- Yes, I checked Target
- No, not going to Wal-Mart
- No, I will not try to make it
Where Is the
A Parenting Pandemic Must
While every other rando on Twitter and podcasts is lamenting store shelves bereft of King Arthur or yeast cakes, every parent on my block is wondering where in the fresh hell has all the sidewalk chalk disappeared to.
I’m a planner by nature. One might say a hardcore overfunctioner in the face of stress. And there’s no stress like a global pandemic, so your girl had a list of junk required to keep the kids entertained. (I’m always the mom who is foisting chalk and bubbles off on the kids to steal a few minutes of grown-up chat with the neighbors, so this is my jam.)
But the pandemic hit while Chicago was still getting snow here and there. So I figured that two big boxes of the good stuff, the Crayola stuff, would see us through for a month. SO I FIGURED. As we enter month two of this slow-moving worldwide tragedy, I’m down to a few nubs of the worst colors. The grey, the beige, that weird green that reminds me of the worst flavor of antacids.
And I’ve looked—oh, how I’ve looked. The nabes and I were just asking each other, “Did you look at Wal-Mart?” “I don’t want to go to Wal-Mart.” “Wait, there’s that Wal-Mart pick-up location now so you don’t have to go into Wal-Mart.” Wal-Mart’s out of chalk, gang. It doesn’t even matter. All the office-supply stores. The teacher stores. Even this one weird site that supplies churches and vacation Bible schools? Out.
What are we all doing with the chalk? At least on our block, it’s mostly about the hopscotch. The kids spend hours (to them, anyways, that’s more like 12 parent minutes) making elaborate hopscotch deals that they’ll cycle through a few times. Mostly, it’s grownups on their fifth dog-walk of the day hopping through them, getting those steps in, falling into what is clearly a trap planned by the children.
Then there are those upbeat messages. The ones that seem trite, but when you’re jogging down the block in a mask and pause to check traffic at the corner, they make you burst out into tears. Hallmark-y ones that hit us right in the gut nowadays because everyone’s a GD raw nerve. And the messages of hope and thanks scratched on the asphalt for the nurses, the doctors, the postal carrier, the Amazon person. I feel like everyone is so abundantly thankful right now. And the chalk makes the day.
But we’re also writing really stupid knock-knock jokes just to break up the damn monotony of sadness and mask-wearing and gut-clenching uncertainty. If you can’t laugh at “Coronavirus who? Coronavirus stinks!” then you’re doing it wrong. We’re all trying, trying, trying to stay vigilant for each other, for the kids. And the kids are grieving joy, without either the context or vocabulary to really express it.
So, JFC, someone start stocking the chalk again.