What day is this? Monday? Right. We had spaghetti for dinner. That’s the only way I’m keeping track of things right now: via what we ate for dinner. Every monday we have pasta. Tomorrow is Taco Tuesday. Tomorrow is also Day 6 of Distance Learning, which is the very official and studious sounding name to what amounts to a few hours of begging Bobo to complete a worksheet bookended by SpongeBob Squarepants episodes.
Today she wore a fancy dress to “school” (read: our living room), complete with gold colored purse and matching cardigan. I was about to protest, give her a few reasons why we should keep our clothes glue- and marker-free, maybe save the dresses for fancy occasions, and then I was like: You know what? Who cares? Who cares about ANYthing right now? You wanna wear a dress? Go right ahead. The fanciest dress you own? Rock it. Want a clown wig and firefighter’s helmet to go with it? Knock yourself out. You know what absolutely doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things? This dress. Specifically, whether or not you’ll stain it bad enough (you will) that you’ll never be able to wear it again (you won’t). Wear ALL the dresses, kid, EVERY DAMNED DAY.
My perspective is shifting by the hour. Day 1, hour 1, I was having an aneurysm over how I was going to teach my kid from home and make her the World’s Greatest Homeschooled Child. Today, Day 5? Well, we played a memory game and glued together a cheap wooden birdhouse and kind of called it a day. Somehow, we did get most things crossed off the curriculum list, but if we hadn’t? I still wouldn’t have cared. The world at large and our household writ small needs a little gentleness for ourselves right now. The rules of the quarantine (seriously, STAY HOME, PEOPLE) are strict in my house. But the way we stay inside? We’re making that up minute by minute.
Oh, and we made bath bombs.
I’d say we NAILED IT.
Okay, so we didn’t nail it. You know what I DID do, though? I let my kid get filthy the way she likes to (and in her dress, no less). I let her smoosh that paste of baking soda (and godknowswhatelse was in that packet that makes it purple and smell like strawberries) with her hands and I let it get all over the floor and countertops. We giggled as the yellow foamed over and the green didn’t mix properly. We tried our best to pack it into the molds and get them out in time to stop fizzing. It was… a mess. And really, maybe 3 out of 20 of those bath bombs were usable. You know who didn’t care? Bobo. Not one bit. To her, this was dreamy. A big mess and Mama not yelling about it? Pass the blue, please! I have a butterfly mold to pack!
Now, pre-quarantine Lolo would have had a FIT over the amount of mess, over the lack of impulse control and disregard for precise measurements. Quarantine Lolo is much… cooler. She knows that if Bobo doesn’t care if the bath bombs are not properly shaped and if the yellow is foaming over, then why should she?
What I’m saying is, I might just wear a fancy dress to teach in tomorrow.
What I’m saying is: the pandemic got very real, and very close to home for me this weekend, and I know that if I don’t loosen my grip on my need for order and cleanliness, I’m going to drive everyone in my household crazy. This is a hard one for me, because I’ve historically been really GOOD at making order, and order outside my chaotic brain equals order inside my chaotic brain. You might call making order my vocation. I’m finding myself, though, in the midst of a pandemic with ants. and a washing machine I can’t use, and my house upside down during a remodel, and a toddler who is responding to this whole crisis by having a potty training regression and nightmares. There are soy sauce packets beneath dirty napkins next to toys next to I don’t even know because I simply cannot keep up with all there is to do. And WE ARE THE LUCKY ONES. We don’t have a learning disability to navigate, or a behavioral disorder in our kid. I don’t need to report to a (paid) job. We are financially okay. I know how to make soup from literally ANYthing, so we’re always going to have food in the house.
It’s still effing hard. And I still need to loosen the grip.
<Add to the mix that I’m an introvert, one who more often than not can’t take the level of noise in her house, and, well… there’s only so many times I can rearrange the contents of the fridge before it gets clinical.>
So I’m learning. Alongside all the horror stories of how this illness progresses in the body, and how ill prepared we are for it, I’m reading about how to set realistic expectations. I learned yesterday, for instance, that kids that are truly homeschooled only get about 2-3 hours of butt-in-chair academic time. The rest is experiential learning and play. So, buh-bye, crying and gnashing of teeth for six hours trying to get Bobo to complete her reading assignment. I also read about a mom who solved her kids’ constant asking for snacks by setting out cute baskets filled with what snacks they could eat all day AND NOTHING MORE, BOBO, so they could all be on the same page.
There is so much more I want to write about tonight, so much more I want to address about mental health during this crisis, but I’m tired after 13 hours of kid/house-care followed by 2 hours of remodel stuff. For now, can I make a request? I know there are only, like, 11 people reading this, but please call everyone you love after you’re done reading this. Seriously. Pretend it’s 1995 and call people. Lord knows we all have LOTS of time on our hands right now. Let people know they’re not alone. If you know someone whose expectations are, ahem, not realistic *raises hand* about how “productive” we should be during quarantine, or how *not* lonely they are supposed to feel with all the Zoom meetups and online dance lessons, let them know we’re all taking this minute by minute. Let them know it’s okay to feel sad and anxious, but that we’re here, and if we need to take turns being sad and anxious just so we’re not all sad and anxious at the same time, then we can work out a schedule for that. I’m sure there’s an app for it. Hang on, let me check my kid’s schoolwork packet. There’s probably a lesson plan around it in there.
Listen, just let them know they can wear their party dress around the house tomorrow if they want to, okay? It might not make them feel better about any of this, but they’ll know that there’s a strong willed five year old in the suburbs of New Jersey doing the same, and maybe that connection to another human being will be enough to get them through another day.