• Mary MacCarthy

How are the kids getting by?

Updated: May 13, 2020

It occurred to me that we can’t talk about “how we are getting by” without also taking into account the perspective of kids - who are living through the unusual and trying experience of the Covid-19 crisis just as intensely as adults are.

So I reached out to a few children to hear what they have to say. A huge thank you to the three kids who were willing to take part in my first youth interviews. They told me about adjusting to school days on Zoom, developing friendships on FaceTime, and how they're getting along with their families during the lock down.

Lock down means lots of quality time with Anabell's cat and two dogs

Eleven year-old Anabell is a 6th-grader at Richland Avenue Elementary in west Los Angeles. She lives with her parents and her younger brother, Aiden.

HOW ARE YOU GETTING BY? I’m doing well. Although it’s a little different. Normally I feel like my house is bigger but now I feel like it’s cramped, because we’re together all day. It’s my brother Aiden and my two moms and two dogs and a cat. We wake up at 8 A.M. or a bit later, get up and get dressed, brush our teeth, I feed the cat, and my mom makes breakfast for us. Then I get on Zoom with my math teacher, until 9:45, then I Zoom with my language arts teacher for an hour. After that I do homework until lunchtime.

All dressed up but unfortunately no place to go during the Covid crisis

I’m going into 7th grade next year so these were supposed to be my last few months at my elementary school, Richland. Normally I wouldn’t say this but I actually miss school. School brings us closer together. But actually, in some ways, quarantine brings us closer together as friends. I have this one friend, we don’t talk very much, usually - but I’ve noticed that we’ve talked so much more lately. I talk to her even more than I talk to my parents. We email each other and sometimes we Zoom each other. We work on Spanish - she’s teaching me Spanish - then we just talk. I’m honestly thinking and hoping the pandemic will end by summer. What my friends and I are saying is, will we have our 6th grade culmination over Zoom?

Backyard swimming helps to pass the time!

I’m definitely bored sometimes especially after lunch, when my brother still has class work to do, but I’m done. Before that, I’m happy because I can communicate with my friends. My teachers are doing a very good job making it fun for us. I have been a little scared that my friends or family members could get Covid. I haven’t seen the other half of my family. I’m just praying that they don’t get it, or that my friends don't get sick either. Every day we swim in the backyard, and play games inside. Fortunately Aiden and I get along pretty well. We get annoyed with each other but then we’re friends again.

Starting the day with the iPhone... and coffee?

Greta is in 2nd grade in the Spanish program at the Denver Language School. She lives in Denver with her parents and her younger brother, Rex.

HOW ARE YOU GETTING BY? I’m good. I’m FaceTiming with my cousin a lot. And playing Roblox with her. Also, there’s lots of drama with my little brother Rex. I wake up at 7 or 8 every day. We have an 8:10 A.M. meeting with my teacher. We talk about the day’s schedule and check that everyone is there. She shows us the morning announcements. Usually we start with math. My mom prints out the papers I need for the rest of the day. I do take lots of breaks, mostly to go outside and play on the trampoline.

Diligently keeping up with her classes on Zoom

How am I feeling about all this? Frustrated. There's no longer the fun stuff - fun breaks like we get at regular school. Now it’s just assignments all day long. Am I scared of Covid? I don’t want anyone in the world to get it, my elders or anyone, my friends and family.

Greta with her brother Rex

Do your teachers talk about the pandemic? No What’s the best part of homeschooling? That I can be with my family. I can ask my parents for help with anything. I’m grateful this is happening in spring and not the winter, because I get to go outside all the time. That's the best part of all of this.

Do I have any new hobbies? I call people A LOT. I’m calling friends and family. I’m using electronic devices a lot more than I used to. Now I get to send lots of texts. I got my own iPhone thanks to Covid.

[Here Greta’s mom, Erin, jumped in to specify that Greta has access only to an old iPhone, and only as part of the "pandemic parenting" that necessitates extra generosity with kids when it comes to time spent on electronic devices. Erin said that when she walks into her basement and sees Greta with a multi-device set-up, playing a video game with her cousin while also FaceTiming with her on another device, she feels like she's living with a college student and not with a second-grader.]

L.A. girl planting flowers in Colorado

Moira is a 3rd grader at Richland Avenue Elementary in west Los Angeles. She lives with me, and she tells you the rest of the details in her answers below - which she would answer only in writing, not out loud.

HOW ARE YOU GETTING BY? Hi! I’m Moira! I live in L.A. but I'm in Denver, Colorado to stay with family. We came here because my mom and I didn’t want to stay in our apartment alone while we were in quarantine. We are living with two of my aunts, my grandparents, and two dogs.

One of the dogs, Macy, is ours. and the other, Roary, is Auntie Erin’s. The two do not get along.

I sometimes get into disagreements with Auntie Cara and sometimes Auntie Erin but overall I like living here way better than I would’ve in LA.

Living with all adults isn't easy, but Moira's dog helps keep her sane

It’s really nice here because we have a big backyard. We are going to plant a vegetable garden and set up a slackline and possibly a zipline. It’s going to be crowded but fun!

Another project I am working on is a dollhouse. I am already making furniture for it and I am going to add on a part to the kit I have so it looks like the house I am in right now.

I have been reading a lot of books since I’ve gotten here. In the last two or three weeks I’ve read about thirty Baby-Sitters Club chapter books. They are very fun to read.

I think the hardest thing about staying at home is not being able to see people. That is why I am grateful to have a lot of family around me. Even if they are adults. Are you scared of Covid-19? No. What do you think of homeschooling? I don’t want to answer any more questions.

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