For months, she didn’t meet anyone. Her entire world was Mommy, Daddy, and her big brother. Slowly, we all started to come out of our shells as socially distanced outdoor activity commenced. She was fascinated by the outside world, and I kept thinking how much like Rapunzel she must feel, having been stuck inside of her tower. While we were so happy that she met some new friends, no one could hold her or even get within three feet of her until vaccines became available.
Suddenly, she was experiencing a whole new world – hugs from new people, enrolling in outdoor music classes, and even the dreaded babysitter while Mom and Dad finally ventured out alone!
Even with all of those wonderful things, travel was still iffy, and our immediate family lives 3,000 miles away in California. Her aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents have yet to meet her. While she delights at their presence via FaceTime, she has never been held by her paternal grandmother or the aunt with whom she shares her middle name.
My daughter will be 18 months old in two weeks, and we are finally making that trip to California. Our pandemic baby will be making her first big trip, and we have no idea what to expect. We bought her a bucket hat with an attached face shield but have no idea if she will keep it on her head. We know that she recognizes Gaga’s face on a screen, but will she let her hold her in real life?
We are also approaching the two-year mark when she will be expected to wear masks in public. I never in a million years thought that my pandemic baby would ever have to deal with that, but that reality is right around the corner. She is officially graduating from baby bystander to a responsible member of her community, doing her part to keep those around her safe. I now have a pandemic toddler.
Experiencing this surreality through the eyes of our babe has been mind-blowing. I can only hope that she starts to know a bit more of the world that existed before her arrival. I hope that there are tons of playground hugs, sharing toys, and plane rides in her future.
In the meantime, I will continue to be in awe of the skills my Pandemic Toddler has learned – she knows when people are smiling behind masks, she is an expert at video chatting, and she knows how to do “the Zoom goodbye.” Next up, baby elbow bumps.