Why the Mask Mandate Worked Well with My Lifestyle, and How We Celebrated the End of It (Includes Tylenol)

After corralling my kids to their bedtime showers the other night, I spent nearly thirty minutes policing my two boys about brushing their teeth.

I put Shayne to bed while I heard the sink running in what I’d assumed was surrendered compliance, and was surprised when I walked into their bedroom.

“Buddy, are you bleeding? Your elbow, and your knee, and-are you okay?”

“Oh. Yeah! I am a little, right there, and right there. Yep. I was just brushing my teeth, like you asked.” Two straight faces and knowing eyes.

“How did you start bleeding while you were brushing your teeth?”

“. . .”

“. . .”

“. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .”

“. . .okay. Get in bed.”

I was reminded that we’re out of Batman Bandaids, lest we should army crawl into sleeping Shayne’s room, where her dresser has been lovingly decorated by the entire box.

These are the scenarios in which I continue to adventure through the fully immersive experience that motherhood is.

Other highlights recently include:

Waking up each morning to one of two situations.

Shayne, our family’s self-proclaimed ONLY elevator button pusher, has groomed quite the strong index finger. That index finger slowly pokes me almost every morning with a one inch deep, one shot stab, and holds it for a few seconds, the way one does when trying to make the elevator door close faster.

Except, it’s my spine.

I roll over to disconnect from the finger, and every time, we repeat the same thing. “Hi, Sis. Did you get breakfast?”

Shayne stands stoic, exactly eye level with horizontal-me.

“Good morning. Shayne?”

 She engages in zero conversation until I ask if she wants to hop in my bed.

Only after receiving an invite, she reacts with exaggerated surprise. Every. Day. “OH! Mind if I snuggle on in!?”

It really is cute.

It’s also sweeter if I pretend I’m getting acupuncture.

If Shayne’s Popeye finger doesn’t find me first, Roscoe will wake me, informing me of my forty bazillion missed spammy phone calls. He’ll snag my phone before I’m awake, but return running, breathless, to hold my phone a few inches from my face. “Mama, a guy named Spam keeps calling. I think it must be an emergency.”

I’ve yet to figure out how to make that guy stop calling.

Nevada dropped its mask mandate.

It was a surprisingly emotional day.

Now, listen. For all the wrong reasons, I’ve never been a member of the anti-mask renegade. I know, I know: I’m the only person.

I thoroughly enjoyed the no makeup anonymity.

Add sunglasses and a hat, and I felt like that DJ, Marshmello. I thrived in this circumstance. Don’t worry about what I look like under here, or the last time I applied Chapstick. And, Gus, don’t you fret about your mom having to unexpectedly run into your school’s front office in reindeer pajama pants. You know why? ‘Cause know one knows who I am! No one knows you’re related to me.

Even as a previously VERY social person, I realized I quite enjoyed being an incognito trash ball. Shoot, I didn’t even have to say hi to anyone. Smile. Small talk. Nothing! No more hiding behind the aisle endcap of tortillas!

It was like being selectively invisible, which was always my most desired super power of choice. (It trumped flying, even…although that was more in part to some weather/humans-at-high-altitudes logistical concerns.)

My young kids paid nooo mind to masks. None. No problem. At best, they vaguely remembered life without them. They were young enough that pandemic protocol was their norm. Masks in my household were an all around non-issue, and a welcomed face, nose, or handwipe when needed.

Even so, I full-fledged sobbed when Nevada’s mask mandate ended.

I surprised myself (like most others in Las Vegas) being suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. When our governor made the announcement, my mouth dropped. Actually dropped. I received a text from my friend, Chelsea, on a giant salon group thread. I sat on my white couch (adorned with scribbles from our resident artist) while a Wheel of Fortune of emotions spun. I let myself have a moment to fully cry thinking of my boys, who, for the first time in two years, could sit in their classrooms and see faces. How odd to not see your peers’ faces, much less your teacher’s, for seven months.

Ice cream was in order after school. I’m not much of a crier, but I was teary again the next morning as my kids got dressed for their first day of mask-optional school. Was there some sort of streamer I should have ordered to decorate for this event?

Other parents must have felt the celebratory vibe, too, because there was a much larger school crowd than normal. Instead of the drop off lane, we all put on bras and actual pants to witness the historical event (I count all pajamas and sweats as actual pants, for the record), parked, and made the always-annoying trek to stand at the kindergarten gate. Several of us stood with tears, smiles, and morning hair, watching our kids run into the playground area…unmasked for the first time.

Something about it was reminiscent of the Netflix series Love is Blind, but I’d rather not be quoted on that.

We cheered and laughed, but on the ride home, the relief dissipated as I had a thought. A premonition. The very likely reality of the next several weeks may be acetaminophen-y.

I took a detour to Target to stock up on kids medicine, remembering that grape flavor chewables were 86’d at our house.

Judging by the current state of our household, I’m not sure if I nailed it, or completely missed the mark thinking generic Children’s Tylenol would cut it.

Reiterating again-I did not mind masks.

Apparently, it really discouraged other kids from “taking a turn” wiggling my kids’ loose teeth. Playground tooth roulette has since been addressed.

That brings us to current. Since we’re down to only a few bubble gum chewables before breaking out the old school liquids, I’m anticipating another long night.

Time to go pop another Red Bull in the fridge for morning before my tiny one-finger acupuncturist finds me way too soon.

Highly caffeinated beverages, by the way, would make a perfectly complimentary end cap to the children’s medicine aisle-both to ingest and to hide your now maskless, tired self behind.