THIS IS US

What I Learned About the Pandemic When My Kid Got Trapped in a Couch

We’ve all been stuck in some way or another

Nicole C. Kear
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readJun 7, 2021

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Photo: Mitchell Gaiser/Unsplash

Last summer, my eight-year-old got trapped inside a couch. Under the couch, technically, in its undergirding. It was complicated, the way scenarios involving children often are, especially in the middle of a pandemic.

See, this is a story about a kid in a couch, but it is also an allegory.

It was August, a time when, normally, our family of five would be undertaking epic summer adventures, casting off from Brooklyn to shores unknown. But like everything else — school, sleepovers, birthday and holiday celebrations — summer adventures had been canceled. Both of our attempts to visit my husband’s family down South had been foiled because of Covid, and we hadn’t planned on seeing my parents-in-law until the pandemic was under control — maybe later in the year. And then came a terrible loss. My father-in-law died from the heart and kidney issues he’d been living with for a long time. And suddenly, for the worst possible reason, we were driving in Tennessee.

Grief cast its dark shadow over our days. The terror of Covid, which had only recently begun to ravage the South, was constant. We could not hold a funeral. Our kids were scared to hug their cousins. Yes, we had broken free of the confines of our tiny apartment, but we were trapped, still, by so much fear and loss.

One day, toward the end of the trip, my eight-year-old daughter was playing in my mother-in-law’s living room, the crown jewel of which is a La-Z-Boy double-seater. It has two mammoth recline-optional chairs connected with an ample middle section that functions as a dual armrest with cup holders. For simplicity’s sake, let’s call it a couch.

What you need to know about my daughter is that she is rail-thin and highly flexible. She is also irrepressibly curious and prone to acting first and thinking later. Take one impulsive contortionist, add a…

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Nicole C. Kear
Human Parts

Author, Essayist, Professor of Writing // Books: Now I See You: a memoir; Foreverland; The Fix-It Friends series // www.nicolekear.com