The pandemic through the eyes of a 9-year-old

Conner Bruton holds his coronavirus journal, in which he has chronicled life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo by Karen Allen

The pandemic through the eyes of a 9-year-old

By Karen Allen
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist

Last spring, Conner Bruton was enjoying life as a blue-eyed, tree-climbing, basketball-playing 9-year-old boy.

When the COVID-19 pandemic changed so much around him, he began keeping a journal that records a timeline of events.

His grandmother thought the journal could serve as a learning tool. Now she recognizes that it can also serve as a historical keepsake.

“It was a way to continue working on the 3 R’s (reading, writing, ‘rithmetic) with schools closed,” said Margaret Cox, Conner’s permanent legal guardian whom he calls Mom. “Sometimes I would assign a topic; sometimes I didn’t. Punctuation and grammar [are] checked on occasion, but the content is all Conner’s.”

Through his eyes

Many local churches canceled their first service the day before Conner began writing. Shelves were being emptied by people flocking to the grocery store. A feeling of panic and fear was beginning to pervade communities.

In the sporadic entries from March 16 through Sept. 30, Conner’s simple words represent the feelings of so many.

  • March 16 — China said the coronavirus started from an animal, but some people like me think that a China lab created it. Everyone stocked up on food and toilet paper because they knew they were going to have to stay home for a long time.
  • March 19 — The coronavirus has been spreading. There have been (at least) 9,385 deaths in the world. My mom had to go to two grocery stores, and she said there was no toilet paper in either store. Almost everyone is in their home. I think that after five days everybody will want to see someone other than their parents.
  • March 20 — I wish I could be at the park playing with my mom and dad. Something else I would do would be playing at the playground at my church. I would also go to church. These are some things I would rather do than be stuck at home!
  • March 30 — Life with COVID-19 is really stressful. My mom has taken up watercolor painting, so I get to see beautiful pictures. Dad does not have much time for anything because of his work. This is the life of COVID-19.
  • March 31 — There are only 12 days until Easter. I love Easter because there is chocolate and more importantly, Jesus rose again! This will definitely be a different Easter.
  • April 2 — COVID-19 is so bad! I hate it! All I have been doing is school, watching TV, playing games and playing outside.


  • April 3 — I am thankful that no one in our family has COVID-19. I am also thankful that my dad can work from home. Something else I am thankful for is technology (computers, cell phones, FaceTime). Fourth, I’m thankful for my mom. Without her, I would not be able to learn during the massive outbreak of coronavirus.
  • June 15 — I went to the beach. It was very different. My whole family could not come, so I got my own bed. This year we could not go to any store so I could not get a souvenir.
  • July 15 — Pandemic mountain vacation. This is the first time I’ve ever been to the mountains. It was very fun! I went on hikes and saw waterfalls. We even got to go in a store!


A touching addition to Conner’s journal was the day he decided to clean out his toys in the basement.

  • July 17 — Today, I got all my toys from the basement and put them in boxes saying “free.” I got a chair and whenever a car came by, I would wave a sign that said free stuff. I got lots of customers, and some gave me tips! I gave the tips to the children’s hospital.

Obviously, this young man has a compassionate heart, but it doesn’t stop with toys. He also gives thought to the spiritually needy.

  • Aug. 4 — Why do I think God allowed the pandemic? I think He allowed it because so many people did not believe in God. Also, there was starting to be too much sin in the world. That’s why I think God allowed COVID-19.

The journal came in handy a time or two for school assignments. When asked about remote learning, Conner had this to say:

  • Aug. 16 — Remote learning is a good fit for me. First, I will not be exposed to COVID-19 and neither will my family. Second, we don’t have to get up as early! Third, I get to sit in a comfy chair. Finally, I get the best teacher ever!
  • Sept. 30 — It’s Wednesday, and there’s still COVID-19.

Conner’s diary notes the highs and lows of living through a pandemic, and though a child, Conner expresses feelings most of us have experienced.

“I wish [the coronavirus] would have stayed in China. I had to celebrate my [10th] birthday differently,” he said. Cox quickly added that Conner’s birthday prompted the family to go to several places in Alabama they would not have otherwise gone.

‘It’s not fun’

Cox also said Conner has used some of his time during the pandemic to memorize Scripture.

But Conner misses playing with his friends like he used to.

Of the pandemic, he said, “It’s not fun.”