Facebook Post of Rabbi Perlin in the Time of Coronavirus (5/29/2020)

Friday Post 5.29.20: Pink Poop Happens!

by Rabbi Amy R. Perlin, D.D.

Yesterday, I was the guest speaker in my granddaughter Miriam’s preschool class, via Zoom of course. I was invited, because they are studying the continents and this week was Antarctica.  The teacher was delighted to find out that someone related to the class had been there, and so I was asked to speak for ten minutes about my trip.  I worked hard on my presentation, channeling my inner preschooler, which is fine-tuned as I have six grandchildren from one to eight.  Preschool is in my wheelhouse.

I had pictures I took of adorable penguins, whale tails, walls of snow and ice 10,000+ years old, scientists we met who live there, and some vistas that make Antarctica look like another planet.  Yet, I knew that the class favorite would be the iceberg covered in penguin poop, and the fun fact that penguin poop is pink, because all they eat is fish.  After that photo, I had them in the palm of my hand.

I talked about how much I love the fact that penguins love their children and hug them all the time. I showed them Emperor penguins huddled together, and an entire group of penguins gathered close.  Then one four-year old raised his hand on the Zoom screen during questions, but didn’t ask a question at all.  He sweetly told me that penguins could be close together because the virus isn’t in Antarctica, and therefore, the penguins could hug.  Wow!

So, yesterday in preschool, I learned what I had always known, that poop is a popular preschool topic and that this pandemic is a reality for our kids.  They understand that they are living in a world where hugging is closely monitored and discouraged, and closeness happens only at home or on a computer screen.  Before my eyes, I saw my grandchild, her father, her classmates, their parents, the teachers and teaching aides living a new reality.  They are pandemic children living in a pandemic world — seeing grandparents through window glass, at a distance, or on Facetime, and living a new reality that will always be a part of their formative years.

On Monday, we went to have a barbeque with our DC kids.  We had masks, sat at a different table with different food and utensils, and kept 6+ feet away from our granddaughters. At one point, I said to little Ella who is 2 ½ and had spilled her drink on her shirt, which was promptly removed, “I want to kiss your belly!”  To which Miriam, her almost five-year old sister responded, “You can kiss her or get sick, your choice.”  It was so matter of fact, but filled with a wisdom beyond her years.  I want to kiss them so much, and their new normal is that hugs and kisses are dangerous, except for the penguins in Antarctica.

The year I went to college, the Three Degrees came out with the popular song, “When will I see you again?”  It then followed with the lyrics, “when will we share precious moments?”  My new lyrics are “When will I hug you again?”  Enforcing social distancing is necessary, and its cost is high.  But, not social distancing presents a cost that is even greater.  Many of the restrictions we have been living under end today, here in Virginia.  Just like penguins poop pink, people will run to malls and stores,  beaches and beauty shops.  After being stuck in the house for two months, people want to get back to life as it was before the restrictions.  I just want to be a penguin.  I want to hug and huddle close with my family and friends again.  I just can’t imagine a time in the near future when I will feel safe waddling on my iceberg without a mask.  I have no idea when the fear will go away.

And now a personal note:  With the lifting of the strictest stay at home order, I am returning to retirement, as I promised I would.  Yesterday, I taught my last class (11 in total!), and this is my last “official” pandemic post.  I started writing to help people get through this crisis, and I have written every single day (excluding Shabbat), since March 16th.  There is a book’s worth of writing that has been posted on my Facebook page and the Temple B’nai Shalom website.  Going forward, I will write when I have something to say, don’t worry.  But, the world is opening up and I need to get packing for our move to our new “iceberg.”

I thank you all, faithful readers, for staying with me through this lock down, and for your wonderful feedback.  Wishing you health, safety, a peaceful weekend, and connections that keep you sane.  Most of all, I pray that I will be able to hug as many of you as I can, when I can.

Shabbat Shalom.