Apathy · Keepin' it real · Kids · mental health · parenting · The COVID files · whine and cheese

Day 297: Get Outside

I’m not the only one in this family feeling the strain, and it’s really starting to show. A few nights ago I asked E to get ready for bed; she dug in her heels and refused, then began to cry. Eventually she calmed down and when I asked her what happened, she answered tearfully, “You know, Eema, I’ve just had a really stressful day.” Not what you want to hear from your six-year-old.

Last night we were reading in bed after tucking in all the kids. After knocking on our door, R came in and jumped onto our bed for a hug. She does this from time to time, coming in for a few hugs and then going to bed. Last night was different, though: at one point she started to cry, but couldn’t (or wouldn’t) tell me what was bothering her. She ended up sleeping on a mattress on our bedroom floor.

N begged me to stay with him until he fell asleep last night, but I suspect that has more to do with Mr. December’s choice of movie—Contagion—to watch with N and K than it does with any kind of lockdown-related angst.

And K… well, she’s a teenager now, which means emotional outbursts are par for the course. Come to think of it, outbursts have been par for the course for a long time with her: ADHD will do that. Bottom line: I don’t know where “normal” teenage reactions end and “crisis” reactions to COVID restrictions begin.

We forced the kids outside today. The sun was shining and it was above zero. Still, the kids resisted. They begged us to let them keep playing Roblox. They insisted they weren’t going anywhere. E cried in frustration. I don’t remember how we did it, but we somehow got all of them outside. Some of us went for a walk, others played on the trampoline and swings, and still others sat on the porch, reading; but we all got outside, and it did us good.

We should be getting everyone outside every day, rain or shine, but it’s just so difficult to get the kids to do it that on my more depressive days I can’t summon the strength of will to outlast them. I hope that one of these days they’ll realize how much better they feel when they have some outdoor time, but I’m not holding my breath. Maybe I’ll just make screen time contingent on having spent a certain amount of time outside.

After dinner tonight R came to me and asked permission to play on the computer again. I said no. She nagged, she begged, she cried. I stood firm. It was a rough half-hour, but as I type she’s sitting on the floor with a book while the Secret Garden Broadway cast recording plays. N is reading too, and E is inventing a game with random small objects on the coffee table. I haven’t heard “Can I play Among Us?” in at least an hour.

I wonder what life would look like in our house if I just took away the computers. I don’t know if I have the fortitude right now to withstand the whining and nagging that would surely ensue, but it’s very tempting.

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