Carrie Yamato

As May 15 looms with the anticipation of  L.A.’s shelter-in-place order lifted, you can all but hear a collective sigh of relief from parents.

I, however, will not be one of them. 

As much as I can’t wait to ride my bike on the Strand and possibly get my nails done or shop somewhere other than from my computer, I have a teenager.

This means boundaries will be tested, excitement will overtake common sense and the “new normal” will be given as much attention to as the pile of clothes on her bedroom floor.

During quarantine, it was easy to keep things under control and everyone safe. There was nowhere to go and no one to hang out with. 

But last week, as my daughter and her friends met up for two drive-by car parades in celebration of a birthday and a farewell party, I saw the beginning of boundaries blurring and my stress escalating.

Sure, when they first got out of the car to put up the signs and banners, the kids did their best to stay six feet apart. But as stories and laughter unfolded, it was only a matter of time before subgroups formed and gossip only audible within earshot ensued.

And just as expected, when it was time for a group photo, masks did not make the cut.

“I just took it off for a picture,” she replied when I reminded her that wearing a mask if she got out of the car was the deal that we made before we left the house.

“Not everyone was wearing one, she continued,” not realizing because of that fact, it was even more imperative that she keep hers on.

As hard as it was to reason and be compassionate with my daughter as to why we had to be hermits for a month and a half, it will be even harder for me to let her out of our shell.

Do I really make her take a COVID-19 pack complete with hand sanitizer, face mask, gloves and disinfectant wipes along with her allergy pack when she goes out with her friends?

How do I make sure she wears a mask, washes her hands and stays out of the downwind path when she goes to the beach or the mall? 

How do I monitor how many friends she is with?

When school starts in the fall, how am I going to make sure that desks, doorknobs and lockers are clean?

The truth of the matter is, I can’t. I can’t control any of it. 

In the week before the gates open, I’m trying to instill COVID responsibility and etiquette without sounding like a complete over-protective germaphobe.

We’re going to the market, gas station or anywhere else she can get a sense of how to stay safe, but it’s a challenge. She’s excited, I’m a nervous wreck, and the combination does not make for reflective, positive communication.

Adjusting to a new normal is never easy.

But, if I can get through making three meals a day and cleaning up the kitchen for what feels like 297 times in the last seven weeks, I’m hopeful that we can get through this as well. 

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