Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Dads Must Be Crazy CoronaBlog

With The Dads Must Be Crazy podcast going on temporary hiatus, we decided to keep a blog of how our days are going under this new, relative isolation from the rest of the world. This will not be posted every day, but often enough that our home-bound stories about parenting in this "new normal." We will probably post it 3 or 4 days a week. Stay tuned for updates on the podcast. In the meantime, you can check out old episodes at https://niagaraswatercooler.podbean.com/

Day 1:

We’re through one day of the “new normal” for the time being. Before I go any further, please allow me to state how much I despise that term, “new normal.” It ranks right up there with “an abundance of caution” and the newest annoying term -- “social distancing.” Anyway, we’ve made it through the first day of home confinement and no one killed each other at the house. But let’s just say it was definitely a close call. Or rather a series of close calls. Barely 24 hours into this newfangled staycation and the girls are already at each others’ throats.

We tried to work on a schedule the night before so the girls still had some structure to get them through the day. They thrive with structure. Without it, it’s a disaster. Spending about an hour to break the day into various moments of schooling, leisure, reading, and chores seemed like a good reason for a family meeting. We all agreed on the final product and then immediately ignored it when we got to Monday. 

I was out of bed almost 90 minutes before normal because Wendy had a doctor’s appointment first thing in the morning. After we got out, we figured that since we were in Amherst, we should stop for some groceries before heading home. We were not hoarding. However as a family of six, we need semi-regular visits to the store to keep our staples in the house.

We got to the store just as it was opening. Let me tell you, it was ugly. There’s no other word for it. If you’ve ever been to a pond to throw bread to feed the fish, you probably have seen the mad dash by the fish to grab the scraps as they fell into the water. That’s calm compared to what I saw when those doors opened and people made a mad dash to a single pallet of toilet paper. Frankly it was disgusting, as were the empty shelves in the place. I think people were simply buying things to say they had purchased something. It was truly an animalistic experience.

By the time we got home and tried to settle into some kind of routine, it was too late. It was mayhem with the girls. The twins struggled to complete what was, in my opinion, way too much schoolwork, while the younger two ignored school and tried to watch television or talk on the phone. The twins spent all day on that work. Hopefully, after another day of at least a little structure we can ease them into a routine that could last longer than initially thought.

We had the first attitude of the week already when we limited friends from coming over. I’m wary until we know a little more. That sentiment was met with outright hostility. I’m sure there will be more of that until we get things figured out. There is a small beacon of hope on the horizon. Spring and summer are coming. I bet that kills off this virus. At least I hope so. And when it’s done, we are going to have one epic party to put this behind us.

Well, I suppose I should note that my first day’s entry is being written last. That means I’ve had the advantage of reading what my fellow dads have already written. On the other hand, I’m in one of the more unique situations in that I saw my wife out the door this morning and know full well there is a high unlikelihood of her job closing during these times. As has been the norm for essentially the past week, there were stories of craziness at her office, both with how busy it has been and the ridiculousness of some requests. 

Among the things that she and I have been doing recently has been steadily preparing for the inevitable. Like many people, we’ve been to the store. We’re set for a while. We’re not set for the apocalypse like so many seem to be, but we’re set for a while. So far, it looks like grocery stores will be remaining open, and that’s good. However, if we can limit our trips to shop at them to an absolute minimum, that’s even better. Right now, the less person to person interaction, the better.

As far as how today went, I felt good about what I was able to accomplish while fully admitting I could have done more. The reporter in me kept going online to see any new developments. Despite that, I managed to wash the floor in part of my house, clean an area for a new pantry cabinet in our basement, cook lunch for my daughters (my son was at his grandparents house, where he’s been since Friday), do several loads of laundry, cook dinner, and do a Facebook live video during which I read a Little Golden Book with my youngest.

Conspicuously absent from all of what was done today is any school work. It should be noted, though, that it was simply put on the back burner for the day. My older daughter read for a while. My youngest played a few educational video games. The two of them took a walk to their grandparents’ house and back - which was just about the length of a gym class. It’s not like they just loafed on the couch doing nothing all day. To be fair, though, they took their walk after watching Frozen and rewarded their exercise by watching Frozen II. Somehow, when they watch these two movies, their sisterly bond seems to strengthen.

There is plenty to look forward to in the days and weeks ahead. I’ve already got my youngest excited about baking muffins, and we’ll be continuing to read and doing some of the online work her teacher has uploaded. My older daughter needs to be shown how to access some stuff, but once she does, she’ll be getting done what she needs to get done.

The silver lining to all of this has got to be the amount of people on line on various social media platforms who have volunteered their services to help out kids who might have questions. Parents with kids at home are getting creative, and I love it. We’re even getting creative, too, as this is a new avenue for us to talk about dad-ing. 

Heading into Tuesday, I have a car trip I must make with my son unless we get notified that it is unnecessary. Otherwise, I foresee more housework getting done to the smell of slow cooked corned beef and cabbage because it’s still St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s a delectable meal!

In the back of my mind though, I’m going to be worried about a call or text from my wife. In her line of work, with everything going on, to say I’m nervous about her well-being is quite an understatement. 

I woke up this morning and was dreading the day ahead. The news media has been rife with updates on the coronavirus and much of it is bad news. “Get up,” I tell myself. I have to get moving.

Crawling out of bed I realize that coffee has already been made. The smell entices me to continue moving and get my day started. Today is the usual day that my wife and I clean the dojo where we train with our children. My wife eats some breakfast , as do I. We rush to get dressed so that we can get this part of our day over with and hopefully move on to more positive news from the circus that is known as the media.

As I am about to leave the house, I see a post on social media that says there is stocked food at one of the local grocery stores. The post was only a few minutes old so I had hoped that I would be able to get some of the missing supplies I need to continue to provide for my family.

My wife and I leave the house with the utmost haste. We arrived and the parking lot was mostly empty. We both figured that this had the potential to be bad or good. Bad meaning everyone but us knows they have no food, or good in that the rest of the community has not hit this particular store up yet. Immediately upon walking inside I can see that there is food on the shelves. I only need a bag of flour, a bag of sugar, and a box of cereal. To my surprise they had them. However, the meat and dairy sections were not stocked and most of the shelf space was bare. This included eggs and milk which are both perishable and make no sense to me. Then it hits me, we need yeast too! Alas, there is none. Crap.

We check out and proceed to return home. We drop off our newly acquired supplies and then head to the dojo. There is a store next to the dojo, so we decided to make a quick trip inside and grab some coffee and see if by chance there was any yeast. Coffee is there but again no yeast.

Just to be clear, it is not the virus that I fear at this point. I am concerned most definitely about the virus because I have a child who is at a higher risk of developing a serious illness because of a pre-existing medical condition. What I fear the most is the public going into full panic mode and the U.S becomes the Thunderdome. The other thing I fear is not being able to feed my family. Some of my kids have food allergies and all of the “nut” milks cannot be consumed by them.

For the most part, this first day has not been terrible. There are new restrictions on gyms, restaurants, and casinos. I am not concerned about those. We have enough food for a bit, and I think the country and the world will make it to the other side of this pandemic and be stronger. My kids are resilient, and I am hopeful this will not become traumatic in any way for them. School work is getting done via the internet, Netflix is still working, and life is moving forward, differently, but still forward. I would encourage calmness during this time and wish every family safety, security, and togetherness during this trying time.