That spring, in a special meeting, the City Hall decided that swings, and slides, and monkey bars should no longer be touched.
“This virus is too dangerous”, said one City councillor. “It lives on all surfaces. Kids put their hands in their mouths all the time, they rub their eyes, sneeze, and don’t cough in their elbows! They will carry this virus everywhere!”
“It’s true the virus lives on all surfaces, but kids need to be able to slide and swing and hang onto monkey bars, we don’t want them in front of the TVs all day, do we?” asked the Mayor.
“Maybe they can wash their hands with soap and water for at least 90 seconds, we heard that’s the most efficient way to get rid of the virus”, replied another councillor.
“Little kids can’t tell time; they have no idea what 90 seconds mean!” shouted the first one.
“They could sing “Happy Birthday” three times while washing their hands”, suggested another councillor, who was a mom and knew a lot more about kids than the first councillor.
“I’m telling you; they will never do it properly and then they will go outside and touch everything on the playground and the virus will spread. They will bring the virus in their homes and get everybody sick. For sure, it will be a disaster! Playgrounds must be closed!”
“Let’s close all playgrounds! Better safe than sorry!” decided the Mayor, whose kids were already grown-ups, could tell time, and knew how to sneeze in their elbow.
So, all the playgrounds were closed. You could still walk in the park on the trails, but there were yellow tapes surrounding the swings and fluttering in the wind from the monkey bars. The slides were blocked, too. People could sit on the grass or on the big rocks that could be found here and there in the park. But even the benches were off-limits.
There wasn’t much to do at the park, except for walking and walking and walking… But kids don’t really want to walk. They want to run and climb on slides and swing on monkey bars and push themselves as high as the sky when they go on the swings.
One afternoon, as Joy and Jay were walking in the park – again – they saw a kite flying over the field by the school.
They had kites too, in the garage, by the door, not one kite, but two, with big, colourful wings and long, long tails and enough string to lift them up to the clouds if they wanted to.
“Come on, Jay, let’s get our kites out!” said Joy.
But Jay didn’t want to fly kites with her younger sister. Jay thought she was too old to fly kites.
“That’s OK, Joy,” Mom said, “I would love to fly a kite with you!”
So, they went back home in a hurry, took the kite and ran back to the field, to make the most of the last rays of the sun.
That day, the wind was perfect for flying kites. Joy and her mom had a great time with the beautiful butterfly kite, with long tails and enough string to lift it up to the clouds.
“Can I hold the string now, Mom?” asked Joy.
“Sure, Joy, just don’t get it too close to the trees, you don’t want it to get tangled.”
Mom handed Joy the spool with the string and ran along, cheering her on.
At the other end of the field, another little girl was flying a kite with her dad.
“Don’t get too close to them, Joy, we have to keep our distance.” Mom warned Joy.
“I won’t get close, Mom, they need their space, too. There’s enough room on this field and in the sky for all of us.” the little girl answered.
“Look how high my kite got!” the other girl shouted across the field.
“I can get mine as high as hers”, Joy told Mom, “but I guess kites shouldn’t touch, either.”
“Well, you don’t want them to get tangled, do you? What if the wind blows them too close to each other?”
“No, I don’t, I just want to keep the kite flying. Maybe more kids will come out to fly their kites. It’s something that we can do together while keeping apart. I miss playing with my friends, Mom.”
“I am sure your friends miss you, too.”
“Do you think we will ever be able to play with other kids again?”
“I think so. But for now, it’s better to be safe than sorry. This too, shall pass, Joy. We will see our friends again and hug them again and you will soon be able to go on the swings and the monkey bars. The yellow tape is just temporary.”
“Maybe we can pretend the whole playground is a huge kite and the yellow tape is its tails and it got tangled and it can’t fly anymore,” said Joy, almost out of breath.
“We sure can. One day, the man from the City Hall will come and untangle all these yellow tails and the playground kite will be able to fly once again…” Mom kept Joy’s story going.
The sun was going down behind the hills. The kites flew in the sky until it got too cold to hold on to the string. But Joy was right, in the following days more and more kites could be seen above the field by the school. Some days Joy was flying her kite, other days she was just watching them. She was still waiting for the yellow tails that were tangled around the monkey bars to disappear.
Do you have a kite? Have you ever seen one flying in the sky? It’s not complicated at all. Go fly a kite with a friend, from a distance. It will be as if you were playing together while keeping apart.