mind, my heart pounded and a lump rose in my throat.
Were my babies okay?
One teacher pulled out her phone and put it on speaker as we listened in on the radio chatter of dispatch calling numbers I didn’t know the meaning of on the police channel. Whatever was happening was two blocks away.
That was a relief.
It was Dr. Seuss’s birthday and many of the kids had worn their P. J’s and carried stuffed animals with them in anticipation of the readers and the Cat in the Hat that were scheduled to visit our class. We were still waiting for our turn when we went into lockdown. So instead of hearing the dreams of Oh The Places You’ll Go our students huddled under desks listening to teachers trying to calm their fears.
The stand-off ended with non-lethal gunfire exchanged and the perpetrator’s arrest. We continued on with our day as normally as we could. I returned to class, heaving a sigh of relief when I reunited with all of my students. Then I fielded questions from the white-faced fifth-graders.
“Yes, it was real, but far away. It was just a precaution. The police always call for a lockdown if they are trying to catch somebody within a mile of a school. Don’t worry. You were safe inside. We are here to protect you.”
While I spoke, images of Parkland, Sandy Hook, Marshall County, Columbine, Red Lake, and Virginia Tech flashed through my mind. These kids were safe but our school’s name could just as easily been added to the list.
Welcome to an American elementary school.