Dear Daughter, What You’ll Remember from COVID-19

My dear daughter, this has been an unusual time. I’ve tried to keep things as ‘normal’ for you as possible, but I’ve got to be honest: things are not normal. I feel fortunate that you just turned 5 years old, and being able to play daily is what ranks as a great day to you. I do hope there are some key things you will remember when this is all over (if it is ever really ‘over’?).

The school shutdown coincided with your 5th birthday. We had to pivot quickly, to cancel your much anticipated party, and make this day special for you. Your birthday was days from the beginning of shutdown, so we hadn’t thought of ‘drive-by parties’, but you’ll remember how special you felt when you received multiple presents dropped off at our door ‘in secret’, and dozens of messenger calls from friends and family thinking of you. I hope you’ll remember that Nanna was here, and we got to celebrate your birthday together as a family, with all the focus on you.

I hope you don’t remember we had to cancel going to Disneyland with your friend.

You will hopefully remember hours and hours of my undivided attention. Wandering seemingly aimlessly, finding treasures or ‘hunting’ for unicorns. You might remember we came really close to finding a unicorn, too. We found their village and followed their ‘droppings’ for quite some time, but never quite saw one.

I hope you remember how happy you were. You rested, you played, you weren’t rushed to move from one activity to the next. We lingered, we examined, and left room to be curious. Giving that room to breathe made everything easier. We didn’t argue or fight. There were fewer tears. I can honestly say, you’ve never been happier.

You might remember that you missed your friends, but only a couple of them will stand out. I don’t think you missed school, honestly, but the child interaction is what you crave. You might remember how awesome it has been not to be dragged to school early in the morning and picked up later that night, spending hours and hours outside the home.

I hope you don’t remember how truly painful the bi-weekly Zoom meetings with your kindergarten class were. Despite your teacher’s best efforts, those are a memory I hope we both forget.

Most of all, I hope you remember you were happy and loved. While the world crumbled around us, we were together and enjoying the little things in life. Nothing else mattered as long as we had our home and each other, and I like to think you will remember that most of all. That this wasn’t a stressful time, it was an ‘us’ time, and those moments in time are so rare.

I hope you don’t remember this big bad bug.

Grand Bend, Ontario during COVID

Things have changed in the world…have you noticed? Covid has pretty much turned everything upside down, and I feel like I am adjusting daily. While trying to keep our family safe, we also strive to keep a sense of ‘normal’, and a good dose of ‘fun’. Without the ability to go to school or see her friends, it’s been tough to keep things positive around here.

Most recently, my husband has been busy building a deck at our house, which has meant he has been busy doing back-breaking labour, but family time was at an all-time low. So one weekend, when Chris had an extra Monday off, we decided to go for a drive to one of the best local beaches we know in Ontario: Grand Bend.

Beaches everywhere across Ontario only opened a week or 2 ago. They were shut down to visitors to avoid COVID transmission. As many regions across Ontario were permitted to open up to Phase 2, that meant beaches were a go! We cautiously ventured out to the beach on a Monday that would typically not be as busy as they would be on a weekend.

Perhaps the beach looks busy, but we found it’s really just the angle of the photo that is deceiving

Let me tell you, there’s not much I love more than a good beach. I’m not a person who enjoys tanning, per-say, but I love the heat (under the safety of a beach umbrella!), and I love the water. It’s soothing to me, and I find, in the summer especially, I crave it. Grand Bend, on Lake Erie, is one of the most beautiful beaches around. I hadn’t been there in years. So going to this beach in the middle of a world pandemic with our 5 year old child was a special, first time experience, I guess!

So when we got there, parking was easy. It was evident it was a less busy day than usual, but tourism was still booming in this popular Ontario beach town. Chris and I agreed, getting out of the car in Grand Bend was like stepping back in time, like COVID wasn’t a thing. Almost. Some people were wearing masks, but everyone was spread out enough that social distancing wasn’t a big concern. All of the stores and restaurants had directional markers, and plexi-glass covering all of the tills. The stores didn’t seem to be requiring masks, so we generally stayed away, but we did our part to stimulate the local economy by buying lunch at a local restaurant (which had a great take-out menu as well as booze to-go, which we didn’t take advantage of this time!). Once we hit the beach, it was a beautiful oasis that allowed us to just be a family and not worry about that crazy bug.

Despite some of the pictures and reports coming from the first open weekend of Grand Bend (I’ve heard they have since closed down part of the beach areas because of overcrowding https://www.narcity.com/news/ca/on/toronto/grand-bend-beach-was-slammed-with-people-this-canada-day-photos), we felt quite safe there on a quiet Monday, and people respected their distance. From those picture angles, sure, the beaches look slammed, but during our visit, we found everyone kept their distance and we had 0 concerns. We were able to easily access the beach, and make some great summer memories. I’m glad we went when we did, because I have a feeling many of these beaches are headed for a shut-down as more out-of-towners flock to the outdoors for the only summer escapes available at the moment. Keeping the tourists coming to these locations is both a blessing and a curse at this time, while businesses struggle through a raging pandemic.