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Safer at Home

By Melissa Face

And as a teacher, I assigned, corrected, and scored work for my students while monitoring my children’s virtual learning. It was challenging, but we got it done safely, at home.

It is true that home is a refuge, a safe space from the rest of the world. Never has that felt more true for my family than at the start of the pandemic. Early in lockdown, when the hashtag #saferathome appeared on PSAs and at the bottom of social media posts, we had already received that message. We knew we were safer at home, and we had no reason or desire to leave our nest. In those early days, groceries and medications were delivered to our front porch. We had all we needed, including an ample supply of toilet paper.

At the beginning of lockdown, my two children climbed in bed with me each morning and snuggled as close to me as they could. “Is our house tired of us?” my daughter asked. “Like is it tired of our noise and jumping and us being here every day?” I told her our house was happy to have us safe inside and it missed us when we were at work and school. She responded with a smile and wrapped her arms tightly around me.

In early spring, our home functioned as a school and workplace. We logged into ClassDojo, dialed into Zoom, and signed onto Google Classroom. We completed assignments and submitted them for feedback. And as a teacher, I assigned, corrected, and scored work for my students while monitoring my children’s virtual learning. It was challenging, but we got it done safely, at home.

Restrictions were lifted in late spring and people began traveling. Memorial Day beckoned beach goers and lured lake visitors. We stayed at home. We turned our dining room into a Hollywood dinner party. We dressed up like our favorite celebrities, enjoyed homemade food, and toasted our sparkling juice in fancy goblets. “Come stand over here by the wall and chat,” my daughter said to my son. “People do that at dinner parties. I’ve seen it on TV.”

When school closures canceled my kids’ spring festivals and field days, we decided to host our own carnival at home. We ordered decorations, made welcome signs, and drew clown faces. We ordered cotton candy, made cupcakes, and bought peanuts. We handed out tickets, played games, and my mom awarded prizes. Prizes for what? Who won? We all did.

Summer approached and more places began opening to the public. Restaurants allowed in-person dining and theme parks opened to visitors. We still felt safer at home. We grilled outside and ate on the patio. We swam in our above-ground pool and pretended we were riding the teacups at Disney World. I hoisted a child on each hip and spun around wildly as they laughed. “Keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times until the ride comes to a full and complete stop,” I said. They screamed as water sprayed their faces and went up their noses. They uttered only one request: “Do it again, Mama!”

In the evenings, our playroom functioned as a movie theatre. My son converted a cardboard box into a popcorn machine, and we ordered a sign to hang up that read, “Face Family Theatre – Now Starring Craig, Melissa, Evan, and Delaney.” We bought a box of used DVDs online, and we retreated to our private theatre when we were in the mood for a movie.

In a really difficult and uncertain time, our home has functioned as a place to learn, work, and relax. Our home has been our shelter and whatever else we needed it to be. Today, we are packing our bags and leaving our home for the first time since the start of the pandemic. We are going up north for my brother-in-law’s birthday, and my kids are waving and saying goodbye to our house as we pull out of our driveway. As much as we all love to travel, we are worried about leaving our home and our sense of safety behind.

“Goodbye, house!” my kids repeat. “We will miss you.”

I wave and smile, too.

“See you soon, Friend.”

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