The Morning Call (Sunday)
COVID-19 risks create friendship fracture
DearAmy: We have had a small group of close-knit friends for several years who we essentially do everything with.
All of our kids play together, even though they go to different schools.
Our kids don’t have the option of online learning, and are attending in-person school. Theirs are home. Because of this, the families have been staying apart. It’s been emotionally hard on us. We have missed them and can’t help but feel left out since we can’t join any of their group activities.
In October, when I included a couple sentences in a group email about our son playing soccer, I received a very angry/ upset email reply.
I was told how much hearing this news upset my friend, because they have kept their kids home without any outside activities.
She said she didn’t want to hear anything about my kids’ activities.
I apologized, but since then she has ghosted me.
Are we being socially irresponsible? We made the decision on soccer because all the kids in my son’s class were signed up. We decided the risk of exposure was fairly low.
But, regardless of what our comfort level is with exposure risk for our own family, is it irresponsible to take any risks (big or small) in the context of the overall social impact of possibly spreading this disease?
I think that is ultimately why my friend is so mad at us. We try to minimize exposure outside the home and we wear masks everywhere, but obviously we haven’t been isolating to the same degree as some.
— Lonely and Ghosted
Dear Lonely: You seem to believe that your friend is judging you as being socially irresponsible for having your son engage in activities that his school has deemed safe.
I don’t interpret her reaction the same way. She is sequestered with her children. This is such a tender time, surely you can imagine that your relative privileges make her sad about her family’s situation.
It reminds me of the time I was feeling particularly trapped and lonesome (due to work, personal obligations and financial limits). Someone I really love kept posting photos of their wonderful extended trip to the Amalfi Coast.
In that case, I could “hide” these postings until I was feeling less sensitive and more expansive. In the case of a group email, the recipient can’t excise the lines that make her so envious and sad.
And now let us try to acknowledge one another’s tenderness the way we feel our own and respond with compassion.
I suggest that you keep in touch with your friend. Try to reestablish your previous friendly contact. She and the kids might enjoy receiving letters sent through the mail.
DearAmy: Like many, I’m eagerly awaiting my turn for the COVID-19 vaccine. But I’m faced with an ethical/moral dilemma.
I’m in a high-risk category, over 65, obese, with high blood pressure (under good control with medication). That will probably put me pretty high up on the vaccine list.
I’m very fortunate in that I have a job where I work from home and can access groceries and other necessities via pickup or delivery. In other words, except for occasional doctor visits, I don’t have to go out.
Do you think it’s right for me to get a vaccine as soon as I’m eligible? I absolutely think health care workers should get vaccinated ASAP. But what about the people who work in grocery stores, or restaurants, or other places? Is it right for me to get in line in front of them?
DearWrestling: If you have extremely limited contact with others, then it seems most ethical for you to wait for a vaccine. I’m hoping that with wide distribution, this choice might not be necessary.
DearAmy: “Sugar Mama” didn’t like her boyfriend’s fiscal irresponsibility. When my wife and I married, we established three checking accounts: Ours, His, Hers. We each deposited equally to “Ours” and it was used to pay all joint and household bills.
Neither of us was allowed to question how the other used their (small) personal account.
— Happily Married 30 Years
DearHappily Married: This was basically my suggestion to “Sugar Mama.”
Copyright 2020 by Amy Dickinson