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Jul 08th
Life Under Lockdown PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stuart Sheldon, BT Contributor   
June 2020

Lessons, rivalries, and memories

MPix_FamilyMatters_6-20y nuclear family has been lucky thus far. We four are locked down together. And while I could pile onto the hilarious memes about the agonies of homeschooling and the close proximity of rambunctious tween boys who cannot, for the life of them, pick up their socks, that very proximity has shown each of us things we would not otherwise have seen. COVID has made small victories more grandiose. And there have been many small victories.

Now let’s be clear, ours is not a harmonious family. My sons’ fierce sibling rivalry is constant and cruel. Though not typically physical, it displays a no-holds-barred psychological warfare, and the ongoing collateral damage is our parental sanity. The pain we experience is doubled by the fact that if they just barely got along, most of the time we’d be living a dream; such is the level of our good fortune.

Three months into fairly strict isolation, my kids’ relationship has improved. Admittedly, the bar was low to begin, and a new X-box has provided something they do enjoy together. But we’ll take whatever we can get. “We’re laughing, playing, not fighting at all,” my ten-year-old told me. “And we’re smiling, talking.” That’s not entirely accurate, but far closer to the mark than we had pre-COVID. This is a major, heartwarming win for us all, a pivot point that, I imagine, they’ll discuss as grown men looking back on the great plague of 2020.

Like kids in any self-respecting family, our sons have chores. That’s not to say they do their chores with a smile and a song. Bickering about whose turn it is to clear the table and who will wash the inside versus outside of the car has always been standard operating procedure. For my wife and me, this daily blather has been death by a thousand cuts. But early on in the lockdown, we sat down as a family and made it clear to the boys that times were different now. That this was bigger than us. That because the whole world was suffering and had to change its attitude, so did we. Life was now about we, and not me.

Amazingly, they got it from day one. And now the dishes get washed, laundry gets folded, and beds get made with little pushback. It was as if we fast-forwarded the maturation of their self-reliance overnight.

In mid-May, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that Twitter employees can work from home forever. That simple statement encapsulates one of the seismic course corrections that humanity can expect to see going forward. Working remotely is not only doable, it’s often far more efficient and effective for both workers and companies.

For many, this means no more rotting in Biscayne Boulevard traffic during your commute. And for companies, it means less brick-and-mortar overhead. As a family, we just witnessed the next domino in the Internet’s unstoppable alteration of human productivity and action. What a monumental moment -- a massive pivot in human behavior akin to the invention of the internal combustion engine or Alexander Graham Bell’s first phone call.

Another radical left turn in our collective reality is that school now equals homeschool for just about everyone. California just announced that the entire 23-school California State University system will keep campuses closed in the fall. And I imagine many of our schools will do likewise.

I give my wife and me a solid B- as homeschool managers. Glennon Doyle, author of the current bestseller Untamed, speaks of radical self-acceptance in these unique times. In other words, if it causes no measurable harm, it’s pretty much acceptable to do in this dystopian madness. It’s okay to sleep in the middle of the day. It’s okay not to be the Tiger Mom right now.

Doyle riffs on how letting kids watch TV all day is perfectly fine homeschooling. Put the subtitles on, and that’s their reading assignment. Periodically ask how much time is left in the show they’re watching, and that’s math. It hasn’t yet come to this in our house, but instead of just grades, what we find important is that our kids be focused and engaged on their Zoom lessons, and that they do their work with a positive attitude.

This epic moment is not about learning the capitals of South America; it’s about reaching out to the people you love in South America. It’s about calling those people regularly, for no reason than to say “I love you,” to shoot the breeze and affirm that we’re all still here, and that when the world reopens, our reunions will be glorious beyond measure. It’s far more about growing our own and our kids’ hearts than their minds.

 

Stuart Sheldon is an award-winning artist, author, and Miami native. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram @stuart_sheldon and his blog, FancyNasty.us.

 

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