COVID-19 Summer In Review: How Did Our Tween/Teens Do?
August 17, 2020
I was talking to Mr. Plastic Picker last night and we both marvelled that it has been almost six months of quarantine. That is indeed remarkable. For Mr. Plastic Picker and I, we have had to go to work most days, shop for food and continue with life. But the two grandparents and our two tween/teen children have been at home mostly. We went to Michael’s once to buy supplies with my daughter. I walked to Sprouts with my son on Saturday to buy pasta sauce. We have taken the odd drive here and there to try to find a bit of green space to sit, or walk along the coast, or play basketball at a tucked away park where there has been some emptiness. The trips have been infrequent. We are always masked and mostly triple the social distance requirements. We still go on our exercise walks and runs, but we are lucky in that our neighborhood has spacious streets. We are able to avoid most people by playing a kind of pedestrian pac-mac. We did go to the dentist to get the kids teeth cleaned. I had never been so grateful that there were no cavities.
But it has been wearing on everyone at home, this 6 month sheltering-in-place. One day I came home and our daughter tattled on the grandparents. A random older neighborhood friend who takes walks daily past our yard and marvels at my MIL’s garden was “IN THE HOUSE!” my daughter said to me. Our son commented on it too. I promptly told my own mother about my MIL’s transgression, who tattled in turn on my own father – who had gone to the neighborhood pharmacy because he was BORED. Mr. Plastic Picker was informed about HIS parents and sternly talked to them. And then there was my own exposure at work. I had eaten in my friends office with my facemask off, because I was eating. I try to sit far away from her, but we are best friends and we work together. She is the only one I occassionally eat with. Infection control asked “WERE YOU EXPOSED MORE THAN 15-MINUTES UNMASKED WITH HER?” I told them in all honestly that if I was exposed than she would be the only one on this dear planet that I could have been exposed to. She offered me an avocado twice that week, and I ate it. I didn’t know how long it took me to eat the avocado, I confessed. For my transgression I did virtual medicine for a day, and had that god-awful COVID-19 swab in my throat and up my left nare. I wanted to vomit that day when the male-nurse rammed that swab up my nose in the drive through COVID-19 testing tent. I tested negative but had been punished.
And today is the beginning of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, and we will also find out if our children’s fancy private school will be granted a waiver to be partially in-person versus virtual. We won’t know until Thursday. Our school with it’s tuition that is almost the mortgage of most single family homes is applying for a special waiver to be in school because money is privilege. The optics are horrible and I don’t understand why they don’t understand that. I hope that we will be on-line like everyone else. Our children have done well in this school setting, but I have perpetual guilt regarding sending my children to private school when I know that the best for society is for there to be excellent public schools and all of our children to go to school together. But I only have my two, and when I embarked on parenting the first few years it did not go as well as I planned. Our school provided me the extra reassurance that some things would be provided while I tried to take care of other people’s children while hoping my own turned out okay.
Today marks almost the sixth month of this quarantine. I’m reflecting on how we’ve done especially the kids. Our kids have it much easier than the rest of their cohorts in the country. They know that and I know that. Teen thoughts of suicidality is 1 out of 4 right now. That creates panic in my pediatrician heart. At work, I think about the world and I worry about my teen patients. At home, I’m a mother and I worry about my own children. For most the summer, our children were enrolled in virtual camps through their private school and different private colleges. These programs charged thousands of dollars and I marvelled at the cost. But they kept our children busy, and the kids did well and at least someone was making a paycheck and we can afford it. We had virtual piano lessons through most of the summer, but our piano teacher passed away from cancer. It’s something that it still hard for us to process and we haven’t yet really talked to the children about it. They wanted to stay with her until the end. It’s been about two months since she passed away and we sent a final note of condolence to her sister. We are waiting to hear back from our old piano school about our new teacher. It is time to resume lessons.
Our daughter has become increasingly irritable lately. She wanted to decorate her room, and now she doesn’t. We said we would get possibly a kitten or another puppy if we are going to be virtual, but now having second thoughts. We are thinking about going on a short drive up the coast and just stay in two hotels two nights each with it’s own kitchen. That way we can at least drive somewhere together as a family, get take-out, go from car to hotel, hotel to car and do something – anything. We just want to walk along some different beaches and hiking trails that will hopefully be empty, and reset our minds before we dive into another six months of quarantine. But how will I tell my mother I want to go on a road trip with the kids? I have not really seen my mother other than running over quickly and socially distantly to get food here and there. We will talk about it again tonight as a family.
After I noticed our daughter’s irritability, we restarted our nightly walks around the neighborhood and this tends to help both her and me. She was silent for most of our walk, but we started chatting about the new book she is reading and she became animated. Our son going on evening runs on his own and his mental health seems to be better. For me, I am having social media envy seeing everyone’s pictures of National Parks that I’ve always wanted to see and have not. I do find solace in my litter picking and my ocean plogging runs.
In summary, how did our tween/teens do this summer? They fared well because they are lucky and we cushioned them much from what most kids in our country are going through. But it’s still been hard. And I’ve decided that we will go on a short road trip with two stops in a hotel with kitchenette for two nights each. My mental health is suffering too and I need a reset. I’ll bite the bullet and talk to my own mother about it and explain our trip. Maybe if we go, this will cure Mr. Plastic Picker’s obsession with getting another puppy. He thinks it would be great fun to get a friend for our partially trained poodle mix. Getting another puppy is like having another baby, I reminded him. I was the one that was up with her most nights when she was transitioning, just like I was the one that up breastfeeding the children when they were young. Maybe if I tell my mother that my husband is asking for another puppy, she will understand why we need to try to go on a quick vacation (as safely as we can, masked, in our own car, getting take-out only, with lots of chlorax wipes). Our daughter stopped on our walk yesterday and looked longingly at someone’s overgrown front yard that had a rooster. That’s how crazy the world is right now. She said it would be fun to have a rooster. I told her you can get Salmonella from backyard chickens. But the rooster was cute, it was an adolescent rooster like a tween – still with some fluffy soft feathers but elongated neck going through it’s chicken growth spurt. We really need to go on a road trip.
I realize how hypocritical I am sometimes. Here I can’t even manage six-months of quarantine in my upper middle class life, but I wrote how much Grit I have https://drplasticpicker.com/dr-plastic-picker-i-have-a-lot-of-grit-thoughts-on-building-character-through-environmental-activism/. Really Dr. Plastic Picker?