UNION TWP. — When raising kids, parents have to make tough choices.
During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Jerrica Smith and her husband, Austin, residents of Union Township, had to make a couple of those with six-year-old Della and five-year-old Xander.
These include having to tell them they can’t enjoy certain activities.
“They couldn’t understand why they couldn’t go play with their friends or go to the park to play, or go to scheduled birthday parties,” said Jerrica.
They had to tell Della and Xander that, among the things canceled because of the pandemic, were the spring soccer season and a family vacation to Disney World.
“A lot of their fun freedoms were taken away almost instantly and it took some time to process it,” said Jerrica. “There were a lot of tears and questions.
“After the initial shock, we talked about why things were the way they are right now more matter-of-factly — what it is, what could cause it to spread, and trying not to get other people we love sick.”
They talked about germs and even had them do the “pepper in water experiment” to show them how soap helps combat germs with washing hands frequently.
“Being honest, letting them see visuals, and having hands-on learning has helped foster their understanding,” said Jerrica.
Jerrica, who works with the elderly as a physical therapy assistant, has had experience with practicing isolation precautions and knows what it can do for the elderly and children.
“(Isolation) helps minimize any transmission of whatever bug/virus is present. The practice is very effective as long as people are compliant with the precautions,” she said. “My initial concern was for the most vulnerable populations that I am in contact with daily.
“Protecting my elderly patients, keeping it away from my kids, and those who are immunocompromised was, and still is, my biggest concern.”
With so many of their usual fun activities getting canceled, the kids get bored. But to Jerrica, that can be a good thing.
“I feel like their brains are wired to be constantly on the go, and this has helped their brains slow down a bit and process things differently,” she said.
During their downtime, they’ve been able to think more creatively, according to Jerrica. They’re seeking out their own ways to entertain themselves, ranging from reading to putting on plays/shows, outdoor adventures, and science experiments.
“As long as the weather is nice, we go outside as much as we can,” she said.
Their favorite activity so far is riding their bikes without their training wheels.
“They were so determined,” she said. “We took almost the whole day to practice, and by the end of the evening they were both like, ‘Look Ma, no training wheels!’”
While there have been frustrating moments while being at home, being together with her family has been a joy.
Her piece of advice for parents: Hang in there.
She also added a special “Thank you” to the essential workers in the community.