A commentary piece from an anonymous parent
The COVID-19 pandemic presents different challenges for families. Despite being told that children appear to experience milder symptoms from COVID-19 infection compared to older individuals, as parents, we still worry about our children. They are unable to attend school, family gatherings and their social network is disrupted during this period. While they appear to be physically safe, I am worried about my child's mental health; isolation can bring boredom and stress.
I consistently ask myself these questions:
- What are the effects of physical distancing and disrupted routines for my children?
- How can I help my children adjust and develop healthy coping habits?
- How can I talk about the virus with my children?
- How do I keep them safe but at the same time experience what life has to offer?
The more I read and do my research on the impacts of COVID-19, I can't help but think that my child will never be truly safe.
My worries became a reality
A few weeks back, I got a call from the school that my child has been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, and that I was asked to immediately come get him.
I dropped everything and went to pick him up. The idea that he was in an environment where he could be infected made my heart sink. All my worries were starting to become reality, and I started having all these questions in my head.
What did I do wrong?
Was it the wrong decision to send him to school?
Did I not remind him to be extra careful of whom he spends time with?
I can't even begin to describe my feelings. I was frustrated with myself, worried, lost about what to do next, and I was angry with my son.
Just as I was reaching the school, I came to the realisation that I had two choices on how I could react to this. I could be angry at my son for being irresponsible or I could take the necessary steps to ensure our family was safe.
And then it hit me–I am prepared for this. As parents, we have natural instincts to protect our children. I know what to do, and I am in control of what's to come next.
Making smart decisions
I composed myself just as I arrived at the school to get my son. I knew that he did not need to get a swab test immediately. I knew the risk of my child becoming infected with COVID-19 from a close contact was low. Even if he does become infected, most children don't get any symptoms. If they do, they usually have mild illness.
When we got home, I made sure he took a shower, and I started to monitor for any COVID-19 symptoms from thereon.
I knew that the right thing to do was to restrict his movements for at least 14 days, avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. All of us at home did the same thing because we didn't want him to go through it alone. It can be mentally taxing for a child to be experiencing isolation without the support of loved ones. As a parent, I can only hope for the best and stick by his side through this unfamiliar feeling.
What I've learned
My experience may be different from others, and I can only speak of my own. Knowing that my child was possibly in danger to contract COVID-19 made me reevaluate my choices and actions.
We have an abundance of materials and guides on what to do when our family members are in close contact with a positive COVID-19 individual. Information is out there, and it is our responsibility as parents, family members, friends and society individuals to be informed and updated.
The truth is, we can never be truly safe from this virus. However, we need to learn to live with it. There's no point in hiding or scaring ourselves with hypotheticals. We can stay safe, do the right things for our family and ourselves by practising healthy habits and so much more–yet, the virus is still out there.
If you haven't been in my shoes before this, perhaps this article will remind you that COVID-19 is indeed real and affecting millions of lives out there.
Do your part, be smart and be safe.
A parent of a child who almost got COVID-19