Some disclaimers to start. If you find yourself going all righteous indignation while reading this post, please scroll back to this paragraph, take a deep breath and read it again. I am not discounting the lives lost due to COVID-19. All life is valuable and every death is tragic. I am not suggesting that we don’t need to be doing something about this virus. I am not claiming to know the perfect solution. I am not, REPEAT…NOT, saying one situation is worse or deserves more attention than the other. That is a perspective issue and I realize it’s different for everyone. What I AM saying is this: it shouldn’t be one or the other and there is entirely too much “acceptance” of collateral damage going on. We need to be looking at this from ALL SIDES.
Okay, here we go.
My daughter is four years old. The pandemic has changed her. Once a carefree, happy-go-lucky, extremely laid back child has now morphed into an anxiety-riddled, obsessive pre-schooler. She is obsessed with staying “clean”. A few weeks ago, she had been washing her hands so much that they were RAW. Her tiny little hands were red and cracked and painful because she was terrified of getting sick and she washed her hands 50 times a day at least. We had to make her stop so that she wouldn’t have to cry in pain from her hands. Now, she asks us 50 times a day if she needs to wash her hands.
When she’s eating, if she drops a piece of food in her lap or on the table or chair she asks permission to eat that piece of food.
She tells us every time her fingers go anywhere near her mouth or nose and asks if she should wash her hands now.
When she coughs or sneezes and forgets to use her elbow, she reports it to us and apologizes for it.
She tells us every day if a friend at school or daycare touches her or hugs her or they share a toy. A full report.
SHE. IS. FOUR. YEARS. OLD. She can’t even be a kid. I have no idea what impact this will have on her future mental health. And, neither do you so don’t even bother telling me that “she will be fine” or “she is surviving a pandemic” or any other horseshit that’s going around on social media. YOU DON’T KNOW. None of us has any idea what the response to this pandemic will do to our children, ultimately.
But, at least they’re still alive, right? What about the ones who aren’t, though? What about the ones who’ve committed suicide because their depression has been exacerbated by quarantine or because they can’t get access to mental health treatments or because a telemedicine visit with their therapist was not sufficient? What about the ones who died from abuse or neglect because they weren’t going to school and no one noticed their bruises and there was no food at home?
I don’t have the solution, but what I do know is that what we are doing now is NOT IT. There are victims of the virus and there are also VICTIMS OF THE RESPONSE. When do we start talking about them? When do we get just as pissed off about their situation as we are about people who don’t want to wear a mask? When do we start implementing policies to keep them safe?
When do we flatten their curve?