The first two days of the school year were bittersweet, as they should be. After all, this is the first year both my children (four and six years old) would be in school, and the first time since we became parents that neither I nor my husband would be on childcare duty for the bulk of the workday. After both drop-offs, we were misty-eyed, talking about how big our kids are getting and throwing around phrases like ‘the end of an era’...and also, ‘game changer!’
Then came day three of the school year, when my six-year-old daughter woke up with a fever. We decided that both kids should stay home, just to be safe, and it was only a few hours later that testing revealed the bad news: My daughter, and only my daughter, was positive for Covid-19. Her classroom would shut down, our quarantine period began and, one by one, the rest of my family (yes, even the vaccinated adults) fell sick.
The experience was, as you might expect, very unpleasant. The worst part, however, was not the moderate flu-like illness we all endured, nor was it the burden of being under house arrest with two small (and eventually fully recovered) children, nor was it the expense of having everything delivered for a week and a half. (Ok, fine, the 10 days of Seamless was actually kind of great.) The worst part of having my kid get Covid was the unanticipated and intense run-in with shame.
See, as soon as it became apparent that no one in my family would become gravely ill from the virus, the social implications started to sink in. For starters, an entire first grade class had just shut down and gone remote after only two days of school—a crushing disappointment for kids and parents alike, plus a massive headache for the teacher and administrators. And it was our fault.