Getting Creative in a Time of Covid
There are few things I struggle with more than isolation. I am an extrovert. I crave human interaction. However, with social distancing, I have had to resign myself to Zoom meetings, FaceTime with friends and family, and a reliance on wonderful online communities to fill this void. I've had to be creative because this is what I need to do. Now, especially, it is my duty to stay away from others in the public.
On Friday, I found out that I could have possibly been exposed to Covid through a coworker's exposure to another colleague. We talked on Tuesday - two weeks ago almost now - and while I have 0 symptoms (as does he), it is my duty to stay away as much as possible. I called the IU Health hotline and was told I didn't really need to do this. I am in the clear on Tuesday. It's also seriously unlikely that I would be an asymptomatic carrier with my asthma. However, I'm doing what I should. I am not going into stores. I'm riding my bike and practicing social distance on walks. We should all be doing this. There is word that we will be "shelter in place" by next week here in Indiana. I hope it happens as hard as I know it will be for other people. I think it's necessary since I see so many people out unnecessarily hanging out places while I'm on my bike - in large groups. I want more protection for workers who deserve pay in this time of crisis, of course. I want to make sure everyone can weather this. My husband and I will continue to work. His work only wants one person in the office at any time. People will need to enter the building while his door will remain closed. Anyone who needs anything will have to stay 6 ft from him. Everyone will be washing hands and using sanitizer. Sadly, his job does require him to be there. The university is depending on him so it can continue to run. The bike is an interesting thing because before, I was racking up enough mileage commuting that I didn't have to worry about anything else. I reached my goals, regardless. I've had to be creative to keep somewhat on track. This means riding during lunchbreaks - weather permitting. It also means some of my mileage is put on hold because I have a toddler who needs exercise. Some days, she rides, and I have to make up that mileage on weekends.
When I pull Ruth on days off when her dad and I can't flex his schedule or mine, we can't go to parks anymore. We have to make do with stops along the day to learn about nature, to read signs, and to explore things just off the path. We smile at people we see but stay far from them. We may wave to them and say hello as we pass. And, I'm seeing other people innovate. I've seen a lot of families and friends on the trail who are walking on opposite sides of the trail. This scared me while passing for the first few times where I would ring my bell and shout "okay, threading the needle" which they usually kindly acknowledged with a hand up. That makes me nervous. Of course, then I thought about it. Why were these people being so "weird"?
Well, probably because they are social distancing. I noted that a number of these folks were doing so with college-aged kids. I saw a family (I assumed) get in separate cars to leave. I am assuming students may be trying to separate from their parents after being forced out of dorms across the country or returning from a possible exposure over spring break. This is their way of getting out and seeing their parents who they may be staying in separate parts of the house from, using separate cars, etc. Humans are getting really creative. We've had to change the way we parent as well. I used to be opposed to screens but now they are our sanity. They let us get work done. They are our way of communicating with educators who we've been displaced from. They give us a break from constant parenting and being teachers. They allow family and friends to reach out to us safely and make us feel the love. We work in IT so it's not that we're opposed to tech. I did a build on a box we had in the house that my husband primarily uses so that I can now have two work stations this week. That was for "fun". But it's not how we prefer to parent. Our kid has historically struggled with the transition on and off screens. We've had to work on that. It has, surprisingly, been better these days. She knows there is a schedule for screen time. She knows the tablet, the tv, phones, the X Box, and the Switch will eventually go away for part of they day. She also knows they are an incentive for doing things we need her to help with like chores. She now has to clean up the living room a couple times of days. She has to help throw things away in the kitchen while I cook.
This experience has taught me a few things. First of all, technology is boss. Second of all, all parenting mantras pre-plague are out the window. Our expectations are lower than ever and we're slogging through. Finally, I have to take stock of how good we actually have it. We're healthy for now. We have food and shelter and a savings account. We have jobs which need to still continue.
I remind myself this is not forever. And even if we just get a brief respite, I'm going to never take this for granted. Even if we have to social distance again, if we get a break, we will live it up like no one's business. That's how it has to be.