Chronicling the Days – Danielle Wong

Welcome to QWF series ‘Chronicling the Days’, specifically for this strange uneasy time of coronavirus and pandemic, of social distancing and self isolation, of lockdown and quarantine.

In April 2020, we invited writers in Quebec to submit a story – of a single day at this time, because while we’re all living through this time, we know that we’re not all living through it in the same way. To stay connected – to know how we’re getting on. Every story valid.

Submissions have now closed for the series but we’ll be continuing to publish the pieces throughout May. Keep an eye for them here, or join us on the QWF FB Community page, and let the authors know if their words resonated.

This piece is by Danielle Wong, writing on Thursday, April 23, 2020.

Image: Danielle Wong

My daughter asks me to stay beside her. At first, the reason is homework. I get up to leave when she is done. She is not willing to let me go. She needs company to colour. I stay and colour with her while we listen to music. Some weeks it is “Lean on Me”, other times “You Lift Me Up”, or “Amazing Grace”. She plays the song of the week over and over, repetition the one thing she understands completely.

Sudden outbursts of anger towards everyone or streams of tears flow out of her around the same time of the day. This is the time of day that used to be reserved for letting go of everything she was holding in from school, all her frustrations at herself for having so much trouble understanding the material, trouble understanding what her peers are saying, all her exhaustion from socializing, from taking public transportation in the morning and the afternoon. Now, this time is for all her frustration at losing independence, not seeing her friends and teachers in person. She does see them on various platforms. She listens more than she speaks, but when she speaks her voice lights up and that time of day becomes a memory.

Movement and fresh air are important. She probably wouldn’t move much if it weren’t for her dance teacher posting moves for a dance and if it weren’t for the YMCA having an online exercise class through live chats.

I ask her to come out for a walk with me. She pulls out her phone and pulls up Google. “First instruction from Google: Stay Home”. I ask if she wants to go biking. She turns her phone towards me. “First instruction from Google: Stay Home”. How about badminton in the backyard? “Google says no!” I explain to her that Google also has a rule to get some fresh air. She is not sure if she should believe me until her siblings tell her the same thing.

The other night, she told me that she likes being home. She can see the friends on her phone. Homework is so much less stressful when the teacher is not in the room. And there is much more time for dancing, drawing, colouring.

That is when it hits me. The sudden transition from going to school every day to staying home every day is not the hard part during this quarantine. The staying home, learning at home, going online to see teachers and friends, that is not the hard part either. The hard part has yet to come. The hard part will be trying to get my daughter back out the door to take public transportation to and from school, to be physically with all her classmates, to be in the classroom to do her work with the teacher in the room.

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