Apathy · education · Kids · mental health · The COVID files · whine and cheese

Social Distancing, Day 3: Keeping it real.

Mr. December woke me this morning with, “Your parents made the front cover of the Post!” Technically they didn’t, but their cruise ship did. Their trip has turned from a 3-week cruise to a stranded-at-sea scenario. (Is anyone else humming “a three hour tour… a three hour tour…”? No? Just me? OK then.)

Here at home, we’ve descended into squalor a little too quickly. I expected to maintain a slightly cleaner kitchen at this point. Then again, it was The Boy’s turn on kitchen cleanup today and if his attitude toward personal cleanliness is any indication, I should have anticipated this.

Actual conversation this morning:

Me: Please go put some pants on.

Boy: I don’t want to. Why should I?

Me: Because otherwise I can clearly tell that you haven’t changed your underwear yet today.

Five minutes later he was back downstairs, wearing pants.

 

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I sold my children’s souls to Netflix this morning. I just couldn’t get up the motivation to push them to do any work yet. Look, some days are just less productive than others. I’m acutely aware that this isolation is a marathon, not a sprint. I have to pace myself.

We had two doctor appointments today, one online and one by phone. I wonder whether everyone will clue in to how useful and efficient video meetings with the doctor can be. When this whole COVID thing is over, will our provincial health plan keep the billing code for remote consultations?

I went to pick up our online grocery order, and by “pick up” I mean that I parked in the designated spot, called the store from my car, and waited as they brought out the groceries and loaded them into my trunk. I got plenty of fresh produce, a couple of treats, bread, and baking supplies. What I didn’t get was milk and eggs. Apparently there weren’t any.

I’m adjusting to the reality that we just can’t get around to doing everything every single day. Hair brushing, for example. We’re on an every-other-day schedule. On the first day I detangle their hair and braid it tightly in a French braid. On the second day we do nothing and their braids loosen and generally look unkempt. I’ve made my peace with it.

I was pretty impressed that The Boy (aka N) gamely sat down with me to practice his Hebrew reading. He tells everyone who listens that he hates Hebrew, so I expected more of a battle. I suppose he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to snuggle with me in the comfy chair with a cozy blanket for twenty minutes. The book is a very basic primer and it’s slow going, but at least he’s practicing.

R did her novel study homework without being prompted. K did two hours of math. E begged me to “Please pretend you’re my Montessori teacher and you’re teaching me how to work with Magna Tiles!”

By 4:00 p.m. I was frazzled. Too much noise, too much talking, too much neediness. The kids, the house, everything was just too much. K was screaming at the others to pipe down so she could focus on her work. I was waiting for the doctor to call me for my appointment. Finally I gave up waiting and took the kids outside. Of course, that’s when the phone rang.

I suspect the doctor could hear my kids screaming in the background. Something about somebody’s scooter… I don’t know. It was probably the fastest appointment I’ve ever had. It was over in about 6 minutes and I found myself following the kids down the block only to have E tell me that she needed to pee (of course she did) and N said that he did too. Back to the house. When the bathroom had been used and hands washed, I took us out to the backyard.

Meanwhile, R was suffering from social withdrawal. She started to FaceTime everyone she could think of. When she hung up after 40 minutes of video calling, she immediately said, “Well, now I’m bored.”

“That sounds like a you problem, not a me problem,” I intoned sagely. “Go find something to do, or go scrub the toilets.”

Dinner was fine, if difficult to prepare because of the lack of clear counter space (it was N’s turn to clean, remember?). And then I set up our new family laptop so that R would be ready to start her online schooling tomorrow. Then I hid until bedtime.

As I write this, the kids are (finally!) in bed and quiet. The kitchen is still a mess — guess who won’t have privileges tomorrow — and I can feel the anxiety in my chest. I still don’t know how I’m going to deal with that but I have to figure out something fast, because this is the “new normal”.

Those of you who know me in “real life” (what is this internet thing? Imaginary?) have probably heard me say that happiness is a simple equation of reality minus expectations. Hence, the key to happiness is lowering your expectations until reality exceeds them. One day I’ll only expect that by day’s end everyone is still alive and the house hasn’t burned down, and then I’ll be perfectly, incandescently happy.

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