We’re all coming unglued

At the risk of sounded like a spoiled, entitled Karen (I had to look that up), I’m freaking done with this stay-at-home shit.

As I’ve documented ad nauseam in previous posts, our family has been hunkered down since March 15. As Governor Inslee tightened the restrictions, we did as we were told. Back then, my city was the epicenter of coronavirus. CDC officials got takeout at my favorite falafel place in Juanita Village. I was scared shitless that the virus was going to come in through the windows and doors.

My friend Robyn called me in early April, freaking out about the news that Mayor Garcetti had urged Angelenos to wear masks in public. Remember, back in early April, the CDC was begging people to leave the masks for the first responders. It felt very scary for a public official to make a different recommendation. Did he know something we didn’t? Were we all going to die?

There’s been lots of little freak-outs ever since then, but I’ve always managed to pull myself together, and solider on. What choice did I have? It’s not like I could decamp to my luxurious (and fictional) beachfront oasis. And even if I could, the local residents might show up with pitchforks. So we stayed in.

It’s now the end of April. My house is a disaster, no matter what I do. Steve is trying to work and trying to stay calm every time one of the kids calls out “Daaaad?” My kids are losing their minds in different ways. I am Evan’s personal second grade teacher, his disciplinarian, and his only playmate. Bini is self-winding with his schoolwork, until he gets frustrated and the whole family gets sucked into his umbrage tornado.

We try to stay positive, and point out the necessity of protecting ourselves and other people. And my kids, they take that seriously. But they feel the strain, the strangeness of being cooped up for weeks and weeks, and it smashes up against this important duty we’re doing for others. There’s nowhere to put that fear, and confusion. And the adults in their lives? We don’t have any answers. That’s freaking bananas for a kid, not to mention two kids from trauma.

Bini argues with everything we say. Oh, I hear you out there — that’s what adolescents do. No. No. Noooooo. This is extreme. Every interaction with our almost-12-year-old son ends in yelling and slammed doors. We try ignoring his behavior — the breathtaking displays of impudence. It tests every bit of patience that we possess as parents. But Steve and I understand that he’s struggling, that we’re all struggling, and he misses his friends. He misses school. He misses being away from us for six hours a day. 

And so I’ve tried, within the confines of what we’re allowed, to help him.  I’ve engineered FaceTime group chats with his friends, and he’s not interested. I forced him to go on a socially distant bike ride with his friend up the street and he kept insisting that it wasn’t allowed, it wasn’t allowed. I’ve tried talking to him, but he shuts me down.

And then there’s Evan, our formerly happy-happy-joy-joy boy. The first two weeks of having Mommy as teacher were SO much fun! We looked for specimens to look at under his microscope. We did chalk drawings. He ripped through workbook pages and delighted in his Outschool classes, which I put him in until the school district could get its ever-loving act together.

And then, as soon as we started getting packets from his teacher, he rebelled. Evan, usually cooperative, refused to do his work. He would moan and cry about the four zillion learning websites he now has to do, every day, every week. I implored his teacher for a 5-minute confab over Microsoft Teams, or Skype, or whatever. After 24 hours without a word, I nudged her again and she replied with a terse email for us to read aloud to Evan. Was it effective? What do you think?

Today, Evan had an Outschool class with all of his friends. And he stood with his back to us and patently refused to do it.

Evan bag
Evan, wearing a bag on his head.

“But it’s your friends!” I pointed out.

“No it’s not! It’s just them on a computer!” Evan yelled. “It’s not the same!”

I appreciate the way that everyone (except Evan’s elementary school teacher) has stepped up and adapted to this abrupt and terrifying sea change. Our karate studio figured it out. Bini’s tutor figured it out. My friends and I figured it out. But it’s not enough, it’s not OK, it’s not normal, and we’re all coming fucking unglued.

What am I going to do about it? Nothing. I’m going to do nothing, except write this damn post and complain. And then I’m going to go downstairs, empty my dishwasher for the 47th time, and make a dinner my kids won’t eat. And then, we do it all again.



Working mom, constantly interrupted

That about sums it up.

My delightful friend, Jennifer, reminded me over the weekend that I hadn’t blogged in awhile. That’s not entirely true. I haven’t blogged for free in awhile, but I’ve been blogging like it’s my job since April. Because it is my job. In April, I started a contract gig as a communications consultant for a super-cool nonprofit organization.  I blog, and do social media, and edit things and write things. I work from home.

Working at home has its advantages, particularly when your awesome nanny cleans and does laundry and empties the dishwasher. I don’t have to commute anywhere. I can sit around in my pajamas all day. I don’t have to take a shower. (I do take a shower. Usually.)

The big issue I find is keeping my head in the game. Being at home, it’s easy to get distracted by laundry that needs to be folded, counters that could be wiped and clumps of fur on the carpet from my mangy cat. I’m also the one who’s taking the kids to their dentist appointments, organizing the play dates, doing the grocery shopping and planning the social schedule. I’m still the stay-at-home parent, trying to do most of what I used to do. And mostly, failing.

It’s possible for me to fit in 20 hours a week. But my chock-a-block schedule makes it hard to get — and stay — in the zone.

Here, I’ve outlined today, an average day. I’m expecting sympathy, FYI:

7:15: Awakened by two children crawling on me, and an aggressively purring cat.

7:20: Realize that I still have a toothache. Also, that I way overdid my workout yesterday, and my left hip hurts like a bitch.

7:22: Hobble downstairs.

8:00: Call my dentist. Confer about toothache. Schedule root canal for Friday, when I was hoping to be working. Fix lunches, clean up kitchen. “We’re out of compost bags,” says Steve. Add to mental list.

9:15: Put on a baseball hat that says “Grumpy,” throw on clothes, brush teeth and drive Evan to camp. (Bini has been delivered to his camp by Steve.)

9:30: Stop at Walgreen’s to buy compost bags, batteries and Sharpies.

9:45: Work.

10:30: Notice that Kona is filthy and needs her nails trimmed. Call grooming place and book appointment for noon.

10:35: Work.

11:45: Leash up Kona and walk to the groomers. Feel virtuous about getting some exercise, spending quality time with dog, and doing an errand. (Win-win-win!)

12:10: Realized I am unshowered, and hungry. Turn on oven with the intention of roasting beets that have been in the crisper for a week.

12:15: Answer e-mail.

12:25: Shower and do minimum grooming.

12:55: Make sad lunch and carry it up my office.

1:00: Conference call.

1:25: Notice that my battery is at 17 percent, and that the charger for my new MacBook isn’t working.

1:33: Log off, race to Apple store.

1:45: Arrive at Apple Store. Informed by idiot Apple employee that I have to wait an hour to see a “Genius.” Reply in a way that could be characterized as hostile. Receive new charger, for free.

2:00 Kona is done being bathed. Remember, as I’m driving, that the groomer does not accept credit cards. Pull into grocery store to buy something and get cash.

2:10 Grocery store does not have flank steak, the only thing I need. Buy skirt steak instead.

2:15 Park in loading zone to pick up Kona.

2:20: Get yelled at by meter maid.

2:25 Arrive home.

2:30: Work.

3:05: Bini comes home from art camp. I take a break to say hello and make him a snack.

3:15: Work.

4:00: Realize that I left the oven on. And forgot to roast the beets.

4:15: Mangy cat vomits on carpet, because she hasn’t been brushed since April. Clean up vomit. While doing that, realize that I’ve had damp clothes in the washing machine since Monday, and they smell a bit off. Rewash clothes.

4:35: Work.

5:50: Walk downstairs to listen to last 10 minutes of Bini’s piano lesson.

5:55: Bini says: “I never see you, Mom.” Heart breaks.

6:00: Release the nanny, begin dinner/bath/bedtime routine.

8:30: Yell at Evan for requesting water for the 50th time.

8:40: Write blog, sulking.

8:45: Realize that I need to update my blog image to include Evan, who we adopted over a year ago.

9:11: Work.

Hey, thanks for listening.