THIS COVID-19 DIARY FOR MY KIDS… AND THEIR KIDS.
It’s been a week and we are changed. Last Friday (Friday March 13, of all dates?!?) all of us local parents were notified that school would be ‘on pause’ for the next 2 weeks… to make our community safer and less of a breeding ground for this WTF COVID-19 virus that has overtaken our news, our livelihoods and our collective mental health+clarity. In just ONE WEEK. Thursday March 12 was teed up for our elementary school’s “World Fair” and then Friday the 13th came crashing down. We swooped into my girls’ classrooms (per our principal’s request to parents) and picked up key worksheets, textbooks, borrow Chromebook (since I had the foresight to know that two kids plus only one laptop at home would equal chaos when navigating online assignments). Our teachers were sweet and supportive… the young+pregnant one was a little emotional and seemed borderline-scared (in a totally understandable way — I offered her a gentle, unsolicited pep talk about how everything would be ok in the end). They said “See you in 2 weeks, girls!” I knew it’d be longer than that. Much longer. (Now our local and state officials are chattering about school most likely being closed until summer/fall. Dammit. But I knew it.) What I’d give to be able to go on a Bahamian vacation right now…. the plastic pink flamingos (that I complained about ordering just a week earlier) are now back at my house, mocking me. Mocking all of us.
I’m checking my fear. The weekend that followed (Saturday March 14 – Sunday March 15) spiked with fear — my mind and heart raced all weekend. The virus itself didn’t scare me as much as the potential civil unrest did — I watched The Walking Dead for 8 seasons, I know how desperate and crazy unstable people can get. My husband told me (over and over): “This is not The Walking Dead. STOP.” I went to the grocery store again — not to hoard (seriously) but to shop for my regular groceries and just pickup ‘one extra meat, one extra milk, another carton of eggs, a few more crackers than I usually get’ and so forth. I’d already gone the Thursday before (when I had a gut feeling that school would be cancelled the next day) — I had my younger daughter with me (she wasn’t feeling great, so I kept her home from school that day) and there was ZERO toilet paper. It was stupid and ridiculous. I called out the panic on my Instagram. Be prepared, yes. Be panicked, NO. Because no one can think clearly when we are panicked.
Preparing and paying attention. Thank goodness I used my brain to jet into my hairdresser Saturday morning March 14 — the gray hairs were coming in hot and I REFUSED to forge into any kind of imminent home-lockdown looking like a 70 year old woman (I knew it was coming — Facebook is crazy but there are some unexpectedly credible+prolific folks on there)…. For the record, I also bought an extra root-spray [color] on my trip to the store. A Saturday stop at the bank to pull out a few hundred bucks of cash (small bills) and another quickie trip to CVS on Sunday to grab basic medications (things I was out of at my house already — cough medicine, kids vitamins, Tylenol), microwave popcorn and dried fruits+nuts. Because more family movie nights need more microwave popcorn and a very dear Der Hayr (Armenian priest) who has since passed instructed me years ago to stock up dried fruits+nuts for a time of civil chaos.
Love & communication with loved ones is rampant. Dozens of phone calls and texts between my sister and I, my dad and I, cousins, friends, on and on happened that weekend — wild conversations ranging from worst-case scenarios (people shooting each other in the streets over toilet paper) and soulful philosophy about how this crisis is actually a reset for good (God is watching us, “Love one another as I have loved you”) prevailed. My emotions spiked and surged over these two days more freakishly and unpredictably than when my mom died. I cried a lot, my heart was in a constant-pound. My eyebrows would’ve been permanently furled together had I not gotten a fresh round of Botox just a few weeks before (thanks, Hubs).
My mom’s voice is in my head. What would she say? I know exactly what she’d say — might be offensive to some snowflakes reading this, so I won’t repeat. But let it be known (if only to myself) that I see things so clearly now and wholeheartedly agree with her way of thinking. Man, would we have had some TALKS about this!!! But I do think she’s here. My kitchen light starts flickering and flashing every time I find myself doubting anything. I hear ya, Mom. Loud and clear. I’ve got this.
We will rise up or else. Monday March 16. Homeschool started. I am committed — schedules help them, help me, help us all continue to be productive. 10am-2pm, baby. No wake up alarms or anything like that… but we wake up, get dressed, fix our beds, eat breakfast and say a prayer together before starting our day. They do online worksheets and math games. I don’t have immediate access to my computer like I used to, but it’s ok. We do art projects too. Dance rehearsals via videos from our studio. My older one continues to practice piano and has now given her little sister a few lessons. We go outside and do ‘recess’ — swings, mud pies (sun is shining today but it’s been raining like a son-of-a-gun… my patio furniture is holding on for dear life). Mid-week, my little one wrote thank you notes to her sweet friends and we drove around and dropped them in their mailboxes (her puppy-themed 8th birthday party was just the week before — seems like an eternity ago now)! The first day of homeschool, my little one cried for missing her teacher and friends. We sat on the kitchen floor, I held her and my older one: “I know this is weird — I don’t like it either. But we are on the same team and this is our time to rise up. Just like Elsa+Anna, we will DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING. [Frozen 2 — they got it.] We will stand up and show ourselves what it means to rise to the occasion. This is our civic duty. Am I scared? NO. So there’s no reason for any of us to be scared.” And then we wiped our tears and stood up. And we have been forging ahead since then. VIDEO PROOF HERE. And will keep this gosh-darn smile on my face — for THEM.
Random perks including: I am a renewed laundry queen — washing and putting away in a most timely manner, moreso than I used to. Because a home that’s in order breeds less chaos. I’m training myself to use EVERYTHING in the fridge, according to expiration dates, what goes bad first, what can be frozen. I chopped up a few 3-day old chicken breasts and a made a quick soup with onions, carrots and a leftover half-pint of vegetable broth… into the freezer it went! Washed and froze berries, storing a few loaves of bread in the freezer too (just in case something goes haywire with being able to access stores). I now understand my Grandma A (dad’s mom) — a child of the Great Depression, she’d rubber band slivers of soap together to make them last longer. We thought she was weird — NOPE, she knew how to not waste. My girls are now committed to using up to 3 squares of toilet paper for #1, up to 4 squares for #2 — my older daughter hand-wrote a sign and pasted above their toilet paper roll in their bathroom. We are all becoming conscious of how to use items responsibly and without much waste. We all cleaned and organized the hallway closet a few days ago. Don’t worry, junk drawer is still shamefully legendary. And oh! A leprechaun visited us for the very first time on St. Patrick’s Day this year (because they usually only visit non-Irish kids at school). Only issue is, the little bugger paid no attention to our toilet paper usage instructions and unraveled the whole damn roll all over the floor…. ?!?!!?
The best good news? GOD IS BACK. Thank you! (I know, he never left… but so many left him.) The Sunday School teacher part of me has been smiling with faith and laughing at how NOW (allofasudden!!!) people aren’t afraid to say the word God without being ridiculed or getting eyes rolled at them. I nearly fell off my couch yesterday when PC-liberal CNN anchor Chris Cuomo said “God Bless You” on national TV to our LA Mayor Garcetti… and then Garcetti said it back! Would that have happened before all this mess? Nope. For the past 3 years, I’ve taught Sunday School every weekend but have admittedly (and shamefully) censored myself in secular situations to not make others feel ‘uncomfortable’ if they didn’t share my beliefs. Not anymore. Lesson learned. People are posting rainbows appearing on Facebook… yes y’all, God keeps his promises. Eyes up, He’s watching. (We are, afterall, in the Lenten season now… Lent reminds us Christians to become closer to God. Mission accomplished like it never has been before. I am eating chocolate, though.)
Breaking alert: I’m an introvert!? Because staying home is not getting to me at all (yet). I’m inexplicably happy right now — with my kids, my husband, the family and friends I’m communicating with. Besides the uncertainty of what our [corrupt] CA Government might pull on us, I feel fine (#sorrynotsorry). But the texts and social media posts taking over my feeds are out of control with “OMG I’m going crazy! The kids are driving me nuts! I don’t know how to homeschool! What will we do!” This mama don’t play that game. Never have. Suck it up. Cry in our rooms to let it all out but then stand up. Cry with our kids and grieve that we miss seeing our friends in person, but then stand up. This is awful, but our great-grandparents, grandparents and some of our parents went through much more of a hell than this. Rise up. Eyes up. Stay home. Learn. Reassess our lives, priorities and how maybe (just maybe!) this is a slap in the face to change our ways — to not travel here there everywhere at all times because omg staying at home is so boring?! OUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITIES HAVE BEEN OUT OF WHACK FOR YEARS. Time to fix it for good. Home is where the heart is? Prove it to yourself and make it real.
This is THE time in our history that can shape our children to become positively resilient and really learn what true gratitude means (not fake gratitude). THIS crisis can grow our kids into becoming America’s next “Greatest Generation” — but ONLY if WE lead the way.
To quote the wise words of my 100-year old Grandma E (yes! 100 in April!) when I talked to her earlier this week and discussed our current world’s bizarre happenings: “Even when things get worse, they will always get better.”
In focused and fabulous solidarity,