I’ve been noticing a ton of complaining lately. Most if it has been of the “making me wear a mask is infringing on my rights” or “you not wearing a mask is infringing on mine” variety. For today’s purposes, I don’t particularly care what side of that line that you, dear reader, fall on. That is not the complaining that is concerning me.
The complaining I’m referring to is coming from inside the house. My kids have been troopers through this whole thing. They’ve done their schoolwork and helped around the house from time to time. They’ve not fought as much as they did pre-virus. They seem to understand that they are in a much better situation than a lot of other people. Their parents haven’t been catastrophically financially ruined by the stay at home order. We haven't had to buy bigger pants, put 'Keep Out!' signs on our doors or break up any fist fights. We are a family that genuinely gets along. We are, for the most part, happy and healthy.
The last week or so, there have been chinks in their armor.
It started with Darby, my youngest. She has become more secluded when allowed. Her base instinct lately seems to be to sneak off to watch TV or play on someone’s phone.
Next was Macy. She has always been the most prone to run hot and cold. The last few weeks, lots of hot. Fire breathing hot. Angry hot. Not very cool.
Finally, Avery, my eldest. She has just dropped. Her mood has gone into the proverbial shitter. To her defense, she’s missed the last months of her 7th grade year, her soccer season and was trapped in her house during her 13th birthday. She has every reason to be down in the mush, I’m just not that great at letting her wallow. Anyone who knows us knows that she’s my little buddy and it kills me to see her, or my other kids, feeling low.
My wife has been less affected, job wise, than I have. I am better able to shift my hours around. It has left me feeling a little more responsible for my kid’s school, their free time and, in some ways, their mental state. My wife keeps the lights on, I keep the boogie man away, so to speak.
I needed to act.
Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am a caring dad but a weird hybrid of impulsive and strict. This situation would be no different. I decided that maybe what the kids were lacking was a schedule. The answer to their boredom? Clearly its assigning them a bunch of duties and a limited time to get them done!
“Hey kids, you bored? Here’s War and Peace. Get me a report on it as soon as you’re done.”
Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad but the rules were an hour and a half a day. Math, reading, music and phys ed. Half hour each, math and reading being daily. Its not monstrous, but the kids definitely didn’t see it as a cure for boredom either. What they didn’t know is that I had plans for when they got finished with their chores*.
*Chores-crap they should be doing anyway so they become better people and their brains don’t turn to porridge.
The result was interesting. They complained at first, but they started gravitating towards it. I’ll be dipped, they seem to appreciate the normalcy. Maybe I’m being overly generous, but they get it done daily, even proudly checking off their lists.
Rewarding them, during the time of the virus is a different animal. Finding fun that is also socially distant isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. So far we’ve gone fishing, kayaking, bike rides, the drive-in movie theater (total life saver) and done more in our back yard than we have done in years, if ever.
The lesson here little ladies? This one’s about mommy and me. We have found a ton of fun and got a ton accomplished. We’ve struck a balance. Our house is cleaner, we’ve built a new deck, we’ve run more miles and done more workouts than before the virus. We’ve done more as a family during this time as well. We’ve played games and done puzzles and swam and watched movies and on and on.
Naysayers would say “Of course you’ve done all of this stuff. You are stuck at home”.
Maybe, but I think more specifically, we’ve made the time. We’ve made it a priority because of how different the world seems. It could have been this way all along, it just took a decision to make it so.
I wholly believe that when my girls look back at this time, they will look back fondly (assuming our family and friends don’t get sick or lose jobs). Hopefully, it will be a time where they remember further embracing the outdoors and learned to play the piano. A time when they mastered their math and read a great book series. Hopefully, it’s a time where our family bonds grew stronger and we laughed and played more than we ever have.
Now, fun and games aside little ladies, you have an hour and a half of stuff to do. Get you butts in gear.