We were surprised that the call didn’t come sooner. But we knew it would finally be our turn. Last week my wife and I received notice from our youngest son’s school that one of his classmates had tested positive for COVID-19. The school had already sent emails about positive cases in other classes; we clicked heels of joy when we learned it wasn’t his. Still, we tiptoed across the minefield to open our emails and answer our calls from school.

Fittingly, the school sends all class members home when they are notified that a student has tested positive. Children and teachers can return 10 days after the last possible exposure, provided it is accompanied by a negative test. This means parents can drive frantically around town looking for a home test or sit in a long line at a testing site to make sure we haven’t spread it unknowingly. The screams of children in the back of the car make it all easier, of course.

I’m sure my wife and I aren’t the only ones joking, but not really, about parents who test positive and send their child to school anyway. In a way, I understand the movement. Especially for some families. Although we don’t have families in town to replace when a child has to stay at home, not everyone has a job like mine where I can “work” at home with a sick child or on the job. quarantine for a few days. Many families are in the unenviable position of choosing between losing the income they need or staying home with their (possibly) sick child. It’s one of many impossible choices for families in Dallas and beyond.

Fortunately, the little man showed no symptoms and tested negative. So now let’s wait.

As I write this my son is wavering between watching Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new movie Encanto (can he write something that is not amazing?) and cutting his fruit out of wood. I can focus on short moments of concentration, but I can’t really do anything that requires more than five minutes of concentration. I guess my kid and I have this in common at the moment.

With two children too young to be vaccinated or vaccinated, a floating cloud of virus-induced fear hangs over every trip to school, park or museum. The omicron and delta variants have brought children to hospital at high rates, and the unvaccinated are even more vulnerable.

Dating has become an awkward cat-and-mouse game, where we all dance between being safe and social while trying not to appear insensitive to those who may be more careful than us. We also need to balance not to seem overbearing towards those who played it fast and cowardly. It’s unclear who will fall on which side these days. Pandemic fatigue and the fear of the omicron are in a tense battle in the hearts and minds of everyone, including families like mine, trying to maintain a bit of normalcy while the virus rages on.

When we learned about the exhibit in her classroom, all of the CDC’s guidelines and best practices became more than theory, more than something to report. Even a medical writer like me with a female pediatrician had to figure out when we should test it ourselves and how long we should wait before seeing someone.

While isolation is a challenge, using all your strength to pin your twisting two-year-old to the mattress while your wife dabs his nose with a cotton swab for 15 seconds is a parental joy that I look forward to. to forget. No matter how much we sell him as a little tickle in the nose, he ends up screaming murder and squirming like a wet fish.

Even without any symptoms and a negative test, I am still home with my child for 10 days. I try to remind myself that he is amazing and perfect in every way. Still, there is a phenomenon for working parents: we look forward to Monday rather than Friday because that means we have a moment to sit quietly, think about it, put on some music we really like, and use a party. different from our brains as we didn’t have to exercise over the weekend.

For those of us who don’t babysit for a living (bless them and pay them), our jobs usually don’t involve breaking up arguments, reminding coworkers not to bite, and cleaning up attempts. unsuccessful toilet training. For me, even a spreadsheet and meetings are welcome breaks from a parenting weekend.

Now the COVID-19 gods have blessed me with several days of solo parenting, trying to maintain the masquerade that I do a little bit of work while putting my vaccination and booster to the test by being in close contact with a child who may have COVID. Unfortunately, I don’t have the stamina or skill to keep a mask on him, so if he has, I probably will.

Everything is not so good. Frustration and anxiety about health (are we going to get sick?) And work (am I jeopardizing leadership and advancement at work by staying home with my children?) Is mother. So I try to see the bright side whenever I can (plus I spend more time with the rc car, which Santa Claus brought for both of us).

But while I love wrestling on the trampoline and playing with Legos all day long, being a parent and working while being in quarantine with your child is no easy task. Most are resigned to the fact that these days they too will receive this call from school, and for the unvaccinated, it is particularly troublesome.

I’m sure Miranda didn’t know Encanto would be released during another wave of COVID (although these days it’s more likely than not). But a character named Luisa sings a song that hits a bit too close to home for caregivers around the world these days, as they juggle the worries of family, health and career building. . She sings:

Give it to your sister, your sister is stronger

See if she can hang on a little longer

Who am I if I can’t carry it all?

If I falter

Despite my complaints and identification with Luisa, we were lucky. No one in our family has contracted COVID-19, and I haven’t lost anyone to the virus, unlike over 800,000 families in the United States alone. So we try to do our best for our mental and physical health, turning all our plates even in quarantine. Inevitably, a few will fall. And it’s good.