My son (age 7), in the bath this evening, asked me, “Daddy, when will we travel out of state again?”
I’m going to leave aside all of the rather astonishing class implications of that question, and instead focus on what I think he was really trying to get at:
“Daddy, when will it be over?”
He asks other versions of this question: “When can we go to Aunt <Blank>’s house and pet the llamas?” Or more tragically, now that it’s been going on two years, “Daddy, when can we go there? [points to a picture of the last family reunion] What was the name of that nice lady that gave us the bouncy cows?”
“Daddy, when can we go to the hotel in Norway that had the ball pit and all the legos?”
“Daddy, when can we go to the Aquarium where the dolphins danced?” [this would be the Georgia Aquarium]
“Daddy, when can we go to Mojo Dojo?” (an indoor for-pay gym space with trampolines, etc.)
“Daddy, when can we go to that big gym where Leo had his birthday?”
“Daddy, when can we go to the museum?”
“Daddy, when can we play in a bounce house?”
“Daddy, when can we have a pajama party and sleepover?”
I don’t know, son. I don’t know. Maybe never.
He then asked me whether “it” will hurt — by which he meant the vaccine shot. I told him that it would feel like a pinch. This is, while true, sort of beside the point.
The point (for me) is not that the shot will hurt, but that the loss of everything else will never go away. I don’t see my friends much anymore, and the social isolation erodes everything around it (trust, cheer, fortitude, you name it). The being tired at 9 p.m. every night, too tired to binge-watch anything, too tired to get drunk again, too tired to try and call my friends in LA, too tired to contemplate going to a reunion where I will hardly know anyone anyway.
Too tired to try and be cheerful for my sons, when all they want is the things that all children want: to play, and sing, and jump, and play with their friends.