Beatrix: Five

close photo of beatrix's face, smiling and looking down

This letter is a few weeks late. Your mom says that’s the fate of second kids. First kids get the diligence of parents who don’t know any better, and second kids get the rounded edges, hand-me-down version. As a kid who grew up eldest at one home, and youngest at the other, I am ready to believe it. But the important thing is that you’re five and I’m here and I love you.

A lot has happened since my last letter to you. We’re now about 10 months from when the first COVID lockdowns hit. 296 days, give or take. In some parts of the world, it’s been eradicated – they’re close enough to zero cases that people can eat in restaurants again, have guests for dinner again, hug their families again. But not here. Not most places. Canada’s climbing a mean second wave, and your family in the states are staring down a truly monstrous third (though their second never really ended).

You had in-person school in the fall and it has been so good for you and your sis. I have journal notes from those days in the late summer where we were trying to decide what was most right for each of you – it was so hard in that moment to see clearly. And no two families had the same math to do on it. But for us, having you both back was utterly correct. You have flourished. Your teachers are amazing, despite being dealt a very hard hand this year. You come home singing French songs and catching us up on kindergarten drama and telling us who you’re going to marry.

We can’t know what would have been different in a universe without COVID, but in this one, you go nonstop. From the moment you wake up to half an hour past bedtime, it’s a running narrative, interspersed with science facts and correcting us when we misidentify a colour.

Seriously, the colour stuff, B. I dug out my old psych textbooks to see if there was a reliable way to detect human tetrachromacy because I swear you see it differently than the rest of us. You always have. When you were really little, I’d say, “Look, a yellow school bus.” And you’d say, “Orange. Not yellow, daddy, orange.” And you were right. I was calling it yellow as a convention, but in this instance it was clearly orange. I chalked it up then to you being literal, which you are. But the colour stuff keeps going and so I just want to put it here in case the adult you ever wonders if that was always a thing. It was.

You play minecraft with your sis and build rainbows and tree-houses and tell me when the server needs to be reset. You love canned peas, and you eat dessert like your mom. I’m writing this in January and you’re not halfway through your halloween candy. You are also the sloooowest eater and we try to build healthy relationships with food so we’re not giving you shit about it but I swear to god Beatrix it can take you an hour to eat a grilled cheese sandwich.

They’ve started rolling out the early vaccines here to healthcare workers and folks at high risk. Your mom and I figure it’s late spring/early summer before our turn in line. And then however long beyond that for second shots, and enough uptake that case counts drop. We’re not out of this one by a long shot. It makes me sick to think about how much worse it’s been than it needed to be. How many people in a position to make things better failed to rise to the occasion. But my hope is, that by the next time I write one of these, I’ll have better news to share.

Tomorrow you start school again, but virtual. For a week, they say, but your mom and I are braced for longer, if need be. Among the ways our work has changed in the last year is that every RSG child has been part of a management program at one point or another. As have the kids of many of our participants. Last month we taught a toy dinosaur how to think about building a career path. They are beautiful moments in a very hard year.

Thank you for so many beautiful moments. I can’t believe what a big kid you are. I love you, B.

Daddy

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