All Illinois schools are closed. Every.single.school. And my children’s school is closed through mid-April. We’re looking at over a month of at-home time.
As funny as I insist on being, at pretty much all times, sometimes I’m serious. And yesterday I felt a deep gut punch. I found myself wiping away tears from my five-year-old’s face because he’s upset that school closed and he’s a little overwhelmed with all the routine changes. Out of nowhere, his little face scrunched up and he tried, but he couldn’t hold back the tears that exploded from his eyes. I immediately scooped him up, asking why he was feeling scared and he said “I just don’t want to talk about it.”
This is really hard on the kids too. Maybe harder than some of them are showing. Maybe harder than some of them want to talk about. And sure, they play and laugh, but they have big feelings and questions too. And as scary as it is for us grown-ups with fully developed brains (our Executive Branch not withstanding), to our children’s brains, that are very much still developing, this is really fucking scary and hard. So, my PSA today is: remember that, honor that, and take a deep fucking breath when your kids have a meltdown, because we adults are hoarding toilet paper and snacks and having grown-up ass meltdowns too. Kettle, meet pot. (And some of us here in Illinois are hoarding the latter as well.)
Can we get back to the jokes now?
Yes, yes we can.
Day Two of Precautionary Social Isolation With Two Rambunctious Kids Under Ten Hot Tips:
I like big forts and I cannot lie! This was funnier before Palin effectively ruined the song this week. Yet another sign the apocalypse is upon us. There is nothing more time consuming and imagination expanding than good old fashioned indoor fort building. Blankets, boxes, pillows, couch cushions, whatever you and your littles can get your quarantined hands on. And if you’ve panic bought enough TP for your kids to build an indoor igloo, we’ll suspend our judgement. But just this once.
Constructing forts takes cooperation, imagination, spacial skills, problem solving, and so much more. One more way to wear them out mentally so they aren’t just body-slamming each other minute by minute for the next month. Or are those just my kids? I digress. Let the kids leave up their forts. We’ve all got time on our hands. Maybe they’ll add an addition over the next couple weeks. Maybe they’ll vanish and leave you alone for a few hours while you tackle another sassy article. Or read your new book in peace. Maybe you have a video conference while working from home and you don’t want a sideshow that you’re trying to elbow off screen. Whatevs, as long as they go and play and give you a hot second to catch your breath. (If you really can’t catch your breath, please follow the CDC instructions here and call your doctor or local hospital! Seriously!)
Our kids have grown up in a globally connected world. In many cases, kids are budding tech gurus before the age of five. The good news is, tech still hasn’t completely replaced their passion for good old fashioned face-to-face play. Think about how they spend a majority of their weekdays: with their peers, face-to-face. And now, without much preparation, that’s gone!
We’re only a couple days in and my kids already asked for play dates and I’m like, okay, let’s give it a few days, babe. Problem-solving is my jam so I figured out a way to get around these requests while staying safe. I’m encouraging my son to FaceTime his friends as much as he can and wants to. I’ve let some of the parents know we’re open to this. If you’re one of my parent friends reading this and I haven’t explicitly texted you, this applies to you and your offspring too! Shit’s wild right now, guys, sorry.
Our kids desperately need moments of normalcy during such an uncertain time and if what we can give them is an hour of walking around with a shaky camera showing their friends their Pokemon card collection and creating private Rocket League rooms on their Nintendo Switches, then I’m giving them all the time for that. So let your kids FaceTime the shit out of the day with their buddies. While I can’t approve their request for an in-person playdates, I can do the virtual playdates until their little pure hearts are content. They’re less likely to remember actually feeling isolated while in isolation. You’ll probably score some cool parent points and we can always use a handful of those from time-to-time.
Don’t kid yourself either, we all enjoy it when our kids think we did something cool. I see you there, cool-point denier. V-fingers to my eyes then pointed to you.
But in all seriousness. I have legit inquiry:
Why are YA Chicagaons still doing St. Paddy’s Day bar crawl celebrations? I saw you outside today, youths, and hey, you just cost yourself good-kid points with your mom.