B.C. kids social distancing from their father knit blanket to keep him warm

Haley (left) and Jacob Paetkau knit their father a blanket for Easter since they can’t hug him during the pandemic. (Photo courtesy Steve Sxwithul’txw)
Haley Paetkau (right) taught her little brother Jacob to knit so they could tackle the project together. (Photo courtesy Steve Sxwithul’txw)

Steve Sxwithul’txw hasn’t hugged his kids since early March.

As the situation with the COVID-19 began to worsen, the Greater Victoria father made the difficult decision to social distance from his children Haley, 11, and Jacob, 7, Paetkau, during the pandemic as he’s the designated “grocery runner” and the kids are high-risk – Haley has asthma and Jacob has severe allergies, he explained.

Sxwithul’txw was brought to tears on Saturday morning when his children surprised him with a hand-knit Easter blanket to keep him warm until they can hug him again.

READ ALSO: Religious leaders look at options to comply with COVID-19 as holiday weeks begin

He knew the kids had started knitting but had no idea they were secretly making something for him. They’d collected wool on various trips to Michael’s with their mom and had originally told Sxwithul’txw that their plan was to knit a patchwork blanket and sell per-square to collect funds for charity.

When he arrived at the kids’ home on April 11 to hide Easter eggs, they surprised him with a large box. Inside was a woollen purple, pink, light blue and turquoise patchwork blanket. The kids explained that the blanket was meant to be a stand-in until they can give him a hug again.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: B.C. ER nurse self-isolates in travel trailer, apart from family

“It’s something you just don’t expect to see,” he said proudly. “It was an absolutely stunning gift.”

What made the gift even more special, was that Sxwithul’txw’s mom and grandmother were Cowichan First Nation knitters so the kids were connecting with their heritage. He knew that Haley had learned to knit from watching her grandmother make sweaters but said it was a “step above” to learn that his daughter has taught her little brother the craft too.

Not hugging his children has been “brutal” and Sxwithul’txw never expected to see a global health crisis like this one in his lifetime – let alone in his children’s.

READ ALSO: Sooke woman, 93, sews aprons for grocery store workers

“It’s the toughest thing we’ve ever had to go through,” he said, noting that he’s very close with his kids.

Sxwithul’txw has been visiting Haley and Jacob at least once a day since the pandemic began. They ride bikes, talk and play – all from six feet apart. He pointed out that it’s been especially hard for Jacob to understand why he can’t have a hug, but knows it’s the right thing to do to keep them safe.

“I remind them every day that I’m still here and we’ll get through this.”

READ ALSO: B.C. custody case highlights uncharted territory for split parents amid COVID-19

The hand-knit blanket almost makes up for the lack of tiny hugs and Sxwithul’txw said he’ll think of them every time he sees it. He plans to keep the gift forever and said he might resort to dragging his special new blanket everywhere with him like Charlie Brown’s friend Linus.

He’s not sure what the kids plan to knit next but wouldn’t be surprised if they go back to their original charity idea. He added that they are aware of how privileged they are and understand how valuable life is.

“They come up with this stuff on their own,” he emphasized. “This is how we raised them – I’m a proud dad.”


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

CoronavirusVictoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Organizer, Victoria councillor, VicPD talk about upcoming rally for Black lives

‘It’s a simple ask’: Peace rally for Black lives organizer asks people to listen

PHOTOS: Dozens show up to rebuild vandalized Victoria people-less protest

Chalk messages of support surround the fountain in Centennial Square

George Floyd mural appears on Victoria street

Victoria artist Paul Archer painted the mural outside his shop on Fort Street

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

MISSING: High-risk woman last seen on May 25

Police are asking for the public’s help in locating Jennifer Daughinee-Mendelson

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Most Read