‘If we had to go back to school I’d be furious’: Kids on pandemic life

Kids on fighting boredom, too much screen time, and what’s actually better about life in these times
Artwork done by Thridev during the pandemic.
Artwork done by Thridev J C durign the pandemic.

Children’s lives may be the most dramatically reshaped by the pandemic; yet their voices are often missing from the public discussion. Maclean’s reached out to kids, particularly in areas hit hardest by COVID-19, and asked them to share their thoughts on pandemic life, friendships, what they miss, and the return to school. Here’s what they had to say.

Thridev Chandramouliswar, 8

I’m about to go to a trail and race down the steepest hill on my bike. My [three-month-old] baby sister is right beside me. She’s so cute. One time we gave her a little pinch of ice cream and she gave the biggest smile of her life.

I’m doing wonderful. Today we went to Best Buy and bought some Fortnite games, and an AC because it’s so hot in here. I feel like I’m sitting in a desert.

I’m pretty good without being in school. All students hate doing homework. It’s so hard, and I hate all the details. Kids want peace and rest! I don’t know any kids in this world, but I know all kids hate homework.

Artwork done by Thridev during the pandemic.
Artwork done by Thridev Chandramouliswar during the pandemic.

I enjoy being home. We make popsicles, we make cakes. My grandmother is an artist in baking cakes. My favourite is a banana cake and last night she made a vanilla cake. My mom buys me toys like Snap Circuits. And I have singing class, and basketball class, and art class. I’m learning to sing in our language (Tamil).

I know social distancing is good for us, and we have to do it, but I still don’t like it. If we had to go back to school, I would be furious. Well, if kids went back and they got coronavirus, then I don’t want to go. But if the coronavirus is gone, then send me.

Thomas Flowerday, 15

Yesterday was my birthday. I woke up to my dad making me breakfast, and everyone celebrating with some early-morning gifts. I went on a bike ride with my cousin and at night I saw my friends, on bikes.

I’m in grade 9 and I was just settling into the new school. But I thought teachers did a good job keeping in touch and posting work and making sure we were doing well. I do miss sports–connecting with teammates, coaches, the practices, the games.

Some parents are more strict about social distancing, so some friendships slip, but some friendships grow. Some parents have really discouraged kids from going out because they were really worried about the spread.

Thomas Flowerday (right). (Photographs by the Rockwell Flowerday Family)
Thomas Flowerday (right). (Photographs by the Rockwell Flowerday Family)

My family has masks. We wear them sometimes, not all the time. I don’t worry about the pandemic for myself. And it’s not a topic of conversation with my friends. No one’s really worried about it in my friend group. I can still go outside, and work out, and see friends from a distance. There are sacrifices we have to make but it’s not horrible.

Also, when school was on, and sports, there was always an urgency to get somewhere and get more down. Now we can just relax with our family and settle in for once. It’s really cool—my dad and I go mountain biking frequently and I’m playing board games with my step-brother Evan.

I’m pretty sure when we go back to school it’s not going to be the way it normally is. But I’m pretty excited to see what they come up with. I guess a bit nervous, a bit excited.

Chloë LeMoyne, 16

I’ve been exercising a lot more, sleeping a lot more. I’ve been eating a little bit less because there’s less structure there.

Online school was hard. I think it’s pretty hard to make yourself work. And I have a few friends who have ADHD. For students with ADHD, it was really a struggle to work at home. Honestly, sometimes I almost let them copy my assignments, because it sounded really, really hard for them to keep up.

Being the child of an anesthesiologist can be worrying for some, like Chloe Lemoyne (Roger LeMoyne)
Being the child of an anesthesiologist can be worrying for some, like Chloe Lemoyne (Roger LeMoyne)

The coronavirus is kind of a concern, but I’d say what has been occupying my mind is mostly the riots and protests [in the United States in late May]. I’ve found those way more stressful to think about than the virus, because the riots are something that’s manmade—it’s something that people did to themselves.

Evan Rockwell, 13

I have my regular routine. I work from usually 10 to 3. I like to work out, go on the trampoline, lift weights. I like playing video games with my friends. I do miss my activities. I didn’t really at first, but now I’m craving them.

I’m not the most social person. I have a good friend group, but I’m an introvert. I don’t like big crowds and I don’t really want to be around people all the time. But now since social media is taking off, I’m actually getting more friends and people to hang out with.

I was on social media, but not as much as I am now, and I’m not really sure if that’s a good or bad thing. Sometimes it feels like I’m doing something wrong. And whenever I’m not on it I feel happier ’cause I’m not seeing everyone else in parties and good posts—like people having good times with their friends and I’m sitting at home, lonely.

Evan Rockwell. (Photograph by the Rockwell Flowerday Family)
Evan Rockwell. (Photograph by the Rockwell Flowerday Family)

Some of my friends are a lot more worried about COVID than others. I was hanging out with a friend and we were biking and we were really far apart. Then I started biking randomly closer to him, still almost six feet, and he just swerved to the right. But I don’t blame him.

[I live in two houses, and] people are stressed cause we have five kids in one of the houses and three in the other. So it’s tough. Early in quarantine, one of the cousins snuck out to go see a boy, you know. So then we weren’t able to see our dad for two weeks. We have a six-year-old in my dad’s house and she’s always carrying around her little stuffed teddy that makes her feel better. She’s got two of them, actually. She is feeling nervous and she doesn’t know what’s going on and she’s kind of scared.

Joshua Miller, 8

I miss me time. I don’t really like that now my brothers have a lot more time to bother me.

I miss traveling ‘cause [my aunt is a flight attendant and] we used to travel every two months. My favourite trip was probably Switzerland.

We still get to play with our friends, but—distance. Sometimes it’s two metres. Sometimes it’s only a metre.

We get to have a movie every night instead of once a week. Seven times a week! I FaceTime or Zoom with friends, and my friend figured out how to make a green screen in the background so he had a Caribbean background. But then my friends start getting carried away and get stuck sharing YouTube videos, and it turns out to be like a three-hour video chat.

What makes me happy? Getting to be home.

Neil Miller plays hockey with his son Joshua (Photograph by Marta Iwanek)
Neil Miller plays hockey with his son Joshua (Photograph by Marta Iwanek)

Yohan Maramot, 11

This summer I was looking forward to going camping with friends from church. I miss church too—I miss the part when church is starting and we all got to say a brief announcement of what happened this week, and after church, when we get to make a plan for a play date.

I know social distancing prevents the virus from spreading. But it’s making me miss my friends. I’ve read about five to seven books, mostly novels, and when the time limit on my iPad is done, I go on Roblox and find my friends and help them out. But sometimes my friends say they have to go, and my mom has to go to work and my dad is going with his cooking business.

I think about the coronavirus a little bit. It’s all over the news and I’m in grade 6 and we read articles about coronavirus—where it started, where the myths started, the fake stuff like “bat soup,” and how to prevent yourself getting sick. There’s a lot of fake stuff, and it got popular because it’s over-exaggerated. My biggest worry is my mom [a nurse] comes home from a shift and finds out that she’s positive.

Yohan. (Courtesy of Reyamie Maramot)
Yohan Maramot (Courtesy of Reyamie Maramot)

I have mixed emotions about school in the fall. I’ll finally get to see my friends and my teachers. but there’s still a little feeling that the coronavirus might come back. I think we should stay at home until we’re completely sure the coronavirus has ended.

The thing that makes me happiest right now is staying connected with my family and friends. When coronavirus started, they said stay in your homes. And the more I stay home, the more connected I feel with my family.

Isabelle Mackinnon, 12

Time goes by slow but at the same time it’s going by really fast. My family plays a lot of games and we watch Jeopardy.

Isabelle. (Courtesy of Melissa MacKinnon)
Isabelle MacKinnon (Courtesy of Melissa MacKinnon)

My biggest worry is getting back to my activities. I do soccer and gymnastics and golf. In gymnastics I would do 12 hours of training a week. But I still get a lot of exercise.

And I was never free before. I was always busy and I had to get somewhere. It was never relaxed and chilled. Now I get relaxed time, more time to do anything.

I don’t worry so much about coronavirus because there are so few cases here in P.E.I. If there were more, I would worry.

Isabel’s mother, Melissa: It was stressful at the beginning. As an emergency physician, my husband was in emergency meetings to configure an emergency department. He’s also one of two physicians who oversees seven of the nursing homes on the island. We were prepared for us to be separated and for him to go into isolation if he tested positive, but he didn’t. We’ve been lucky in P.E.I, and we had also had a very big trip—we’d been in Asia. So we had already been immersed in distancing and masks and all the things that Asia did. We landed in Shanghai airport in February. The airport was a ghost town, and we were headed to the Philippines to see a close friend’s family. But then our trip back got cancelled so we decided to go to Japan.

But we were in Asia in February. That was a little scary. Our flights were getting cancelled and I didn’t want to be stuck there for a long time.

Jaime Rockwell, 15

I have two houses and both houses are strict on their own levels about the quarantine rules. At my mom’s house, it’s pretty open. I can go out and see my friends and go on walks with them. But at my dad’s house it’s more strict, and we were not really supposed to be seeing anyone at all. It’s definitely been hard, but it’s good.

I’ve actually been enjoying online school, which sounds kind of weird. I’m pretty techie and just being able to sit in your pajamas at home—I definitely like that, ‘cause at school I have a uniform. And I really like my relaxing time. And I love drawing, and now I have a lot of time to draw.

I don’t really know how to say this, but through quarantine, the people who reached out to me and the people who haven’t have kind of shown me almost who my real friends are. I’ve also made new friends through an app called House Party. Usually you’re doing stuff, but now you actually have the time to sit down and like, try and talk to people.

Jaime Rockwell. (Photographs by the Rockwell Flowerday Family)
Jaime Rockwell (Photographs by the Rockwell Flowerday Family)

Julia Flowerday, 13

The new schedule we’ve developed, I’m just so used to it now, I can’t even really imagine doing anything else. I play piano. I practice every day. And we have family breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we went to actual school, we were always so busy rushing out, playing sports, trying to get to our different activities, we never actually sat down and had a family dinner, or any meal.

I play basketball and made the Canada team and I was supposed to play this summer and travel, but that got canceled. It was something that I did five days a week. So that was really disappointing.

My screen time’s increasing and I don’t feel great about it, but it’s hard not to. I’m on everything: Instagram, Snapchat. At this point, we’ve been in quarantine for so long, it’s making me depressed because I just stare at my phone and, I don’t know, whenever I’m done I just feel a little empty, a little tired.

I took my boaters exam and I got my license. I’ve redecorated my room fully because I’m so bored. I just do random stuff. One time I started knitting. I was so bored I started that habit.

Julia Flowerday. (Photographs by the Rockwell Flowerday Family)
Julia Flowerday (Photographs by the Rockwell Flowerday Family)