We Play, We Are Remembrance of a recent past

In our Nova Scotia home on Canada's East Coast we begin our lock down on March 21. There is worry and fear not knowing what lies ahead, having no reference points to help us get our bearing. At the outset, the lock down takes the form of a shelter in place. We should only be leaving our local area to get food or for medical reasons.

There is no visiting with neighbours, family, or friends. There are no organized sports or extracurricular activities for the kids. Schools are shut down and remote learning is introduced. We are able to go out in our neighbourhood as long as we practice physical distancing when we meet others.

We are thankful that in comparison to other countries, the pandemic is not as severe in Nova Scotia. We continue to be of hushed breath though knowing the storm continues to strike around the world with the virus showing no signs of being vanquished.

Fine Tuning

Our kids are 14, 12 and 10 and like many their peers they were initially elated that school was out. It wasn't long though before the novelty wore off and each of them missed their friends. Digital platforms helped to a certain extent but were a weak substitute for the real thing. Our youngest felt the absence of friends the most and on a few occasions in the days, weeks and months of sheltering in place she was inconsolable.

We are grateful that friends and family did not become sick with the virus and grateful that our livlihoods were not impacted. These two things alone contributed significantly to reducing our uncertainty and anxiety. They enabled us to focus on the kids - spending time with them and giving them space when they needed it.

Gimme Shelter
Play helped to get us through to the other side...

Fortunately the three kids had each other. It took a little while, and sometimes they had to be cajoled, but before too long they found their groove. By the time restrictions were lifted, they had made new, deeper connections with each other. They hadn't played together so intensively since our oldest was six - nearly nine years ago.

They built and designed forts and shelters.

Under Construction

And prepared them for our unpredictable weather including high winds

Tying Down

and the frequent arrival of rain

The backyard became their canvas, a playshop where they could make their world, their place to be...

Living Room

The space was made in their own image with little regard to adult sensitivities.

A chaotic and incongruous collection of odds and ends were in fact the building blocks that helped them to define their space and create some comfort in a shifting, unpredictable reality.


There were new tricks

Juggling School

And games, like this impromptu, DIY session of gaga ball

Our guys were able to weather the storm by playing together, keeping their imaginations engaged and being physically active.

Not captured here are our multiple driveway basketball tournaments with homemade medals and a rotating roster of players - just me and the three kids in about a half-dozen championship series. Missing also are our neigbourhood bike rides generally not much longer than 10 kilometers an outing.

Ready to Roll

Throughout the lock down we visited Tranquility Creek (my name for it) on a relatively frequent basis. Less than a 10-minute walk from our house, this soothing little pocket of nature helped to temper those bouts of discord, impatience, boredom and sadness that occasionally took the wind out of our sails.

Tranquility Creek

Overall, I'm very proud that our kids were able to adapt, show resilience and help one another through this time. I'm happy I was able to participate in some of the play and lend a hand in getting us over the hurdles. Our time together created deeper bonds between us, connections grounded in shared experience.

A shout out here for my wife Mélanie who continued to work full time, from home, throughout the lock down. It was challenging for her to focus with the four of us in the house. She showed perseverance and true grit in a very taxing situation.

We're thinking of all those children and families in different parts of the world - sometimes in impossible conditions - trying to get their play on during these difficult times.