Will this question become the 'new normal' for playdates and birthday parties?

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

"Would you like to catch up for a picnic at the park so the boys can kick a ball around? I am double vaccinated." 

The text from a fellow school mum was very welcome when it arrived yesterday morning - less than 24 hours after NSW Premier Gladys Berejikilian announced restrictions in my family's LGA were easing and now, like the rest of Sydney, we were free to catch up with a handful of friends outdoors. 

After a whole term of home-schooling, during which my nine-year-old son has missed his friends terribly, a playdate is exactly what he needs. 

So I replied that we would love to catch up, that "I'm fully vaxxed too" and we set a date.

I'm looking forward to the get together, but the exchange did cause me to pause for a moment and wonder about this 'new normal'. Will inquiring about fellow school parents' COVID-19 vaccination status become as common as asking whether their child has any allergies when organising playdates, birthday parties and any other get togethers in the future?

Most adults are aware how their close friends feel about vaccination, or are mature enough to broach the topic with people that are important to them.

Kids, meanwhile, make their decision about who to be friends with in the playground based on who likes playing handball with them at recess, not the vaccination status of  their playmate's parents. 

So what will happen when our child receives an invite to attend a birthday party or playdate from a new friend whose parents we don't know?

Will the invitee's parents inquire about the birthday boy or girl's parents' vaccination status before accepting or declining the invite? Or will the invite itself come with a provision that children are only welcome to attend if their parents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19?

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If so, how will parents, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, explain why some friends are not allowed to catch-up outside of the schoolyard?

Who knows? I'm not sure our city, state, or nation, is far enough down the road toward 'living with COVID-19' to know for sure how situations like this will unfold.

One thing is for certain though, the impact of a pandemic that has left so many families struggling financially and emotionally, and claimed the lives of more than 4.5 million people around the world, is not going to be forgotten just because our kids head back to classrooms and playgrounds.

Like face-masks, hand sanitiser and home-schooling - this new friendship rule may just become another part of the 'new normal' for kids growing up during the COVID-19 crisis.