Social Distance Diary, Day 74: Running Into the Unknown

Bridge to Kingman Island

I didn’t keep up with my Social Distance Diary. I did entries for Day 6, Day 8 and Day 10, and then I lost the energy–and I’m sure you know why. When given a small, kid-free block of time (he’s finally freaking asleep!), we face sad choices, like: Shower or sleep? Zoom with friends or sleep? Clean kitchen or sleep? Blog or sleep? You can see how the blogging didn’t rate.

OK, so here we are, entering Phase 1 of reopening tomorrow, the 75th day according to my count (and I am counting from March 16, which is the first day school was out. Did I do the math right?). Given this occasion–upon which not much really changes–I’ll say how things have been going for my family, more for my own record than anything else.

Distance Learning

School is now over. AJ had his last school event today, a Zoom meeting during which his class reviewed the year in photos, danced to a favorite song and received awards like “Outstanding Organizer” (that was my kid, to my amazement–apparently he liked to clean up at school).

In the beginning, I was worried about how distance learning would work out for a PK3 child. Here’s how it panned out, after some weeks of adjustments: Each week, AJ had two one-hour-long Zoom meetings with teachers and classmates, and one half-hour-long Zoom check-in just for him and one teacher. In addition to these, his teachers provided videos of book readings, suggested resources and activities to keep the kids engaged.

An example of an engagement activity: Last week, each day of the week had a color, like blue, and on that day the kids were to wear blue and find blue objects. The parents would take photos and send them in to be shared on the online platform. Then, the parents would show their kid the photos of their classmates, which made for a nice bright spot each day.

I didn’t expect that distance learning would replace preschool. How could it? Distance learning did, however, help my child maintain a sense of connection to special teachers and friends. Also, I found out my kid’s limit for paying attention to (these very engaging) teachers and friends on a screen, and it is one hour a day, max. I thought that his school and teachers did a very fine job in exceptionally difficult circumstances, and I’m grateful for it. And I really hope we don’t have to do it this way in the fall.

Outdoor Activities

Nothing, and I mean nothing, replaces a playground full of kids for exercise for my 3-year-old child. I tried with bikes and scooters, but he’s just not that interested (he probably would be very interested if there were other kids to bike and scoot with).

I never ever ever wanted to live outside of the city, until now. To have a yard with our own jungle gym, to dream of a real pool! I am still happy to live here–the best neighborhood ever–but it’s really hard these days. I HAD a big open field near me (Kingman Field), but they just recently tore it up for new sod and irrigation.

Rock jumping on Kingman Island

Our saving grace has been Kingman Island. I almost hesitate to write about it, because I’d like to keep it for myself. It’s a 100-year-old man-made island right off of the new RFK Fields. It has water views and miles of wide trails (you can pass other people at a safe distance). It is generally car-free, so you can let an impulsive little preschooler run as much as he pleases. There are river overlooks and a meadow for picnicking and resting. There are turtles in the river, lizards on the paths, wildflowers in the grass and butterflies in the air. It’s wonderful.

Looking Ahead to Summer

Not sure if I am exactly looking forward to summer, so I’ll go with looking ahead. My AJ was signed up for two different day camps, both of which are very good at entertaining and taking care of preschoolers and elementary-age kids. At least one of these camps is considering whether it could open under Phase 2, given precautions and smaller groups, maybe half-day and all outdoors, etc. I’m not sure yet if any of that would work for us.

Then there are camps that are going virtual. Online camp is no substitute for real camp (just like distance learning is no substitute for school when it comes to young students), HOWEVER, virtual camp could be a good and enriching option if it works for your kid (probably depending on their age, interests, attention span, temperament).

For me, I am planning to explore to see if I can find an online activity that my 3-year-old could do for just an hour a day, to provide some fun and structure to his summer days, as his school was doing during distance learning.

For you, I plan to compile a list of virtual activities/camps for your contemplation, and also an update on camps in general–which ones are virtual “best bets,” which ones are working on it, which ones have canceled. I hope to get to this in the next few days (crossing fingers that sleeping/showering/kitchen cleaning do not get in my way!).

My Social Distance Diary entries end in a statement of gratitude, so here’s one for the 74th day:

Today I am grateful for …

Kingman Island, a little piece of heaven that I found within walking distance amid social-distance frustration.

Peekaboo, I see you.

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