A Day in the Life of Isolation
May 17, 2020 § Leave a comment
Ever since that Friday the thirteenth in March where everything changed, I’ve been getting up at 5:30AM every other day to make sure I have enough time to do my yoga practice before the whole house wakes up. My alarm goes off at 5:30, I head downstairs right away to turn on the coffee maker, then back upstairs wash my face and carry down the baby monitor and my phone. Then I sip my coffee and eat a banana while scrolling through my phone, waiting for the caffeine to kick in.
This morning, I read this satisfying piece in the Atlantic by Stanley Tucci in which he recounts a normal day for he and his family during this phase of not normal (bonus: it includes recipes). It’s so relatable and reassuring to read that we’re all more or less doing the same things. Those of us with children anyways. Even though we’ve been doing this stay-at-home and physical distancing thing for 66 days and it’s very exhausting with two small children, I am wise enough to know that when it’s over, I will miss it. In the spirit of indulging my sentimental side, here’s a typical day for the Storches in these COVID times.
(I already mentioned that I’ve been waking up early every other day to practice yoga, so let’s say this is an off day.)
Henry jumps into bed between Nick and I, humming the Highway Thru Hell theme song. He cuddles with us for a few minutes, while also compiling a long to-do list for the day, 95% of which are things for US to do for HIM (Nick to build new LEGO tow trucks with him, Nick to order specific LEGO pieces online for a vision of a tow truck he has, me to look up how-to’s in Minecraft, me to be his camera person for filming his own videos).
Henry gets free reign of the TV downstairs while Nick stays in bed as long as possible and I get Charlie The Wonder Sleeper from his room.
All four of us sit on the couch, watching Henry’s choice of TV, most likely a LEGO/Highway Thru Hell Youtube DIY video made by a very nerdy Canadian teenager.
Nick and I are awake now, drinking our various caffeinated beverages. Charlie gets tired of Henry’s show and plays nicely by himself with Duplo or a puzzle. I look at the clock and remember how this time used to mean that I’d be telling everyone to do their last minute before school things – teeth brushed, lunch packed, library books in backpack, etc and wonder how hard it will be when we finally have somewhere to be again.
Finally turn off the TV and have breakfast at the table, usually accompanied by toys.
I shower while Nick hangs out with the kids downstairs.
Nick retreats upstairs for the rest of the morning to shower and work. I get the boys into the backyard and/or alley. I am already tired by this time from getting them and myself dressed, brushing teeth, tying tow truck hooks back on strings, solving and cleaning up puzzles, opening and taking out play-doh from containers, drawing things Henry wants me to draw so he can colour in, and other little things that add up to a lot of frantic movement.
Kids start fighting over random toys in the backyard they don’t care enough about to bring inside when it rains, but are somehow the most special item to them because the other one started playing with it. Time to distract with snacks!
A few minutes of near-silence while kids wander the backyard aimlessly, munch on goldfish, and drink juice boxes.
Kids are playing pretty happily so I slip inside, literally right on the other side of the glass door from where they are, to start making lunch. They notice immediately and start opening and closing the door 46 times calling for me to “come see this!”
Herd kids inside and to the sink to wash their hands. Henry eats his daily grilled cheese with the crust cut off and mini cucumbers. Charlie eats one of his daily selections of Amy’s mac & cheese. I eat with them, but usually a third option (because I enjoy being a short order cook?)
Both kids have a second (or third) wind and go crazy until nap time.
I put Charlie down for his nap.
Henry video chats with his teacher and a couple of his other classmates that also feel like joining in. Henry treats this time as show-and-tell.
I work furiously for an hour and a half and drink my second coffee, while sitting beside Henry who’s watching TV or doing one of his video game-like school assignments.
I bust out my most subtle influencing skills (this is so exhausting and challenging) to convince Henry to do some schoolwork online that he never wants to do, no matter what it is. This usually includes bringing tow trucks or Highway Thru Hell or even bathroom humour into the assignment to get him to think it’s fun and actually complete it. Then I light a candle on my shrine to elementary teachers in gratitude and appreciation.
Time to wake up Charlie. He doesn’t want to wake up yet, but I want him to go to bed again 4 hours later, so too bad, kid. Henry follows us into his room, yell-talking and making Charlie whine because it’s not an enjoyable way to wake up.
I begin dinner and it’s time to switch from coffee to beer or wine. I attempt to deflect all the kids’ various needs back to the TV so that I can cook while Nick takes his 400th phone call of the day upstairs.
We eat. Henry finishes first and asks for “I-C-E cream” as though Charlie hasn’t figured out his sneaky secret code by now.
I pretend to be an ice cream truck and make paper money for the kids to spend on ice cream. SHHHHH DON’T TELL HENRY THAT HE’S LEARNING ANYTHING.
Bath time. Charlie whines that he doesn’t want to get into the tub. Henry leaps and runs around naked and screaming. I convince Charlie to get into the tub by filling it with various baking tools or offering an “ice cream bath” if we’ve held off on ice cream until this time. Nick and I switch back and forth off of bath duty until the floor is soaked and they’ve made me several “coffees” from their bath tub coffee shop.
We drain the water and Charlie won’t get out even though Henry’s gone and he’s naked and wet in an empty tub. I pull him out into a towel despite his protests.
Nick yells at Henry to get his pajamas on while trying to deal with last minute work emails and calls. Henry huddles into a troll-like shape in his towel and crawls along the hallway. I get Charlie into pajamas while he looks at Henry in the hallway and shrieks with laughter at his weirdo brother.
Both kids are dressed and Nick’s back. Kids go bananas in Henry’s room. I say goodnight to Henry while pulling Charlie off his bed.
Nick and I collapse into bed and watch TV, scroll on phones, and if we have the energy, talk.
Whine that we don’t want to go to bed yet because it’s going to start all over the next day.