The nightmare of parenting through two years of a pandemic

Originally published at: The nightmare of parenting through two years of a pandemic | Boing Boing


Hot Take: this wasn’t a war. This wasn’t a Great Depression. This wasn’t even a “Contagion”-level plague. Yeah, you had to spend time quarantined 24/7 with your healthy children, go to work via Zoom, and take home-delivery of your meals. “I’m not sure how we come back from this.” Here’s an idea: in the near future, let your healthy children go back to school, you go to work, and later dine out in a restaurant. End Hot Take


The article is not about children having to stay at home. It’s actually about the fact that the government at all levels have failed to react to the highly contagious delta variant and the fact that children does get affected. Most (all) public schools killed off remote options that would have kept kids (and their family members) off of the mix. In US, schools are mandatory, so this goes far beyond mere inconvenience.

Wealthy can avoid this by sending kids to private school. I’m avoiding this by having kids abroad. Less fortunate is faced with fear of being exposed to delta variant and man-made hell of anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers without vaccination protection for kids under 12 and no booster until who knows when. That’s a threat to us - not a mere inconvenience.

(edit for clarity)


I’m sending my kid to college with no mask mandates, because the governor didn’t let the university system put one in place. I’m also working this semester at a college with no mask mandates… fortunately, for both of us, most students are masked. I think one person in my class this semester was without a mask. So that’s good at least. My daughter says the same about her campus (which is in the middle of a downtown area).


Please let me know when it’s okay to worry about my kid getting sick of a contagious disease and when I’m just being an entitled asshole.


Hot take: The existence of other shitty things does not invalidate the shittiness of this thing. You have no earthly idea what you are talking about.


Add to this the fact that most non-white-collar jobs (and many white collar ones) are requiring employees back at workplaces during this school year. Which puts parents in the even more painful position of sending kids off to what are shaping up to be viral breeding grounds five days a week with (in many states) almost zero measures to reduce spread – without even the option of (say) homeschooling or using a remote option if it exists. Not that that would be awesome (see: last year) but at least would be an option if one was able to be home.


Hmmm. Do you have school aged kids? Have you tried having a career and shepherd young kids (even pre literate kids) through online school? You call it a “hot take” but it just sounds like you have a distinct lack of empathy for the trials of other people.


I had a whole summer to have a psychological disconnect from this school year. It was known we would be back full time, and my 8 year old long hit her breaking point with remote school. (School computers should have locked out YouTube, or found a way to lock it during school hours.) This was the only option. I locked away my concerns. After all, I live in a fairly progressive area with people who think like I do, right?

Except I found out that wasn’t true. The father of a family we’re friends with, a man who is usually more quiet and reserved, has been on a mission proselytizing about how people and especially children should not be wearing masks. He’s been regularly attending school board meetings just so he can publicly comment on the current numbers. This is just the most appropriate thing to share about what I learned about this area. No need to discuss Critical Race Theory and racist mascots…

I fear for my kid, and my family, in so many ways. But I have to swallow it because remote schooling was insufficient for her needs. And it also stops me from being angry all the time. Because there’s no reason we need to be trapped in this stupid time loop. It’s even more frustrating that we’re not exactly unique. I just thought that we ended up in a town that would be better than all that. Apparently you can’t live somewhere that doesn’t exist.


I feel so much fear on behalf of friends who have kids returning to the school system this month. Everybody talks about the risk to the kids themselves, which is of course not insubstantial. But how do you handle the fear that your own kid may now be the biggest biohazard for you to defend against? And how do kids deal with realizing that?


Our preschooler brought it home to us. Thankfully my live-in mother in law had been 2x-vaxed by then. Even still we had a rolling state of one member testing pos, the rest negative, then two, then 3 then finally 4 (not counting mum who was able to stay separated.)
We’re lucky in that none of us got really sick. My wife got it worst with massive exhaustion that seems to recur months later.
Thankfully the little who brought it home didn’t seem to gather any guilt (he’s pretty much pure ego still.) I couldn’t imagine the damage done if mum, or any of would have gotten (more) sick or worse.
It was sad/cute when he would ask “wumtime after covid, can we …”
In the meantime we have extended family members who deny and cry freedoms and conspiracy and generally keep this nightmare going. and we keep interacting with them to keep the peace.
It’s exhausting.
– Edit to add –
I’m lucky, I can and have done my work remotely since this began. I’m privileged in this beyond belief. And can’t imagine doing this any other way, yet many many people must and do.


One more log on the fire…for those parents who were fortunate enough to qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to keep themselves and their kids fed and housed, politically conservative states have already yanked the rug out from under them and the rest will be cut off in just two more weeks. Looming bills, evictions, etc.; it’s too much for families (especially single parents) to handle.


…and watch them struggle and play catch-up for the rest of their academic careers, after losing two critical years of normal paedagogy and educational and social development (that’s assuming they didn’t come down with COVID or didn’t have health issues to begin with).

…assuming your workplace is still there to go to. Many won’t be. Others, following the dictums of capitalism, will take this crisis as an opportunity to further squeeze workers.

…assuming the restaurant you enjoy is still there. Many won’t be. From what people I know in the industry tell me, don’t count on new ones filling those spaces, either.

The only thing I can criticise Gareth for is his inadvertently framing the pandemic as something we can “come back from”, giving some the opportunity to claim we can just go back to a (sometimes already unsustainable) “normal”. This pandemic may not have been WWII or the Great Depression or the Black Death, but it is going to have lasting effects that will impact most readers here to one degree or another for decades to come.

Also, thanks to the American conservatism’s opportunistic behaviours (misinformation for the Know-Nothings, neoliberal price-gouging in the developing world) it’s going to be a while yet before COVID variants go the way of polio. So don’t lean too heavily on the “in the near future” part, either.

[Apologies for my inexpert “hot take”, by the way. I know that a child-free, economically secure and privileged individual like myself should demonstrate less empathy in that genre of comment, but I read articles like that mainly to get a perspective on what others are going through.]


Tell me you don’t have kids without telling me you don’t have kids.


The author of this article, Dan Sinker, is an entertaining follow on twitter if you have an account!

Our family is very fortunate in that we’ve already had stable remote jobs pre-pandemic, and have kept those throughout, but raising a 2 and 5 year old through the pandemic is rough. For people who have to find jobs, or stop working to take care of their kids, it must be a nightmare.

We worry about our 5 year old falling behind because remote kindergarten is a cruel joke, we worry about our 2 year old having socialization issues because we’re not seeing other kids, we worry about too much TV while we’re working. We spend more time taking care of them and less time taking care of ourselves.

As numbers started to dwindle we tried to get out a little, to parks and public pools… but we’ve ended up with multiple colds and stomach bugs over the summer, and each time we end up in the pediatricians office getting the kids swabbed because we’re worried it’s covid.

We’ve seen the stress of the pandemic in ourselves and others reflected back by our kids. We try to hide it, but they know it’s there. We worry about starting a new school year in-person despite spiking infections, we worry about other parents not being vaccinated, we worry that the schools don’t have the resources to be safe, we worry that everyone has stopped caring. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s exhausting. We worry it’ll never end.



I’m glad to hear you are surrounded by young adults and adults who are responsible and taking it seriously. I was pleased when I dropped my son off at his West Virginia college last week and everyone had a mask on, despite the state being pretty loose about any restrictions. I wish there were more we can do to stop politicians from pandering to the angry minority, but at least the kids seem to be all right (for now).


For me, the saddest part of all of this is that our heartless economic and political system has left us with a system that turns 2 years with our kids into a “nightmare” instead of an opportunity.

This could have been an opportunity for a radical shift of work-life balance, even if it were always intended to be temporary. We could have been paid by the state part time to support our children’s education while we work our remote or essential jobs part time to keep the economy going. Why make it a burden when it didn’t need to be (Rhetorically speaking, I obviously know the answer)

I am perhaps the most privileged of all here, I have a teaching degree, and currently have a remote job (though I am being recalled part time this week) and my wife works part time from home and was homeschooling our very young kids already. Yes, the kids have been out of their social / extracurricular opportunities of dance and art and swim classes, which has been a major setback, but on the education front, we weren’t devastated, and in some ways, enriched. Also, “socialization” has become a bit of a buzzword that seems to ignore that parents and families don’t normally get enough dedicated time to “socialize” with their kids either!*

At least for the parents of young, unvaccinable kids, It is criminal that there wasn’t a point at which departments of education pivoted to supporting and training parents to help educate their kids, along with financial support and federally mandated time-off to make it feel like the gainful work it is, rather than just a burden.

*ETA: I won’t get into my skepticism of socialization research, but suffice to say that at least the seminal works around socialization in formal school settings were heavily tied into class and race and carry a whiff of a stink of socialization as socioeconomic assimilation…


i have to be AT work - from 7-4 (and am happy to have a job, thank you)

but I also have to figure out how to get kid delivered to and from school - 8-3:30

I’d have to keep my job for health insurance, we live too far for kid to walk or bicycle, etc etc
Its not easy - AND? there is NO HELP.

if he gets the rona - we are all fucked.


@garethb2 It’s so bad that you had to quote the same paragraph twice, in case we didn’t get it the first time? :wink:

But kids born in the pandemic are also on the shitty end of the stick:

Or are they?