You’re at Level x

January 18th, 2022

So, you’ve gotten your child to wear a cloth or perhaps even surgical mask to school for the last year and a half?

Parents, if you’ve reached this level of the immersive pandemic video game you are unwittingly participating in, welcome to your next challenge. You will now need to convince them to wear KN95s. This, of course, entails getting your hands on some child-sized KN95s in the first place. And if you accept this challenge, remember, every level of this video game gets harder and more unreasonable!

It doesn’t count if you, like me, bribe your kids to wear the masks for one day “just to see if it works” by taking them to the Country Store after school, where they proceed to fondle all the products in sight before putting their hands straight in their mouth. You got the points for the mask-wearing; you lose points for being unable to control your feral, oral children who are seven and really shouldn’t be putting everything in their mouths anymore. 


Anyway. Today, at least, is a reprieve, because we don’t have school (MLK Day), and it’s snowing anyway — which makes me feel like I’ve also gotten video-game credit for besting the superintendent. Ha! You think it’s going to be a snow day? Think again! We didn’t have school anyway!

Meanwhile, I am busy trying to explain why Martin Luther King’s last name was King if he is not actually a king. These are the kind of blatantly obvious questions I have never asked myself before that now seem really important—and that they don’t bother to ask their teachers, who might actually be able to supply a sufficient answer. Instead, they have me, constantly racked with confusion and indecision, to go down that lexicographical rabbit hole with them.

I’ve actually never been very good at video games, which explains why I am cracking under pressure at this point in the pandemic. I had a brief reign over Ms Pac Man as a latchkey kid in the ’80s, and when Atari was first invented, I have to say, I killed it at Super Breakout and Burger Time. But it’s been a good four decades since I‘ve felt that competitive spirit.

As I am writing this, an email comes in from the Brattleboro Rec Department, which sponsors their weekly gymnastics class, informing me that their COVID policy is different from the school’s COVID policy and, if my kids are a close contact, they’ll need to skip sessions. The school’s COVID policy changes weekly. I can’t keep up, honestly. 

I still thought we were contact tracing, but Jon had a very close contact at work, and he only found out anecdotally. No call from the state, HR, or anyone. He works in a medical clinic, so if they aren’t calling close contacts, maybe no one is? Hard saying, not knowing.

You cannot win this particular video game. There are only multiple ways to lose.


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