OTTAWA -- Strange twists in perspective are developing as we collectively tumble down the rabbit hole of this COVID-19 pandemic.

Normal fixations have been displaced by a hungering for the sights and sounds of routine experiences that, just four months ago, might’ve been irritating, irrational or unworthy of a second thought.

Consider this list of things I never thought I’d see or miss and can’t wait to experience again as this prolonged period of isolation, physical distancing and economic trauma drags on.

The flashing red lights of a school bus: It would usually mean a stop-and-go drive for cars following behind, but the delay would be a smile-worthy experience now. If buses are being loaded with students, the schools are open and stay-at-home child care has ended.

Justin Trudeau on a gender issue: Or pledging a new tweak in climate change policy. Or saluting a day of historical or religious significance. Getting back to some of the prime minister’s lower-impact announcements would be a welcome break from the daily billion-dollar rescue mission to help those whose jobs or employers are endangered by the economic shutdown.

A playground without yellow Do Not Cross tape: There’s something particularly hard on the heart seeing an energetic child’s fun place closed at the precise moment they need it the most.

Playground closed

Manitoba as our current must-visit province: With its low infection rates, the province is previewing the far side of the pandemic for the rest of us by reopening spaces and services this weekend. If we could get there, it would be Canada’s most active destination.

A full House of Commons sitting: While this week’s virtual connection was uniquely interesting and had some mildly entertaining technology snafus, nothing beats watching scripted cabinet ministers squirm under opposition attack. Besides, a 338-MP reunion would be a strangely comforting sign that federal politics, as ridiculous and divisive as it can be at times, is back to normal.

A less-intense news lineup: Oh to see chief anchor Lisa LaFlamme lead with an interest rate uptick or some other sleepy story instead of the day’s coronavirus death count, the worst mass murder in Canadian history or a tragic military helicopter crash.

A dinner wondering when the guests will leave: Now, courtesy of a 40-minute time limit on the Zoom phenomenon app, the challenge is getting the main course served before the technology cuts off your virtual culinary connection.

The declining debt-to-GDP ratio: How quaint it now seems to size up our fiscal health through the lens of rising debt linked to economic growth. Here’s to getting back to such mundane measurements instead of a $250-billion federal deficit with bigger numbers to come amid plummeting GDP.

Truckers hogging the highway fast lane: Heavy traffic in trucks would signal an economic acceleration is under way and that’s a big deal compared to the inconvenience of taking the car off cruise control.

A relaxing haircut: There’s a new appreciation for a professional trim instead of nervously contemplating a scissors-armed family member attempting the task for the first time, particularly when they keep observing there’s not much hair to trim.

So that’s a top ten list of things to miss as we await the day when ‘positive’ means something good, not a bad viral test result; when a cough is considered normal chest congestion not a COVID-19 infection; and when news stories no longer refer to the possibility that ‘the worst is yet to come’.

Until those happy days return, perhaps we should consider how these strange new pandemic perspectives could make you a better person in the long run.