By Megan and Merritt Ainslie
One of the numerous memes circulating social media recently hints at how today’s young children will remember this unusual, upended stretch of time in their lives. While this is certainly not the case for all, our family has been blessed in that when our primary aged children are older, the first memories they recall of the spring of 2020 will not likely be ones of empty grocery store shelves, people in masks and gloves, stressed parents, scary statistics on the news, or fear of an illness of pandemic proportions.
No, we are hopeful that their initial recollections, their stories to their own future children and grandchildren regarding this time in their lives consist of how life slowed down immensely, how they treasured the extra, unexpected time with their parents and one another, how they played outside from dawn to dusk some days, how they lazed around on others, how they learned things they may not have, how our community found creative ways to close the “social distance,” how the rhythm of their days and weeks included family, chores, farm work, the icecream truck, fishing, and fort building.
Ironically, we have watched a lot of Andy Griffeth these past few weeks, and gratefully acknowledge that life has reverted back to Mayberry a bit for the four of us. Quality family time is spent sharing meals together, going on family walks(we never knew Hard Labor Creek State Park had such great trails!) and bike rides, enjoying church services from the couch, playing cards, and quiet evenings on the back porch. There is a lot of play, a lost art that we are so thankful the kids have the time in which to indulge. They balk at chores and schoolwork, but grudgingly complete them. Their feet are invariably dirty. They’ve caught numerous fish, tadpoles and frogs. They fight and bicker. They are happy.
We have treasured the opportunity to teach our children things we may not have had the time to otherwise. Sam, age 8, is learning to help bush hog and cut grass. Amelia, age 6, assisted in making Easter cookies from scratch, as well as a homemade cake for her dad’s birthday. At the family farm next door, they have helped build and supply worms for a worm bed. They’ve also made memories playing Ainslie-style ultra competitive four-square, shuffleboard, ping pong, and pool. There’s been homemade ice cream, tree climbing, and swims in pool water that’s still a bit too cold.
These are the things that we hope come to their minds years from now when they think back to this peculiar time. While we know that this virus has had a range of impact on families in our community, we are thankful for the blessing of extra quality time together this spring. We are also extremely grateful for all essential workers who continue to strive to keep us all safe, healthy, and fed.
Megan and Merritt Ainslie are educators in the Morgan County School System.