Welcome to the pandemic, where half of my social media feed consists of people extolling the virtues of staying in and working on new projects (didja know Shakespeare wrote King Lear while quarantined?) and the other half of my feed have young children.
I apparently have an introvert-heavy feed, as no one gives a shit about going out, except to bring children to daycare or school.
I am home, as always, with my infant daughter and (new!) my husband and preschool-aged son. If it were the two adults, or even the two adults and the baby, we’d be fine. I have to force myself out of the house at the best of times. But an active preschooler who needs everything just so (“He’s very particular,” says his preschool teachers. “He knows exactly what he wants.”) is not exactly a Shakespearean-style quarantine.
There are a lot of online suggestions for keeping kids occupied while schools are closed. I am unconvinced that they were made with real preschoolers in mind, though I remind myself that I signed him up for daycare as a toddler when it became abundantly clear to me that guiding a young mind through any sort of structured activity on a daily basis was not among my skill-sets. No one can love him more than me, I said, but someone else can teach him to put on his shoes.
Subscribing to Disney+ only gets us so far.
In the midst of all this, I am taking a poetry class. I did not think I’d be writing poetry in the middle of a pandemic, but here we are. In the middle of a pandemic, not writing poetry.
The saving grace of this situation is that it’s shaken me out of the slothlike low-level depression of being home with a baby all day. Instead I am in full anxiety-fueled problem solving mode, scanning depleted grocery store shelves for more things we should have on hand lest we become too ill to shop. I bought instant noodles in the event that one of us needs to self-isolate in the bedroom and the other is too busy wrangling two children to bring up food; we could keep the kettle in there.
Amazon is shutting down. Is that in Canada too? Should I buy all the things now while I can? My kid has found every toy in the house already and we have nineteen more days of this to go, that we know of. (I cannot think beyond that.)
One of the poetry exercises involved writing a list of words, and all of mine had to do with this coronavirus.
Today at the grocery store, I ran into a woman I’ve seen at daycare pickup. I don’t know her name, or her kid’s name, but we’re both brown so we give each other the nod. We made small talk at a distance, which is the longest conversation we’d ever had, but I am hungry for regular, every day human interaction, even though I hate people.
The anniversary of my dad’s death is in a few days. This will have to be postponed. But making cake for my husband’s birthday is a child-occupying activity, so we will make cake. I hope our babysitter is free once this is all over. The last time she was here she had just got a part in a play, and I’m sure that is cancelled now.
Friends of mine met for brunch last Saturday. We hesitated, but met while we still could. Restaurants are closed now. I’m glad I went, and saw some of my people before we went underground. I have not been seeing enough people lately, but never mind that now. We saw my 82 year old father-in-law that day too. I wonder if that will be the last time we see him, although he is (fortunately) a misanthropic hermit on his best days, and I cannot think beyond a blank cement wall spray-painted with “Everything will be fine.”
I wish I had never seen the Walking Dead, not even the excellent first season where they actually cared about the pandemic. Rick was in a coma for just two months, and look what happened.
I started out hyperfocusing on the data, but I can’t keep track of all of Canada now. I look up Ontario’s numbers each day, but I don’t remember how it grown. I can’t keep track enough to write a post about how I am not writing, and fuck all you people with projects.
So let me just say, if you able to make use of this weird-ass time, more power to you but shut up. The rest of us are just getting through.
We have food, we have toilet paper, we have public health. We have anxiety, we have active children, we have no idea when this will end.