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Stuck at home, Bethel kids connect with each other through video

Health mandates to stay isolated are especially hard for Bethel residents, who pride themselves on being part of a close-knit community. With schools closed, some families are turning to video calls to get kids and parents connected again. Joining one of those calls shows that Bethel is as close as ever.

Two mothers straddle babies. In the background of one video, a pair of siblings launch exercise balls at each other. Six or so Bethel households are on a zoom video call so that the kids have a chance to see each other's faces. 

“Hi Emma, hi Payton,” one kid says.


They giggle. Sitting down for a conversation isn’t how kids normally interact, and they don’t have a lot to say, but they seem content to stare at familiar faces on the screen. One of the parents, Anny Cochrane, suggests that the families connect through online games.

“If anyone is super tech savvy and knows how we can compete [Nintendo] Switch to Switch, I’d be game to take on any other mom,” Cochrane said.

“You can!” Cochrane’s son said.

But as another parent found out, there are limits to how much you can do online, especially when you have a rural Alaska internet connection.

“GCI’s been working in our neighborhood for, like, two hours today,” said Becky Trimble in slow motion. “So my internet is super slow.”

Still, the families enjoy checking in with each other. They coo over newborns.

“Look at Thanos’ chubby cheeks! He’s growing too big and I can’t hold him,” Cochrane said. “This is so heartbreaking.”

They show off their kids’ haircuts, homemade of course.

“So guys, George got a haircut last night. It’s the second haircut I’ve ever done. Look at it,” Cochrane said. “For my second one, it’s doing okay.”

Families give updates on private birthday parties, and sympathize with each other on the challenges of homeschooling. At one point, the virtual participants share a physical moment when baby Thanos barfs all over his mom.

“Poor Shirleen!”


“Thanos just puked all over her.”

“We’ve all been there before!”

After an hour the families hang up and go their separate ways, but they’ll be back next week to share more updates on life at home.