Beatrix: Four and a Half

Hi B,

Beatrix in a bike helmet, mask, necklaces, and tshirt that reads, "Fearless"

This is it. This is the letter I write you during the COVID-19 pandemic. Technically the pandemic had started when I wrote the last letter to you. But life outside of China hadn’t been impacted much then. Whereas now most of the world has been on some form of lockdown for three months. The whole world, kiddo. All of us.

I don’t think I can put into one letter what that has felt like. And I don’t think you’ll remember much of it when you’re older. But then, it’s hard to say. Your memory is something else.

I guess what I would say is that by the time you’re reading this, I imagine it’s going to feel far away. It’s going to feel like a chapter in a history book, not a thing that real people really lived. It’s going to feel like “things must have been so different then, because I can’t imagine that happening now.” But the thing is that we can’t imagine it happening now, either. I read somewhere that over a billion children were out of school last month. It will be hard to convey to people who weren’t there what an otherworldly thing the last few months have been.

Right now it’s not just the pandemic, either. All over the world people are marching in protest, despite the virus. We talk to you and your sis about it a fair bit. I wonder how you’ll think about it all, by the time you read this. Right now you understand a concept like anti-Black racism in the context of fairness – of individual decisions to treat other people with respect. That’s where we start. We’re starting to get into more conversations about the structures and systems that perpetuate it. And about our role in dismantling those systems. You asked if we can pour hot sauce on racists. You also asked why those police weren’t in jail.

It’s a heart-achy time, B. No getting around it. The lockdowns made everything weird, especially at the beginning. It felt a bit panicky to go to a grocery store (before everything moved to online-order and curbside pickup). I think some people will have that fear for a while yet. And for you, it meant that you did the second half of junior kindergarten at home, with us, and videos from your teachers. We worried for a bit there about the social impact of it. But you’re a resilient kid and the warm weather has you saying hello to neighbours and dogs again.

It’s not all bad. I know this letter is glum – as I said, our hearts are hurting right now. But we’ve also spent the last 3 months with you in ways we wouldn’t have thought possible. Your mom and I have pushed a lot of the business work to the evenings, after you’re asleep. That’s not a perfect arrangement either, but it means that we have gotten so much time with you and your sis. You’re learning to read. To ride a bike. You’re such a funny kid. Curious about how everything works. And empathetic to bursting. When you worry that you’ve hurt someone’s feelings or gotten in trouble, you crawl under the table to process it. We call it shame-turtling. It’s beautiful.

It has been hard. Really hard. But I’m also so grateful for this time. I don’t know if that will make sense to you, either. That’s appropriate, though. 2020 is a chaotic year. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. But it’s changing things, B. And a lot of it feels like change that was overdue. I am so curious how it will feel to you, looking backwards.

Love you, B.


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