“Mom! I need to tell you something!”
“Yes, baby,” I reply to my young son.
There is a painful, dramatic long pause, as his brain formats the next sentence — or perhaps shuts down all together, rotten from hours of television.
He holds the remote in his right hand, thoughtlessly like a security blanket but a mostly protective measure to retain control.
Soon he will explode into animation, and offer a lesson on xenomorphs, demogorgons or the other mysterious creature of the day.
I will feign excitement, maintaining my gaze at the computer screen, and encourage his brilliance. He really is smart! Who knew there were face huggers, queens, warriors and newborn aliens at 5 years old? I’m semi-disturbed but relieved as his eyes return to the TV; I am hopeful to get another 30 minutes done before lunch.
This is the life of a mom who now works from home, trying to keep a child entertained (not to mention educated), a household from falling apart, a family safe. There are millions of parents like me across the country.
My desk is a TV tray positioned on the corner of a sofa, easily accessible to each member of the family — human and furry. Sometimes I get stuck on the same work task for an hour, as I balance the requirements of one child, two dogs and necessary communication with co-associates in various locations.
About midday, I’ll take a long break, so my pre-K student can do assignments and Reading Eggs on my laptop, on loan from The Monitor with a remote log-in feature I couldn’t be more grateful for.
It’s amazing that my husband, a third-shift essential worker, can sleep through the racket. With few options to avoid close contact at his employment facility, he’s banished himself to the guest bedroom.
Excessively cautious, he has spent a lot of money on his own personal protective equipment and disinfectants, and follows the suggested rules — removing his uniform before entering the house, showering immediately, then getting his clothes in the washing machine and wiping down all the surfaces he’s touched.
We try not to worry, but we’re all a little concerned. Even when the shelter-at-home mandate is lifted, there will be anxiety.
“Mom! Come see this,” my son shouted from the living room last week.
He was binge-watching his favorite YouTubers.
“They have coronavirus at their house? And Ryan, too? And FGTeeV?”
“Mmhmmm,” I nodded. “Everyone is staying home and staying safe.”
We’ve talked about the germs we’re staying away from, but he’s just sassy enough to need to hear it from his verified sources.
The lightbulb above his little head seemed to burn brighter, then shut off abruptly as his thoughts shifted again.
“Can I have some popcorn?” he asked.
These children certainly have not remembered their school stomach schedules, now set for every hour instead of three.
He had barely finished his morning meal; there is no bedtime, no schedule, only survival in chaos, and time means nothing to any of us anymore. So when he asks for a Lunchable for breakfast and Eggos for dinner, I oblige.
Comfort is a desire for us all.