There seems to be a lot of debate about when our lives will, or should, go back to normal. Protesters are feeling like prisoners who are forced to stay inside their homes, while other seemingly more responsible Americans are voluntarily staying indoors to protect themselves and those they care about. I’m sure these types of conversations permeate most households, but here in my new abode, different debates are much more intense, at least to a 5-year-old.

The other morning Mr. Carter woke up with a puzzled look on his face.

“Mama?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“Who is faster? Santa Claus’s sleigh, Sonic, or Flash?”

I had to think for a moment, since I’ve made it a habit never to dismiss my son’s musings.

I finally answered, “I’d have to say Santa, since he visits every single house on the planet in one night.”

My son looked at me with a blank expression, as if already challenging my choice.

“But, Mama,” he said. “Remember that half the Earth is sunny and half the Earth is dark.”

In other words, Mr. Carter was suggesting that Santa has a full day on Christmas Eve to get the job done, meaning he’s not as fast as the others.

What I love about being quarantined with a young man like him are these very conversations. The fact that the first thing he was concerned about when waking up was who would win a race between characters (spoiler alert) who don’t exist in the real world. He is at an age when imagination is taking flight, and the most serious question he asks me on a given day is whether or not we can play a live version of Pac-Man around our kitchen island. This is more real to him than what’s going on outside, and I’m happy to join him on that journey.

I sense an impatience and cabin fever among the healthy in our world, a dangerous combination when battling an unknown entity like COVID-19. Feeding off insecurity and negativity will only lead to panic and poor decisions, and death for the most unfortunate among us. I understand the worry over money and our economic recovery, but to simply piecemeal a reaction to our current situation rather than study historical similarities and create modern strategies could have catastrophic results. It can be quite stressful for me to see how our lack of leadership points us into that reactionary category, and there are days I just can’t watch the road for fear of what we’ll crash into.

I try to stay away from the news as much as I can, since no one really has a solid answer to what we should do … or has the courage to make sure it gets done. My ability to feed off the curiosity of a little boy has been a godsend, and the main thing I’ll remember about this time in my life. Like his follow-up to the speed debate:

“Mama, do Santa Claus and God have a birthday?”

I’m afraid I was stumped at that one.

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