Before COVID-19, I logged thousands of miles on the van, plowing through audio books, yelling at boys, and listening to NPR. We went to therapists, doctors, schools, Taco Bell, and sports. Then, it all came to a disorienting halt. We were told to stay home. The introverts couldn’t believe it—really? Stay home? Our oldest son worked and schooled from his room, appearing briefly for dinner. The younger boys, Jonathan and Mario, began remote learning and in-house pestering.
Online schooling had its ups and downs. There was a steep learning curve for those of us who had not kept current with new technology. The boys no longer had their familiar routines and the all-important structure and role-modeling they needed. But they could still see a few of their friends and some of their teachers. Best of all, they could see them in their native habitats. The boys and I beheld sleep-deprived teachers in their dining rooms, sixth-graders with COVID hair lounging on their parents’ beds, and parents with COVID hair lying in those beds. We offered views of an occasional empty screen, my unfolded laundry, and two distracted boys.
The boys’ teachers were employing their organizational skills as never before. Jon’s extremely organized intervention specialist was now preternaturally organized, scheduling one hundred Zoom meetings per week between students and aides or teachers. Soon, I was Zooming along with Jon and his instructors and hanging out in Google with Mario’s friends. Mario’s intervention specialists and teachers sent detailed instructions for me to follow. So did Jon’s teachers. So did the therapists. As I printed pages of instructions and assignments and stuffed them into binders, my usual state of low-grade disorganization became something to aspire to. Jon liked working online. Mario needed many, many prompts and rewards to do anything. Surprisingly, his preferred COVID rewards were joyrides in Caleb's car and instructional videos of wheelchair lifts.
Jeff—after doing his scholarly duties—took care of the garden. Before COVID, he went on annual two-week college trips to Costa Rica and Africa and implored us to weed while he was gone. The garden has never looked so fine.
Jeff remarked the other day that he finally had a stay-at-home wife. (Remember the thousands of miles on the van?). Truth be told, I have found gratification in deep cleaning these days. Room by room, I am washing walls, just like mom used to do. While I'm at it, I do a decent cleaning of everything else.
Mario is often a catalyst for unexpected cleaning. He gets his kicks from deconstructing one area and dispersing the items to other areas, such as boxes or bags or cars or places we haven’t yet located. On good days, my mature response is, well, I might as well clean this.
Photos: Best COVID tip—watermelon sticks
A pregnant Bald Cypress (Dawes Arboretum)
A really cool-looking plant (Galena)