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Professor Kevin Maillard in The New York Times: Parenting by FaceTime in Coronavirus Quarantine

Posted on Friday 3/20/2020
Kevin Noble Maillard

(The New York Times | March 20, 2020) The saccharine melodies of Kidz Bop play on repeat, alternating with the “Frozen II” soundtrack. My two children, who are 7 and 4, run around our Manhattan apartment, showing the typical strains of stir-craziness from endless hours at home: “He hit me!” “That’s mine!” “Why do I have to take a bath?”

They do online art lessons and they have Silly Time at noon followed by some character-themed yoga. Sometimes they are allowed to watch “Paw Patrol,” which is usually perfect for maintaining quiet during a work call. They FaceTime me.

I’m 10 feet away, on coronavirus quarantine in the master bedroom, and I have been here for days. My partner, who has a demanding corporate law job, is now working from home and saddled with all of the physical work of child care, while I quack orders from the other side of the closed door.

I can’t make lunch, give baths or administer Band-Aids. All I can do is try to enforce naptime, referee kid squabbles and attempt to soothe their fears from the other side of the wall. This poorly timed absence renders me helpless and guilty, and I’m an Episcopalian.

I got tested for Covid-19 last weekend after feeling fatigued and having a mild fever. At the urging of a forcefully persuasive doctor friend, I walked to our local urgent care center and told them about my symptoms. I am a recent cancer survivor, which makes me “at risk,” so I was tested for flu and coronavirus.

The doctor pushed a cotton swab so far up my nose that it seemed like malpractice. He placed it in a vial and sadly announced that “it doesn’t look like it’s going to be flu.” Then he said, “If you thought that was bad, the next test goes much deeper.” This time, he took out a thin, flaccid swab and shoved it into my wasabi burn area, all the way down to my tongue. I tried to suppress my gag and act like an old pro at pandemic testing. I failed ...

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