Can the tooth fairy get Covid? That was the perplexing question I had to ask myself, when my 7-year-old Covid patient lost a tooth. She and I recently spent 10 days isolating in the apartment at the side of our house, to protect the rest of the family. It was strange to spend all day and night in the presence of the very virus which we had all been avoiding so scrupulously for the past 18 months.
Just days after the kids returned from their summer holidays, there was a Covid outbreak in school. After some children in her class tested positive, the onset of a mild sore throat and headache prompted us to immediately get my daughter tested. It was a shock when the text came through confirming that she had Covid. When I went to tell her the news, she was playing happily on the swings. She came in and wanted to talk about it, she was understandably upset, and was struggling processing what it meant. I managed to assuage her worries. She felt quite well, but was most worried about not being able to play with her brother and sisters.
We soon found plenty of fun things that she could do, while keeping her distance from the others. The kids collected firewood and we lit a bonfire in the woods, where we cooked marshmallows, in a socially distanced manner. The kids found hide and seek games they could play outdoors, while staying well apart. She could also cycle her bike around the garden happily. She and I could go on the trampoline together, and for walks around the garden. All the normal rules around television and screen time were dropped for the duration. Yet she was not very sick, indeed, she was full of beans, so plenty of outdoor fun was vital.
She and I pretended that she was in a hotel, since her every meal had to be delivered to her quarters. Each morning, I was roused by the cry of “room service!” She soon became increasingly daring in her room service requests, and began asking for treats like a hot chocolate. I gave in more than I usually would, since I wanted to do all I could to make these strange days pass by more pleasantly for her. We ate our meals together outside on the deck. We developed some nice routines in our little den, and it was lovely to spend so much time together.
The first thing in the morning, I would open all the windows and doors to ventilate her room. Although I was vaccinated, I tried to avoid too much exposure. Fortunately, it was early September and the days were still dry and warm. It was a strange time, living in close quarters with a Covid patient, and avoiding the rest of my family. I was looking after her full time, while also working from home and helping her to do a little school work each day. Of course, the other kids were also off school and preschool since they were close contacts. This meant we had four kids to manage at home. The older kids settled back into their all-too-familiar lockdown routines of online learning, but it was a long ten days.
As time wore on, each day soon blurred into the next. At last, we began counting down the last few days to our freedom. After one final night in captivity, we returned triumphantly to the house, where her recovery was celebrated with a breakfast of pancakes. That day, the rest of the family also had to have Covid tests. Thankfully, we all tested negative, which meant that everyone could return to normal life once again. The virus had made it into our home, but we managed our way through. As the delta variant makes its way through the nation’s schools in the months ahead, many more families will have similar experiences. Thankfully, most children seem to bounce back from the virus with ease, and many barely notice they have it at all.