When you’re at home more than not, and not “at work,” the way many a person is in the past year, a lot of stuff happens you have to navigate through in order to keep that slice of your world going, while not having an emotional meeting of “Fan & Poop.” What am I talking about?
For 99% of the mornings for the better part of the last 10 months I have been the first one awake. Coffee’s made, Gratitude list is written, light mobility work to wake my older joints up, argue with my cat as if I don’t know she needs to be fed, etc. Then the kids are up, wife’s up, and the day gets going. I make breakfast 98% of the time, because I saw first-hand what a shit morning the kids have if they make breakfast for themselves (either toaster waffles or heaping bowls of cereal). They’re growing and should have a quality fueling before sitting in Living Room Elementary for the day.
Then… about 30min after they start their school day… their first portion of on-line school ends. And I hear the feet moving around… and almost immediately there’s a pit in my stomach because they’re about to approach me about one of these things:
- News about a video game feature they want to purchase. Fortnite, if you’re unfamiliar, has dominated their past calendar year for videogaming. It’s a free download that they have spent, easily, over $500 on. The minimum wage is still $7.25 and they have yet to get a job, so… I instituted a rule that we don’t talk about any videogames before 12:30pm or else screen time is cut in half for the day. Worked like clicking on a Facebook ad for washable, flattering face coverings that one time and now it’s Always On.
- News about a video they saw on YouTube. “This guy was on his bike on this street and, guess what? (the answer is never “Chicken Butt” and you’ve grossly overestimated my desire to play this game) He was doing this thing (white noise swells in my brain) right into a garbage can.” This might be the equivalent of my childhood trying to tell a story of what happened at school or at Ricky Brady’s house when he found some cigarettes. Sorry kids, I checked out. You might see this some day, but I wasn’t listening.
- They’re gonna just stand there waiting for something. It’s a lingering that I sense and it takes me out of whatever I was doing. I’m also the de facto Activity Coordinator, PE Instructor, Math T.A., and Lunch Lad in this school. Now I have to remind them of all the extra stuff they can be doing. And when they’re “bored” or “finished with school” at 10:13am, there’s always the f*cking vacuum cleaner, fellas. OH LOOK WHO HAS EXTRA SPELLING TO PRACTICE…
- Can I Come There For a Minute? This means my wife’s new computer is reacting to something she did or didn’t do and I didn’t see it and it’s freaking out and she needs my help on it. This is where all of my encouragement and directives to use search engines were reiterated to Empower The User, and have gone unheeded. OR this means there’s a box of stuff that I guess we have to sort out Now, and my schedule or plans are moot. So you have to protect your time, as kindly as possible, when this happens in any form. If you can go from activity to activity w/out issue or loss of momentum, Bless Your Heart. I can’t, and if I do, there’s a gremelin in my
So on top of all these things, is the overlay and dichotomous appreciation of the time I’ve spent with my family since being let go from my job last April. It was sad to be let go due to how much I appreciated that job and that company, but in the big picture, a lot of people are far worse off than we are because of the COVID-19 fallout in America and around the world. I have been lucky to have much of our financial and family stability already in place before the crisis hit. I have had some of the most creative – and most emotionally severe – periods of my adult life. And I applied to over 130 jobs in the past year. But that saga is for another entry.
Always being around everyone’s Everything as well as one’s own is probably not healthy. There are days that the voices in this house, and even the sound of someone’s breathing, resulted in my forthcoming statement of “I am leaving, unless you need me here, then I need you to leave, because I need a buffer today, or I’ll be locking myself in the bedroom for two days. Flip ya for it?”
My friend told me that my presence and involvement in my kid’s days and activity, while reupping some professional certifications and networking and applying for jobs, has helped show my kids that being resilient is as important as being consistent. That was kind but also f*cking annoying. Pity Parties are only fun when it’s a “for one.” But after doing it all, I’m ready to as much Nothing as I can for a few days. I better put that on the family calendar.