I walk around the home at 5:30 am, raising blinds to be met with inky darkness, putting a pot of coffee and logging into work. This is not my usual routine. Nothing about today is normal. Late yesterday evening, I turned off all my alarms and reminders. The ones that wake me, the ones that remind me that it is Library for Laddu, the ones that help me keep track of which child is doing what on each day.
For two weeks, we hit a snooze on all regularly scheduled programming and reset ourselves into this new pattern. Unlike snow days or weekends, we are all homebound. I decline play dates. I walk with my hands in my pockets, snatching sunshine with the air of one stealing something precious. I breathe deeply wondering if viral RNA is traveling up my nostrils into my lungs where they then wreak havoc.
My imagination is vivid. All of the worst-case scenarios that my online world throws up is already a reality in my head. I lose family. I lose my life. I am rudderless in a dystopian world. We eat rice and potatoes into oblivion.
The reality however is that I log in early, I make breakfast for the family. I take my work calls while Saathi helps the twins with their Math stuff for the day. I do my bit downloading apps and setting up schedules. I log off an hour before noon, make lunch, feed the family, sit with Laddu with her Day One packet from school. I even manage the herd the kids to the shower stall and out in record time.
Our afternoon mirrors the morning. We do ELA with the kids, sneak away to be on work calls, churn out documents, parry work questions and keep an eye on the clock. The children are mostly well behaved. They seem to think this is novel and it is in some sense. I remind them to journal, to write down the minute details of these two weeks or more. I tell them this is stuff their grandkids will read in history books. You are living through the 2020 pandemic I say with flair, only that it does not elicit the type of response I expect.
These are truly unprecedented times. These measures will either be hailed as timely or derided as too little too late. Either way, there is little choice for those of us living it. As rule-following nerds, we stay home, minimize contact, conduct our lives virtually refreshing the browser every once in a while, to see the infected numbers rise.
The next few weeks will take its toll. I foresee bored children, frustrated parents, impatient employers and a tanking economy. I also see stories of resilience, of children influenced by what their parents’ model, of communities coming together, of humanity hitting the reset button. Mostly, I see us take this time to build memories, feel grateful for what we have and pray that we make it all out healthy and safe.