After getting her own phone last year for her birthday, she has spent more time discovering things for herself than in past years. It’s something that I had written about before, and likely something I’ll write again next year, but this year really was a step up from a year ago.
If past me had only known what was going to happen in 2020. It was a tough year for everyone, but I sympathize with the school aged kids. The kids who were home-schooled beforehand were much better prepared for what was going to happen this year than the ones attending school in person. One of the benefits for being away from the school for so long (and other kids in general) was the ability to discover more about themselves. Perhaps this is only true for kids who, like Kylie, were in the later years of elementary school or early years of middle school.
Let’s back up a bit though.
The year started as most years begin: a birthday party. Since Kylie’s birthday is December 31st, planning a party to happen the weekend closest to the birthday is next to impossible because of how many people are out of town or otherwise busy. Instead of a party with a bunch of kids this year, Kylie decided to have a sleepover party at a hotel with a waterslide inviting a few of her closer friends.
Quick aside: no, I did not have to chaperone this party, thankfully.
From all measures, it seemed to be a great success. The girls even lucked out with a hockey tournament happening that weekend and had the pool full of other boys from outside Kelowna. Needless to say, this was the year of the crush.
Spring break began as normal with a building hum surrounding COVID-19 and school closures. Alberta had announced their school closures prior to their spring break, but British Columbia did not announce anything until the last week of spring break. Parents were able to mentally prepare for the shift, but the kids weren’t fully aware of COVID until the last week when Kylie mentioned that she had heard a bit about it in school.
During the first few weeks of spring break, everything was going to plan with little closures happening in the city or other precautions like mask wearing in public or hand sanitizer being available. After the schools were closed, things started to close around the city and the precautionary measures were in place. My mom had made some masks for us, so Kylie was ready soon after the masks were recommended.
I don’t think she was fully prepared for the school from home though. Once that started in early April (BC decided to have children be home-schooled for April and May then returned to the schools for June, while other provinces cancelled school completely), it opened up another set of challenges and a whole new set of words to be aware for her: social distancing, masks/face-coverings, mandatory, bubble, and, most importantly, Zoom.
Zoom was something I had been aware of and used periodically for work, but it opened up a whole new set of challenges for Kylie. How to connect to the meetings, Zoom etiquette, and the style of the meetings. With Kylie’s class (grade 5), the meetings started 15 minutes early for the kids to chat, and then the class discussion/teaching for the next hour. I thought there would be more discussion happening when the kids were able to talk, but they were pretty quiet. It caught me off guard because in the classroom when I grew up, the discussion was almost more lively before class than during class.
The homework during these weeks of being at home were rather minimal, which meant a lot of empty time to fill for us both. Work was still rather busy for me, so this was a challenge. Thankfully, Kylie is self-sufficient with keeping herself busy. This was a time of transition. Last year, she spent most of her time in the living room, or in my room; this year, she started an increasing amount of time in her room. I think the catalyst was partially a few of the Christmas gifts she received a year ago, the Amazon Echo Dot and LED light strips, but also my growing impatience with listening to the Zoom calls with her class and then discussions with her friends through phone calls, FaceTime, and Facebook Messenger Kids.
The time spent in her room was grown from a few hours to basically coming out to eat or use the bathroom. From open bedroom door all day, to closed door for the better part of the day when home. I can still hear her music, her talking with friends, or the changing LED lights so at least I know she’s alive in there.
With this extra time without school came some other changes. James Charles and Jefreestar (gay makeup/influencer YouTubers) became much more prevalent in the house. “Hey Sisters,” is James Charles’ line at the start of all or most of his videos. When he started hyping his merch- sorry, merchandise- Kylie was itching to get some. It was launching at noon on a specific day. Kylie brought out the iPad 15 minutes before hand and was sitting on the website, refreshing it often in hopes of getting access to the store before the other 25 million fans could. Sure enough, at noon, the store went live with the new merchandise, and Kylie was able to buy one of the hoodies ($80 USD!)
How was a ten year old able to afford that? In my birthday post, I wrote about my adventures as a food courier. Kylie actually worked with me on several shifts on the weeks she was with me. Of course, she couldn’t come into the restaurants or deliver the food, but she did help me navigate the city and help look for the house numbers. “We gotta match!” she would excitedly announce for the first while, which soon changed to disappointment a month later when some of the orders were only for $7.50. Kylie earned the courier fees, I took the tips to cover the gas. It was like being paid to be a parent. Her grasp of the city layout, how income and expenses work with a business, and, I think most importantly, the value of her time, grew exponentially in the summer months of working with me.
Her money working with me not only bought her the James Charles hoodie, she was also able to buy herself AirPods. I was glad she found things of value to buy rather than spending it on candy or other things that would go to waste quickly.
There were two other major things that Kylie spent time with this year. One was TikTok, which I have heard about, but the other was a brilliant game called Among Us. TikTok is fairly well-known at this point, an app for sharing short videos, which also allows you to duet with a video (think split-screen with the other video) and quite a bit of creativity. TikTok dances are a thing, with names like Renegade, Savage, and Savage Love. If you pay attention, you will notice kids from 10-22 filming them in all settings, and definitely will notice the girls practicing their dance moves any chance they get.
Admittedly, there are some pretty fantastic TikTok videos that have been shared by Kylie and that I have seen on other social media. It’s also creating new a trend of TikTok celebrities- not that I could name any besides Kylie’s favourite, Charli D’Amelio.
Among Us is a well-done game on various devices. The basic premise is you are part of a crew on a spaceship, but one of the crew members is an imposter. The other crew members going around trying to complete tasks to repair the ship, the imposter goes around trying to sabotage the ship and kill crew members. The fun part of the game comes in the emergency meetings that can be called by anyone, including the imposter, to announce that a body has been found. There is a short meeting where people can chat about what they have discovered, which usually involves a lot of short text with the most famous phrase being, “[colour/name] is sus.” Meaning, they’re a suspect. The leading vote getter, innocent or not, is jettisoned off of the ship. If the crew is correct, they win, if not, the remainder play on. It’s certainly a fun game, quick to play, and especially fun when the imposter is good at wrecking havoc with the crew members and making them turn on each other.
The one great thing about Among Us is you can create private games with codes to invite people you know to play. Throughout the summer, Kylie played with friends from school. While they played, they had video chats happening on another device, which I thought was partially cheating, but who is to say the other people weren’t doing the same thing?
Needless to say, this year was quite a bit different for us. Kylie was able to visit my sister and her family in Delta in September, a bit of a break from a summer spent at the pool and walking around outside (it’s a tough life in Kelowna). It was difficult to come up with other things to do with facilities either closed or severely limited with their occupancy. Walks to Gyro Beach (and then Marble Slab for ice cream) or along the downtown waterfront (and then Amore Mio for gelato) were pretty common on the weeks she was with me. She had a few weekends camping with her mother at Nakusp hot springs or Okanagan Mountain Regional Park which included a lot of boating, which helped break up the summer for her.
School returned in September as usual, a bit different from the previous year, but the kids had a trial during the month of June to help adjust to the new protocols for the province and the school. No masks required, but staggered recesses and being grouped with another class in a particular zone were required. Things were going pretty smoothly until early December. There was an email sent out late Thursday evening saying there had been a COVID exposure in Kylie’s class. Immediate homeschooling for the following week. This time, it went much more smoothly than the first few weeks of April, but still came as a quick surprise for all the families.
A different year overall, yes, but Kylie continues to be, as my Jennifer exclaimed after a visit in September, “So much fun! She’s adorable.” For a lot of us, it was considered a lost year, with the lack (or being out of) work and the major adjustments to our lifestyles. I think it was a year of growth for my daughter. It had its challenges socially without being able to visit friends much, but she did have a few sleepovers and playdates with friends in her class since they were in her bubble. The amount of self-discovery she did, the conversations she had with friends, plus navigating the challenges with drama (so much drama) with her friends, is quite staggering compared to when I was her age.
When I was about to turn 11, I had moved to Whitehorse from Regina the previous year, didn’t own a Walkman, didn’t listen to the radio, and the only conversations I had with friends were either at school or when I was at their house. In many ways, my daughter is so far advanced compared to when I was turning eleven. She could likely sing along to countless songs, definitely recognizes songs right away when they come on the radio or TikTok (the app of great music discovery for young people), plus her smarts within the city and society in general. She is quite confident navigating our large mall here on her own, and taking her debit card in to shop with a set budget.
In many respects, she is still in a kid; but in so many others, she isn’t. She has truly come into her own and grown in so many ways this year that this post of over 2,000 words still can’t quite convey. The coming year will be full of new challenges with us both, namely middle school starting next September.
I can’t wait to see what happens next. Happy birthday, Kylie.