Care in the Time of Covid
Just imagine… you have just become a parent. Just six weeks ago,equivalent to the time that it typically takes to process a passport, you didn’t have that title of parent. Of guardian, of a person that must watch over and care for another human’s life. In the length of time that it takes for you to receive your passport you must say goodbye to your child, your infant. For six weeks the only sustenance your child needed came from you and now… you are standing in a line, six feet behind the family in front of you. Waiting for a stranger, with their body covered in a mask, shield, gloves, and smock, to take your child’s temperature in order to determine if your child has been infected…. The staff member greets you as warmly as one can while under all the PPE and directs you through processes of drop-off. Such a foreign concept to a new family. The PPE person assures you that your child is in good hands and then. That’s it. Your baby is gone. You don’t know how many steps it will take for the person to arrive at your child’s classroom. You don’t know how the teachers greet your child or even if they do. You don’t see how your child reacts to a new environment, people, children, food or surroundings. There is limited opportunity to build a connection with the people beyond the front doors of a center that cares for your child. Connections are lost. Communication is, virtual, remote. Touch is forbidden. Participation and family engagement is a potential hazard. We are providing care and education for your child. However, we cannot properly care for the guardian who turns their back every day to a person in PPE to wipe tears from their eyes. We cannot slow the heartbeat of a guardian who fears for their child’s safety and wellbeing. They must do this now on their own. They are their own support.
As providers we cope in many different ways to stave off the fear that comes when we awake in the morning. To push away the question “Is today the day I get infected”? We cry, but cannot embrace our fellow employees as we hear of another death, another in the hospital, another loved one in quarantine.
But, when we enter the classroom we are not only your child’s teacher. We are the loving touch a mother would give to a concerned child. We are the silly songs to distract from a difficult guardian departure. We are the person that pretends to call Mommy for the 30th time to make sure she’s coming back to pick up at 3:30pm. We are the photographers for missed birthday celebrations, missed milestones, and ‘you did it’ moments. We continue to serve as we said we would. To list A challenge during a pandemic is impossible. As childcare providers we challenge ourselves to tackle everything that comes our way, each and every day.
Our challenges are all of those missed connections.