Social distancing is bringing my family closer together.
Like most kids around the region, our children started spending 24 hours a day inside our home amid fears of the coronavirus snatching them up and turning them into zombies. Well, that’s what they think can happen. In reality, people their age are just good carriers for a virus that could kill off people with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly.
Like most adults around the region, my wife and I feared the bloodbath that would certainly ensue when our daughters, ages 6 through 18, starting spending every moment of every day with them. We were especially concerned when last Saturday, when they hadn’t even missed a day of school yet, they started arguing nonstop about the most mundane things, such as one of the girls standing outside the bedroom of another girl.
I know we’re only one week into a period of no contact with the outside world. Knock on wood, this government-imposed lockdown has been pretty good for my family.
It’s been awful for my wife and me. Most of my day is spent sharing how the virus has affected or could affect our lives. It’s fast-paced and consuming, given the speed at which things change. I suspect I’ll never see another election canceled at the last minute, for instance, a “will they or won’t they” situation that rivaled Ross and Rachel getting together on “Friends.”
While annoying, things have been much worse for my wife, who works at a nursing home. That’s sort of like walking around with a bull’s-eye on your back with COVID-19, which seems to love targeting the weak and the elderly. She’s worked longer hours than normal in trying to adapt to federal and state rules that constantly change and sometimes don’t feel that great to implement.
So how, exactly, could social distancing — this plan to try to keep strangers apart to try to slow the spread of the virus — be good for my family?
For the first time since they were preschoolers, my children greet me with a hug when I come home from work.
They have nowhere they need to be … no sports games, no play practices, no dance lessons, no piano. Usually our family calendar is full from after school through 9 p.m. Now, there’s nothing, just family time.
Most nights, sometime around 8 p.m., we all end up in our living room together. Despite all the time they’re spending together, they still find a way to be clever and funny and interesting together. On Wednesday night, they were quizzing each other on how well they knew one another, such as favorite kinds of shoes, what color they wished their bedrooms were and if they’d ever kissed a boy (not dad) yet.
After long days at work, I’ll admit I’ve been pretty passive in absorbing this family time. I’ve tried to play along as best as I could, knowing they have a lot more energy stored up than I do. It’s been fun, though, to see them willingly gathering and being together as a family when they could just as easily hide in their rooms.
For all the things that have changed in the past two weeks, family remains. As long as I have that, I know it’s worth fighting through the other nonsense to keep them protected and loved so I can see them again each night.