We’ve been socialising a lot – considering how strange a phenomenon it is these days. We drive from our rural home to an urban lunch date in Auckland. Pre-Covid, if your kid had the sniffles before a playdate, it was generally polite to ask the other parents’ permission to mingle. My husband always says yes and I always hesitate - I don’t like looking after sick kids. It’s super stressful. A few weeks ago, when I felt a bit peaky and Theo had the sniffles, I thought it even more prudent to confirm with the other family before coming over. They said it was fine and that their son also had a runny nose.
Six weeks later and it seems like every one in North Auckand has a runny nose and tickle in their throat. We’ve passed ours around within the family a few times already. It’s winter here and most houses have no heating so it makes sense that we’d also all wake up a little drippy as we wait for the sun to warm things up. If you have kids in school, then it’s even more normal to expect them to get sick – potentially a lot.
But what is normal these days? Getting a cold used to be a huge bummer but now, it is strangely exciting. It’s a luxury. It shows that we as a family, as a community, as a country can freely share germs without fear. We can be “normal”.
When I mention the stress of having three sick kids over the phone to my brother, who is in rural New Hampshire, he says “oh, to be able to catch a common cold.” In these conversations, I realise how lucky we are to be here and how strange our daily life sounds to people outside of New Zealand. I feel silly worrying about some benign clear liquid running from Astrid’s nose. When I ask their teacher if I can bring them to preschool, she says of course. They’re fine.