What it’s like to be the kid of a health-care worker during COVID-19

Story by CBC Kids News • 2020-12-02 07:00

Kids of doctors, paramedics, nurses share their stories

Back when the COVID-19 pandemic began, seven-year-old Ysa Ma had a hard time watching his mom Nadia Alam — a doctor — head to the hospital every day.

One morning when things seemed particularly scary, he gave his mom a hug and said something that made her choke up a little.

“I said, ‘Mommy, please don’t die today,’ because I love my mommy.”

Throughout the pandemic, Ysa and his three siblings, Connor, 10, Sully, 9, and Freya, 5, who live in Georgetown, Ontario, have all dealt with their own fears about their mom getting sick.

From left, Ysa, Sully, Freya and Connor Ma say the hardest part of their day is when their mom leaves for work. (Image submitted by Nadia Alam).

At times, their mom has had to work 24-hour shifts in the hospital emergency room and sometimes doesn’t get home until the wee hours of the morning.

For Sully, he worries about the amount of time his mom spends with patients and people who’ve come in contact with the virus.

“My mom works with a bunch of people, and they’ve all treated people with COVID-19, and it’s hard and scary,” he told CBC Kids News.

Connor — the oldest of the bunch — also worried a lot at first about his mom getting sick.

“The first time she had to go away, to go work and take care of people during COVID-19, I felt scared. I didn’t want her to die,” he said. “But I also know she’ll be OK.”

Nadia Alam, right, said her kids, including Freya, left, have kept her strong and smiling during the pandemic. (Image submitted by Nadia Alam)

Regardless, their mom said the four have been “incredibly brave” and have kept her smiling throughout the pandemic.

And it’s their parents who keep them strong, too.

“My happiest moments are when my mom and dad come home,” said Sully.

My dad, a doctor, got COVID-19

Last week, 10-year-old Sophia from Kitchener, Ontario, went to get a COVID-19 test after showing symptoms.

Her dad, a doctor, also got a test, only to find out that he was positive and not her.

We’ve left Sophia’s last name out to protect the confidentiality of her father’s health information.

Sophia said that people showing support, through window signs and noise-making events, really makes a difference to health-care workers like her dad.

For Sophia, her dad’s positive result was the hardest moment she’s had to face so far during the pandemic, since it’s been a big worry for her over the last eight months.

“Whenever he shows signs of sickness or when he has a lot of COVID cases that day, then I get worried.”

Now that he’s tested positive, she and her family have had to quarantine, and her dad has had to stay alone in his room separate from the rest of the family.

“I can’t see him a lot,” she said. “[He] has to social distance and wear a mask when he comes out. During dinner, we have a Zoom call with him.”

On the bright side, she said she’s proud of her dad and is relieved that he seems to be doing OK with mild symptoms.

But for the sake of her dad, she said she hopes people remain diligent about COVID-19 safety.

“Obviously social distancing and wearing a mask is important,” she said. “Try as best as possible to protect other people and not just yourself.”

‘It’s real,’ says kid whose parents are paramedics

Nine-year-old Ty Martin, whose parents are both paramedics in Waterloo, Ontario, also worries a lot about both his parents getting sick.

Throughout the pandemic, Ty Martin’s parents have been working opposite hours, meaning one of them is always home, but one of them is also always facing possible exposure. (Image submitted by Carly Martin)

“Mom goes to work at six, then works from seven until seven. When she leaves, I’m nervous she’ll come home with a runny nose or cough, and for dad it’s the same,” he said.

When his mom showed some symptoms last week, Ty said he “was feeling a little nervous” about being around his mom and had to think carefully about how to move around the house.

Thankfully, his family all tested negative the next day.

Ty said he and his younger brother Beckett are tighter now than ever, since they’ve had to rely on each other and stay strong for their parents. (Image submitted by Carly Martin)

But aside from his family, Ty said he also worries about some kids at school who, at the beginning of the school year, said that COVID-19 wasn’t real.

“I was kind of feeling like, frustrated, that their parents were convincing them COVID wasn’t real, and I was kind of scared for them.”

Because of his parents’ job, Ty said he “knows that it’s real” and he said he hopes people take it more seriously now than ever so that his parents stay safe.

Mom is exhausted

Ten-year-old Gabe Tallon-Dyck from Lafleche, Saskatchewan, has a mom who works as a nurse in long-term care.

Gabe said he has “missed her being gone, but if she’s helping people not get COVID, then that’s good.”

Lately, Gabe said he notices his mom is exhausted all of the time because of the workload, which sometimes includes 24-hour shifts. It makes him nervous that it could make her more susceptible to the virus, especially because she’s diabetic. (Image submitted by Holly Tallon)

He was most worried about her a few months ago when she started showing symptoms, because he realized what it could mean for the people she works with.

“I was thinking, what if she actually did have COVID and spread it to all the old people in the health centre?”

Thankfully she tested negative, but Gabe said he wants people to know “that COVID is a really serious thing and it’s dangerous to front-line workers.”

Kids Help Phone

Feeling upset or stressed out? If so, Kids Help Phone is here to help. You can call them at 1-800-668-6868 any hour of the day to talk to a mental health professional. 

TOP IMAGE CREDIT: submitted by Carly Martin, Nadia Alam, and Holly Tallon

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