T+ L India reader Sharmila Sil, a retired lawyer, lives in Scarsdale, New York, next door to New Rochelle, one of the first areas to be hit by COVID-19. In an exclusive interview with us, this mother of two tells us what the lockdown has been like for her, and how her children (aged nine and 11) have reacted to the situation. By Bayar Jain
1. What were your first thoughts when the lockdown was put in motion?
We follow the news quite closely, so we felt a lockdown was imminent. Our first thoughts were to keep the family quarantined and safe, as well as stock up on supplies as soon as possible.
2. Tell us about the ground reality that you are witnessing there during the lockdown. Are there any challenges that you are facing?
Things in our area are very quiet. The streets remain empty. People do go out for walks but everyone maintains distance. To go inside any store, masks are mandatory. Stores close much earlier now. There are obviously no restaurants to go out to eat but many are still offering delivery and we try our best to support them during this time. Our norms, both social and within the home, have changed vastly. While having my kids home all day is great, it does bring a unique set of challenges in making sure that they adjust to the new norms in positive ways. It’s not easy for them to not be able to see their friends in person or play soccer, but that just means we have to find new and different ways for them to remain social and engage in sports.
3. As a family of four, how has your life changed during the lockdown? How do you keep your children occupied?
Our life has changed quite dramatically as we are all home now. We spend much more quality time together. Working and homeschooling at the same time can be a challenge, but like all families, we are making the best of it. The children stay occupied with their school work, puzzles, games, and electronics. We take them out when the weather is nice. We will scooter around the block or play in the yard to get some fresh air.
4. How did you explain the situation to your children?
We explained the virus to the children and helped them understand that while they don’t need to be scared, we all need to take precautions for our safety and for the safety of others. They have handled the lockdown really well. Fortunately, modern technology allows them to keep in touch with family and friends.
5. How is the government handling the pandemic?
While the pandemic as a whole has obviously been very bad globally, on a local level here in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo is doing a great job of keeping the state informed every day and trying to get everything the state needs to continue fighting the pandemic. Currently, the numbers in New York, while still not great, are starting to trend downwards so hopefully, that trend continues.
6. Where would you like to travel to once this situation settles down?
Uncertain times like these really remind you how important family is. So, first on our list would be a trip to Florida to see my family.