Pandemonium and Paradox


As I write this, the world is reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re all in the throes of it, experiencing every emotion—often in the same day.

In Colorado, we have been on lockdown since mid-March. Since I am now a remote employee, day-to-day life did not change drastically for me (or Elliot, for that matter). For the big kids and Chad, though, their entire world has been turned upside down.

Chad has been immersing himself in planning the ultimate garden. The shortages in the grocery stores were eye-opening and he wants to be as self-sufficient as possible in the middle of a city. And his hard work is already apparent. The back of the back yard is a mulchy oasis of tiny greenery.

Jackson and Grace have been doing online school since March 17th or so. This means that their entire curricula is available online and they are expected to complete their work daily. In the beginning, Jackson was really good at online school. He quickly learned that he could get the whole day’s worth of work done in a very short time, leaving him with plenty of time for watching “The Simpsons” on Disney+ and playing Xbox.

Grace rebelled against online school from the start. She hated the idea that she was not able to physically go to school and therefore refused to do any work at home. It’s ironic, because almost every single day this year she’s come home from school moody, complaining about how she hates being around her classmates because they’re always so disruptive and the whole class gets in trouble for their shenanigans even though she’s generally a perfect angel at school. (Surprisingly, this is true. I have always heard from her teachers that she is very well-behaved at school. She must save up all her consternation for me.)

We’re only three weeks from the end of the school year now, and MY GOD, it will be a long claw to the finish line.

Grace’s teachers set up Zooms with her every day, so she at least does 30 minutes of school each day—face to face with a teacher. Jackson is supposed to check in throughout the day for his various classes, but he has not been doing this. Hopefully his grades will survive.

Having the whole family together is like a dream come true, and also a little bit of a sitcom (Think “Malcolm in the Middle,” not “The Brady Bunch”). I love having my kids around, but they are constantly hungry and the big two fight practically nonstop. The little guy sometimes gets lost in the noise and sometimes makes more noise than the older two combined. There’s nowhere for any of us to go to escape; most of the stores are closed and children are not supposed to go to any of the ones that are open. It’s the 24/7 Family Challenge!

The really interesting thing is that most other families are in exactly the same position as us. People all over the world are doing this crazy pandemic tango. In most or all families, people are taking turns having nervous breakdowns and sometimes complete throw-downs while others try to lift them up from the depths of their own black hole. How strange that a virus brought the entire world together in ways the internet and airplanes never could. And yet, we are all apart, separated by six feet of social distance space and wearing masks of varied origins.

No one knows how long this will last. Though we cannot stay shut up indoors indefinitely, some people are utterly terrified to rejoin society. Others are outraged at their loss of independence; we all grieve in different ways.

But while we’re all stuck together at home, I will try my best to cherish the togetherness. All the outbursts, the shouting, the kicking and hitting and biting, all the asking for snacks, all the tech support for Zooms and Google Meets, all of it. My family is my everything. For now, we are all together and safe. Isn’t that the most important thing?

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