Credit: Photo from Stephanie L. Liberatore

(Editor’s note: This essay is part of Bethesda Beat’s Coronavirus Chronicles personal essay series. Visit the submission page to learn more.)

Like many parents, my husband and I are working full-time from home while taking care of our children. Ours are 4 and 1.

The first week their day cares were closed, my husband and I made a plan, rotating who worked in the morning and who worked in the afternoon.

Our kids don’t have to Zoom with their classes every day or submit work remotely, so we decided that whoever wasn’t working would take the kids on an “outdoor adventure” each morning after breakfast.

We load up the stroller with snacks, water and my daughter’s new fishing pole, and take the kids to the trail that runs along Sligo Creek.

Our goal for these adventures is to find something new.


The first week, we discovered a path we’d never noticed before that led to a “beach” along the creek that my daughter can fish from in her water shoes. The next day, we discovered a “lake,” which is really a retaining pond, with ducks and a tall set of stone steps that lead out into the woods.

We found a stormwater drainage ditch that my daughter can safely climb down to catch weeds. New trail markers we’d never noticed before. And a field off a cul-de-sac we’d never played on.

Sometimes, I worry that what we’re doing isn’t rigorous enough for my curious 4-year-old.


We’re reading to her (and her brother) every day, like we always do, of course. But we aren’t drilling letters or flashcards or doing elaborate craft projects. We aren’t running our house like a school.

But on those outdoor adventures each morning, I breathe in the fresh air. I watch my daughter cast her fishing pole and my son point at the ducks.

And I tell myself it’s good enough.


Stephanie L. Liberatore is an English professor at George Mason University. She lives in Silver Spring.

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