If I allow myself I think I may worry about running out of ways to keep my kids being so cool with all of this. Or maybe it’s that whole “kids are resilient” thing we hear during broken bones and marriages and promises and such. It’s 35 degrees outside. Yes, it is sunny and inviting looking and maybe we will take a quick jaunt, but between the cold and the rain, we have been pretty much sheltered in place, emphasis on the shelter.
But it has come down to three components. Three beyond the obvious school stuff that all four of us have dealt with in a new way, all in the same room. Those three have been food, entertainment, and activities. I already know regardless of how long this goes I won’t be doing arts and crafts projects. In fact, they already get enough “teacher dad” stuff so as terrible as it sounds, once we call it a day with the academics, I probably won’t go the educational route much. Judge away, but the goal here is to keep them calm and feeling loved and supported. If I get them to a place where they start not wanting to do stuff with me, they will push toward less social distancing. They will stop being so cool. And they’ve been so cool. Variety, I think, has been key.
They go back to their mom tomorrow for a couple nights so I’ll have time to plan. Thursday was an epic game of risk, apps for dinner, and concerts on Youtube playing in the background. Last night was Monopoly, pizza, and classic Ray Allen shot Miami Heat playoff game, Kerry Wood’s 20 strikeout performance (the best pitched game EVER), and the Bulls’ 1998 game 6 championship win over the Jazz. Tonight we are watching a trilogy of Aliens movies (don’t judge) with chili, and talking a lot about the place we are going to seal ourselves away from society in the woods next week. Variety.
They’re doing well with all of this. Yes, they all have devices they cling to but it’s a portal, for them, to the outside. We pepper in way too many episodes of The 100 on Netflix because the middle guy loves it and, despite the shoddy acting/writing/effects – the art snob in me even becomes a little less pretentious when an 11 year old looks at me with wide hopeful eyes at midnight begging to watch the 6th episode in a row.
Generally I wouldn’t go for all this junk food, junk media, junk time (some, but not this full on binge), but right now I am. This is a scary time. For a parent, son, boyfriend, grandson, teacher – to not have all the answers needed to soothe everyone they wish to and usually can? Distraction through bonding, in whatever variety or shape it comes, works for me. I am constantly thinking about how my people look back on their lives and the time spent with me. This thing is something they’ll remember, and I would like to be the face of calm and fun and distraction they recall in their memories of it. So far I think I’m hanging on. Hopefully I won’t have so long to play this role that I run out of ideas. Either way, it’s bringing us closer. Silver linings are most appreciated when the darkness they spring from is fraught with confusion and unpredictability.