This is going to sound a little crazy, but up until now, the pandemic hasn’t forced many difficult decisions in our life. Yes, we’ve faced inconvenience — not seeing coworkers in person, having to figure out what to do with Benji while we try to work all day — but by and large we’ve not had to optimize between, for example, earning a paycheck and staying home. I continually remain thankful for the fact that we can “just” shift gears to follow the state and county health guidances without impossible choices.
But now we’ve hit our first lose/lose decision: What to do with Benji during the summer.
In years past, we signed Benji up for Y day camp every week all summer long, and it was great. He loved it; he made friends, went on cool field trips, and came home happy and exhausted most days. Perfect for everyone!
This year, the Y is still offering in-person summer camps, with modifications to try to protect kids: They’re creating groups of 10 or fewer kids who spend the entire week only with each other, either outside or in a “well-ventilated space.” Kids will wash hands frequently (ha!) and not touch items other kids have touched (ha!). No field trips, no mixing with other groups.
These precautions seem reasonable, but at the same time, totally inadequate. When Benji is exposed to COVID-19 — and trust me, he inevitably will be — he will pick his nose, as he does a zillion times a day, delivering the virus directly to an ideal incubation environment. And from there our family is off and running with quarantining and months of illness.
The upshot is that, as we’ve talked about it and I’ve considered it, I have become increasingly uneasy at the risk of exposure. While I know that we’ll have to send Benji out some time — at the very least when school starts, assuming it does — that doesn’t mean we should do so now.
And, at the same time, the Y is offering a much more limited number of spots this summer. That means we have to register ASAP, but it also means that Benji getting a spot could be taking a spot from a family who really needs the childcare. For us, it’s inconvenient to have Benji at home all day, every day, while we’re trying to work. We won’t get nearly as much work done. We’ll spend half the day saying, “Go play by yourself. I need to work.” But, ultimately, we can do it.
Even with my mom literally too sick and tired to help much; even with my in-laws not super available; even with Ian’s work deadlines preventing him from taking time off during the summer; even with all that, worst comes to worst, I’ll spend all summer at home with Benji. I will try to work and he will be very bored. That’s literally the worst that will happen if we don’t send him to camp.
If we do send him, the worst is we all get COVID-19, my weak lungs can’t handle it well, and I end up in the hospital on a ventilator. We all are quarantined and spend months recovering. The chances of one of us dying is pretty slim, but at least some of us would very likely end up extremely sick for a long time.
So this is me thinking through this decision over and over. Pros and cons, risks and rewards. In the end, I’m accepting that there’s no right decision here. There’s just trying to make the least-wrong decision.