Around the world, families are sheltering in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. But not all kids’ quarantine experiences are the same. In Spain, where the virus has taken an enormous toll, kids weren’t allowed to leave their homes for 43 days, from mid-March until April 26.
Now that children may take daily one-hour outings, within about a half-mile of their homes, several kids in Spain shared their thoughts and experiences living through this challenging time.
“I felt like I got the keys to my cage,” said Teal Chandler, 12, who lives in an apartment with her family in Barcelona and has been pet-sitting a spotted gecko named Spike during the pandemic.
“The most I had gone out for six weeks was to take down the recycling,” and to run, below her apartment, in the underground garage that “smells like diesel,” she said.
Teal said she was taken aback by the changes in her neighborhood since her last outing.
“Now everything is different. People are wearing masks and gloves. There are special lines so you don’t bump into others. . . . Shops and restaurants are closed.”
Being stuck inside made Teal appreciate just being able to walk out her front door.
“You never realize how much time you usually spend outside, going to school, getting on a bus, having sleepovers with friends” until that freedom is taken away, she says.
Farther down the Mediterranean coast in Valencia, Sarah Bailey, 15, reports the long confinement has been “really boring.” The first thing Sarah did when she was allowed out was to walk to the little convenience store down the road.
“No one was out; it felt really eerie, like a super-scary zombie movie. But it felt really cool too, because I hadn’t been able to just walk outside for so long,” Sarah said. “When I heard I could go to the convenience store, I was way more excited than I thought I ever would be.”
Sarah’s big purchase: a pack of gum.
The Tasker family’s first excursion in Valencia on Sunday was a walk across a bridge and a field, then back home. Despite working out twice a day indoors, doing push-ups and other exercises during the six-week lockdown, Daniel Tasker, 12, found that “when you go out for the first time in ages, your legs feel weird and they hurt, because you haven’t been properly walking in ages.”
Jess Tasker, 11, said she first “felt a bit lazy from staying inside all these weeks.”
But once outside, she enjoyed “being in the fresh air and seeing something different than what’s outside the window, for a change,” Jess said.
Other kids said that, despite what the government allowed, they worried about leaving home.
Three brothers living in an apartment in Madrid, where the novel coronavirus has hit hardest, shared their family’s choice to remain inside for now.
“There’s no need to go out. There are still a lot of cases [of the virus], and the number can rebound,” said Pelayo Cosmen, 14.
While at first Pelayo thought being at home all the time was “kind of cool, a new experience,” after a couple of weeks, he said, “it started to feel repetitive and boring.”
Pelayo says he hopes they may be able to leave home by the end of May, “if we’re lucky.”
For now, he offered a few words of advice for other kids: “Be patient, and take care.”