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Not so bad after all

I worry about a lot of things when it comes to the pandemic, but one of the more insidious concerns of late has been the welfare of my children.

You only get to be a child for a short period of your life, and now, with the coronavirus cancelling the Little League season, dance recitals, vacations, field trips, play dates, afternoons at the playground, traditional schooling, and so much more, I find myself worrying that these important, precious childhood days are being lost forever.

Last week Elysha and I took the kids to the park. We avoided the playground equipment, of course, and kept our distance from others. Instead, we walked around the pond and tossed rocks into the water. After making a complete circuit of the trails, the kids asked if they could run in the field.

“Of course,” I said, and they were off, running and jumping and giggling for far longer than I would’ve expected. Eventually they plopped themselves down into the grass about 50 feet away and began pointing at the sky and laughing uncontrollably.

It took me a moment to realize what they were doing:

Finding shapes in the clouds. Hilariously so. At one point, I heard Charlie say, “That one looks like it’s pooping out an asteroid!”

After about 20 minutes of cloud watching, I called to them, telling them it was time to go.

They protested. “Please… just a little while longer!”

We acquiesced, of course, then watched as they continued to point and giggle and roll around on the grass.

Finally, we were able to pry them away from the field and clouds and made our way back tot he car.

As we climbed inside, Clara said, “This was the best day of the whole year!”

Charlie chimed in with agreement.

Clara didn’t say, “This was the best day since we started social distancing.”

She didn’t say, “This was the best day since the coronavirus arrived.”

She didn’t say, “This was the best day in the past month.”

She said, “This was the best day of the whole year.”

“The whole year?” I asked. “January first through today?”

“Yup,” she said. “I loved today.”

Just like that, my concerns over lost childhood days were gone. An enormous weight was lifted from my shoulders.

My kids are young. They still love running in fields and staring at clouds. Nothing makes them happier than wrestling with their father and snuggling with their mother. They could throw stones in water all day long. They still love drawing and playing with toys and eating mango and listening to Hamilton.

My kids are fine. Happy, even., Yes, they’d love to be able to play with the neighbors, and yes, they miss their teachers and classmates, and yes, it would be nice if we were departing for Niagara Falls today as originally planned, but it turns out that they don’t need any of those things to be happy.

I had to agree with Clara. It might’ve been the best day of the whole year.