Do you remember where you were in the year 2020? I know some of you were nothing more than little eggies and tadpoles in your mamas and dadas waiting to be conceived, but I was eleven (yes, I know I’m dating myself). Actually almost eleven. I remember because I’ll never forget my eleventh birthday. It was different than any other. But let me start at the beginning.
It was my last year in elementary school, and it was going along pretty well until suddenly one day the teachers told us we weren’t coming back to school for a while. There was a sickness called the coronavirus going around. They didn’t know how long it would be, but I remember they gave us all our own laptops. My brother Holden and I were so excited and fired them up the second we got home.
Things got even better after that. I kind of remember missing my friends a little and that there was some sad stuff on TV, but everything else was pretty awesome. It didn’t matter when we did our schoolwork, so we could sleep as late as we wanted and go to bed way later than usual, and I got to wear pajamas every day! My mom said the only rule was that I had to brush my teeth and change my underwear.
My parents were really concerned about keeping things “fun,” so my mom gave us ice cream with lunch every Friday just like they did in school, and my parents let us have sleepovers with them every week, and we even had a giant video game competition with our whole family. Well, the four of us.
We didn’t get to see our grandparents because we didn’t want them to get sick, and that made me a little sad, but eventually we got to and that was an amazing day. And we still got to see them on video chats and I remember talking to lots of people on my computer and my phone, even people I hadn’t really spoken to before. That’s when my older cousin and I started to chat and become friends and probably why we’re so close today.
I mean sure there were some weird things like people had to stay far away from each other and wear masks because of the sickness, but that meant we did some other cool stuff. Like my mom and I drew a really long obstacle course with chalk on our sidewalk to keep people entertained. I remember sitting with my mom in our front window all day long watching kids go by and do the obstacle course.
We also couldn’t have birthday parties so I remember doing fun car parades and my mom let me ride without my seatbelt on (gasp!) and stick my head out the sunroof while we drove past my friend’s house honking and yelling Happy Birthday!! The kids even did a huge birthday parade for me when I turned eleven. I’m sure there were only like twenty cars, but it felt like over 100! It ended up being the best birthday of my life.
But you’re probably wondering why all this even matters and why I’m even blogging about it 24 years later. This is why. If you ask my parents, they’ll tell you how worried they were in 2020. They were worried we’d get sick, that we weren’t getting a good education, that we were missing out on our activities and friends, and that we were bored. I wish I could go back in time to tell my parents not to worry so much. Because looking back I kind of think it was amazing. For the first time ever, I had nothing to do. I filled my time by drawing pictures, painting canvasses, baking cakes, playing with my brother, building with LEGOs, making forts, rearranging my room, making videos, playing in the backyard, drawing with chalk, writing songs, and using my imagination for hours and hours every day.
It was just a tiny little sliver of my childhood but it did two BIG things for me. It brought my family closer together and it helped shape me into the creative person I am today twenty-four years later.