Those who know me in real life have probably heard about my haircut schedule. I get it cut really short, then style it differently as it grows. When I can’t get it to look good anymore, usually about five months later, I go and get it cut short again. It’s a cycle that works for me.
For the record, I last got my hair cut in July. It has just reached the point where it’s really beyond redemption. Sadly, hairdressers are non-essential so they’re all closed. No haircut for me until this whole COVID thing blows over — which means that every day is a Bad Hair Day.
With a sigh of relief that I couldn’t bear to part with my huge collection of headcoverings, I’ve taken to wearing headscarves again. My kids like it. I’m not loving it (they keep slipping off my fine hair) but it’s better than the alternative right now.
Today I committed to getting a new curtain panel sewn and put up in our bedroom. I tweaked the design so that the curtain would extend all the way to the ceiling. Now when Mr. December asks whether we can achieve total blackout conditions, I can proudly say, “We’re closer than ever before!”
(Fun fact: Anyone who laughed at that last line is between the ages of thirty and forty-five.)
My singleminded focus, difficult as it was for my children to comprehend, paid off: the curtain is up, and it’s better than the first two prototypes.
But just so you know, a day of focusing on one job doesn’t look the way I thought it should. There were the inevitable tech support requests from children who had clicked their way out of the class; Challah dough needed to be made early because it tastes best when I let the dough rise for three hours or more; Repeated interruptions by a kid updating me every time he finished another page of math (so, every two minutes); frequent whining for more screen time (“Only after you spend 20 minutes outside”, I’d answer); and, of course, cleaning up the dining room table and floor because there’s no way my Makery is clean enough to do a project this big down there. You can rest assured that I snapped at the kids anytime they so much as breathed a hint of a request that they didn’t really need my help for.
I can confidently say that it took me three hours of work to get the curtain done. I could also truthfully say that it took me all day.
I’m looking into volunteering to make fabric surgical masks, since apparently there’s a need for them. Tonight at dinner I told the kids that we each needed to find something we could do for the good of the community right now.
“Like what?” Asked one kid.
“Well, I’m going to sew masks. You know how to use a sewing machine. You could do it too.”
“That doesn’t sound very interesting,” she commented, “I don’t want to do that.”
I also mentioned that a few hospitals are asking for scans of children’s artwork that they can print and give to patients who need to be cheered up. That idea got rejected too.
Mr. December and I were disappointed. “This is not about whether you’re interested in doing it,” I pointed out, “This is about having the ability to help and the willingness to do what needs to be done. You have to help people the way they want to be helped, not the way you want to help them.”
I think my lecture fell on deaf ears, as most parental lectures seem to do. My kids seem so entitled right now. Mr. December suggested that maybe it was time to impose some hardship, like refusing to go to the grocery store for fresh fruit and dairy for a few weeks and instead serving only the non-perishable stuff that we have in the basement (all of which is pretty healthy and pretty plain: rice, beans, oatmeal. Not fun food.) My determination to improve my kids’ attitude in this area was further cemented by a Zoom call with my parents: when I dropped off challah at their house this afternoon, I also picked up the souvenirs they bought for the kids during their cruise. The children loved the gifts, but one (I’m not naming names) kept asking for this other thing she saw that was not for her. She asked repeatedly, until I said, “Ask again and the answer will be No forever.”
I’ve always said that my job is to help my children use their unique talents for good and not for evil. Right now I feel like I’m failing at it. Maybe before this worldwide crisis is over the children will come to understand that they can and must contribute to the common good. I really hope they do.
But tonight, right now, I’d settle for them understanding how to contribute to the common good (read: silence) by GOING TO SLEEP!