Ben Trujillo hadn’t left his house in more than two weeks. “I had an eye doctor appointment,” he recalled. “It was before the official quarantine, so no one at the eye doctor’s was wearing a mask.”
“I went out to pick up a pizza with my dad like maybe a week ago,” his twin sister Natalie added. “We went through the drive-thru and the woman there was wearing gloves, I believe. And she was just, like, opening the window only to give you your food. All of this can be a little weird.”
The 11-year-olds had been thinking a lot lately about how much the world has changed recently.
“Not just for us, but for everyone,” Ben clarified. “First of all, we’re stuck inside because of this whole COVID-19 pandemic. The government has said we have to stay at home for the rest of the school year. It’s been a big change of gears.”
“Yeah, definitely,” Natalie agreed. “Especially since this was our last year of grade school, and we’re missing out on a lot of stuff.”
The pair were in sixth grade at Mercury Mine Elementary School, which shut down after spring break.
“We don’t get to do sixth-grade graduation, which is sad,” Natalie continued.
“Then, there’s another thing called the wax museum,” Ben added. “We were supposed to pretend to be people in history and pose like them, really still, then write a report about the person.”
Ben was planning to be someone cool, like Bill Gates, he said. Natalie had chosen Amelia Earhart, even though she disappeared and might be dead.
Virtual schooling wasn’t completely terrible, Ben thought. “It’s nice to work at your own pace,” he mused. “You can have lunch or a snack whenever you want to —”
“But we still have to wake up at 8:45 and have a meeting with our teachers,” Natalie pointed out. “We’re doing this thing called Google Classroom, where we get assignments and do the work and turn it in online.”
Ben was continuing his kung fu classes via Zoom, and Natalie was taking a virtual dance class. Their piano teacher Skyped in every Tuesday.
Sheltering at home was kind of like a weird summer vacation, Natalie had decided, one where you didn’t have to go to school but you couldn’t go anywhere else, either. “No museum or bookstore or hanging out with your friends,” she said.
“Instead of a play date with your friends, you have a Zoom call or a Facetime conversation,” Ben interrupted. “It’s nice to see them, but it’s a totally different thing —”
“— than interacting and talking and hanging out with them in some other place,” finished Natalie, who’s a full minute older than her brother, something Ben claimed she enjoyed reminding him.
There were, the Trujillos agreed, good things and bad things about sheltering at home.
“I’m not a morning person,” Natalie admitted, “so I like that I can sleep a little later because school is just in the other room at the dining room table. But not having recess, that’s bad.”
Ben was more circumspect about life under quarantine. “The positive thing is that you get to stay at home,” he felt. “And the negative thing is you have to stay at home. So it’s both, but I’m trying to think of more of the positive things.”
Sad thoughts sometimes snuck up on her, Natalie confessed. “Our last recess was on a rainy day, so they kept us inside,” she said. “I keep thinking about how we’ll never have a normal, go-outside grade school recess again.”
She was sorry professional basketball games have all been canceled and was trying not to think about how her school choir had planned to perform at a local baseball game that’s been postponed.
So far, Ben said, the twins haven’t gotten tired of being around their parents all the time. “No, yeah, we play nice. Our dad works from home now, and sometimes he’ll come out and just say, ‘Hey, be a little quieter.’”
“They’ve adapted really well,” Natalie said about her parents having to stay home. “Hopefully, we’re not driving them insane.”
Neither Trujillo was frightened by the pandemic, but both were certain the world would be a different place once the pandemic has passed.
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“For one thing,” Ben said, “people will go a little more germophobic to keep this from happening again. Everyone will be using Purell! They’ll wash their hands more, they’ll think about their health more.”
Natalie thought people would move away from stay-at-home activities. “Everyone will be so tired of watching TV and hanging out with family,” she explained. “I’m seeing more people taking walks and riding bikes. Theme parks will be more crowded for a while, because people will just want to be outside.”
Ben needed to think some more about how the world would be changed by a global health crisis.
“But I think there’s one thing we can count on,” he said. “Once this is all over, everyone in the world will definitely be happier about the good things they’ve got.”