The One About the Markers
A letter to my descendants, number two
If anyone had asked me when my brood would start to crack, I would have guessed days ago. We, just the six of us and the dogs, have been at home since March 13. That will be three weeks on Friday.
I had worried that the togetherness and cabin fever would dissolved into constant bickering sometime in week one. As I mentioned in my last letter, we’ve had a bout of bickering every evening. But those events weren’t bad. The worst (so far) happened on this past Saturday evening.
The girls were watching a movie and I gave them the Kids’ Meals project to do. Houston ISD is a mess, and they only managed to keep their meal program going for a week. So the HISD kids who get their primary square meals from school cafeterias were out of luck. Enter Kids’ Meals which wants to get a sack lunch a day to these kids. Our National Charity League chapter had sent out an ask earlier in the week, so on the next grocery run, we got stuff for the sack lunches and the sacks. It was the weekend, when I have scheduled intentional doing-for-others time (still me. Still the schedule gal). My instructions to the girls were simple and easy to do while watching a movie: decorate the bags and then fill with the beverage, protein, and snack.
The fight broke out over use of one of the girl’s marker sets. Hers were the markers downstairs so they were getting put to use. Alas, the other sisters were not using the pens properly. It was like a vicious version of Monica Geller telling everyone at the party to make sure the marker caps clicked so the markers wouldn’t dry out and the party guests telling her exactly what they thought of such micro-management.
Still, if that was the worst, I’d take it. They did get the bags done and I got them delivered to the contact the next day. But it wasn’t the worst.
Surprisingly, at least to me, it isn’t the bickering that has gotten hard. I was sure it was going to be the bickering, but it’s the togetherness. And it isn’t even that the kids are sick of each other. Markers aside, they are doing pretty okay together. They simply want to see other people besides their three siblings and parents. The part of me that is trying hard to remember what it is like to be young understands. At least in theory. But again — and this is heavily informed by the fact none of us is on the front lines of this battle — I’m finding it really easy to make lemonade out of these social distancing lemons. I‘ve been enjoying the lack of rushing about to this drop off or that event.
School is going well, too. Mine aren’t being over Zoomed. Maybe it is an elementary school thing, but I hear from other parents that their kids have so many Zoom meetings the parents can’t get their work meetings to stop buffering. Internet does slow down in prime school time. Oh and Sunday mornings. Our church has been live streaming for a few years, but now every church with the capability has figured out streaming basics. Facebook Live was extremely glitchy last Sunday.
Extra school, the stuff Jim and I assign, is going well, too, or at least was until today. The girls protested a video-call sewing lesson, not because of the lesson but because it was on video and I hadn’t told them about it ahead of time. They are trying to carve out something that looks like independence and are not going to roll with unannounced, unilateral changes to the schedule.
Food is fine. Too fine, perhaps. We are in that cohort that is working on its cooking skills, so meals have been generally delicious and enjoyable. We’ve advanced to making staples. Jim is mastering ciabatta. My tortilla press should arrive today.
To keep our kitchen skills from blowing out our waistlines, and because sunlight is a disinfectant, I have upped our stash of outdoor activity options. I had JP get a basketball goal and dart board when this all started. I warmed the pool the last few degrees to 82. (Houston in April is fine swimming weather.) A ping pong tabletop is due to arrive this week. I set up croquet in the neighbors’ yard. (They have a flatter lawn. Checked with them first. They are older and in a remote house right now, waiting out the virus.)
On top of all of that, we’ve been very productive. We’ve rearranged furniture, inside and out, reorganized the fridge and neglected parts of the pantry, refined the filing system, organized Jim’s study, reorganized kitchen drawers (there were a few final adjustments I had not yet gotten to after the move), and pruned the small trees, planted two others, and a vegetable and cutting garden. Two kids have cleaned out their rooms. Two kids have upped their reading binges. I crocheted new oven pads during our movie time last night. (We’ve had the current ones since we got married. They were in a sorry state.)
It is all wonderful and we are lucky that we can do these things. But today it quietly occurred to each of us that we don’t know when this ends. Gov. Abbott recommended extending school closures until at least May the Fourth. That’s a month away.
And who are we kidding about school? So the teachers took a week and regeared their lessons to remote work and then, in May, once we all finally get the hang of it, they are going to flip everything back to actual classrooms for the last 3-4 weeks till summer? Jim and I have been discussing whether or not this practical concern wins out or if the teachers’ unions insist on a return to school because the more parents and kids get used to remote schooling the more likely they will want options for at least part time remote classrooms, and that would erode unions‘ power.
That question fascinates me, but my writing time is done for the day. I owe someone at church an email about a virtual Easter services brainstorm, and Jim and one of the girls have just arrived from the grocery. Time to unload. ...And that sidetracked me for the rest of the evening. Since I don’t have deadlines anymore, I rarely write at night. I usually ended up regretting it or rewriting the next morning. Today at title and picture and posting.
Until the next story.