Role Reversal


Growing up we were lucky enough to play outside until the street lights came on, we didn’t have a cell phone for our parents to call us, and if our parents wanted us to come home they’d either sit on the porch and wave us in as we took the corner on our bikes or call our friends house and their parents would kick us out to go home for dinner.

Spring break and summer days were spent using sidewalk chalk on our entire street (perks of living in suburbia where no one goes down your road unless they live on it), swimming in friends pools, jumping on trampolines and playing manhunt at night. Our parents would sit on the porch with the neighbors and chat while the kids played non-stop.
In the fall we would ride bikes, go on walks and play basketball in our driveway while my parents grilled and talked about their day. No matter where we were, our parents were always close by and always telling us to go outside and go play. Even in the winter, we would be outside building snowmen, making snow angels, or “helping” shovel. And by helping, I mean making more of a mess for our parents. We’d come in from a long day outside and warm up with some hot chocolate and play board games until someone flipped the board over or had a fit (that someone was normally me- the downside of being a younger sibling).
It was fun having parents who always encouraged you to go out and have fun. There was never a shortage of kids to play with or things to do in the neighborhood. But now, the roles have reversed. Now, we kids are telling our parents to stay inside. This is the way to stay healthy and when you have fiercely independent parents who are used to doing as they please, this can prove challenging.
My parents are used to seeing my kids multiple times a week and seeing their other grandkids daily. As a former educator and a former reporter, they like to be on the go as much as possible. But they’re also over 60, and both my sister and I have taken to daily check-in calls and insisting they don’t leave the house. See, it’d be a lot easier if my mom didn’t suffer from congestive heart failure and if my dad weren’t a diabetic. However, we are taking the instructions from the CDC very seriously, and it’s an odd role reversal from always being encouraged to go outside to demanding that everyone stay inside to stay healthy.

We know it won’t be like this forever, and we are looking forward to the days when we can be outside with friends and family members, grilling and going for walks without social distancing. But until then, we will be hunkered down and when this all passes over we will be buying the grandparents ice cream to apologize for the things we said under quarantine.