This whole process of being The Sick Family again has been interesting. A lot is different this time around: We know how the virus works, we are fully-vaccinated, we came prepared with tests and food. Similar, of course, are the tedium, the patience, and the isolation.
Now that Laurea and I are negative, we’re able to go into stores and ride subways and see people (in principle, if not in practice). But Kina is still fully asymptomatic and positive, which means that the person to whom friendship means more than anybody else here cannot see her friends. She trades videos with children she knows, but she spends time with us—the only people guaranteed to have full immunity to the strain of Covid she’s waiting out.
In the onset phase, there was lots of iPad time—the kind of iPad time that would summon the wrath of countless parent bloggers, a fearsome amount of iPad time. In those first couple of days, it seems that Kina watched, in her loft bed, the entirety of a Rapunzel show I did not even know existed.
But every vice wears out its welcome, and Kina has really pulled back from the princess movies over the last couple of days. This morning, we realized that she was alone in her room with the door closed and no audible source of entertainment. We guessed at what might be transpiring behind her bedroom door—what sort of craft was unfolding—and knowing enough, after six years, not to ruin it, Laurea and I just waited until she emerged on her own.
When Kina did open her door, she was bearing an elaborate bead necklace of her own design, more complex than any jewelry she’s made for us so far. She was proud. This is something new—this sense of what she’s capable of when she has only herself to draw on. Every struggle comes with a little joy sprinkled in, and this week of Kina (maybe for all of us) has been a catalyst to something larger.
It’s different this time. What’s different this time is Kina. Different from the three-year-old of 2020, but different also from who she was even a week ago. A gift we didn’t see coming.