The shelter-in-place directives across the country, due to COVID-19, have brought mixed blessings and mixed results for families.
TV commercials show smiling families gathered around the room playing games and talking, some are doing “camp outs” in their living rooms and still others are joyously cooking together in the kitchen.
RV dealers are advertising different types of campers as the ultimate safe shelter-in-place and still be able to travel, sing songs around a campfire and do some canoeing.
While there has been opportunities for improved family time, there also has been more tenseness in learning to adapt to others doing their thing close by.
In some cases, I believe parents have even developed a new appreciation for their children’s teachers, finding out their kids aren’t the perfect angels in school, now that parents have to deal with them.
Moms and dads who are still employed, but work at home are sharing the kitchen table, desk and the internet bandwidth with their kids doing school work or participating in distance learning.
For instance, when my wife called our son’s family, she was able to speak with our granddaughter (she had her school work done), but our grandson was on Zoom with his class and teacher.
Our son was leading a real-time class for a company in Europe and our daughter-in-law was doing her work from home instead of in her office in Nashville.
When we spoke with our daughter and her family, our son-in-law was at work and our granddaughter was online doing her weekly school assignments on the “big computer”…and she is just in kindergarten.
Overall, both families have adapted pretty well.
On the opposite age spectrum, we have my wife’s mom and my dad in assisted living, which has been closed to visitors for a number of weeks.
The “closed shop” has worked well, as the facility hasn’t had any anyone with coronavirus.
But it makes it difficult to stay in touch with seniors who are in their eighties and nineties, as they are not as well versed (read that as NOT) in using social media to stay connected, so feel very isolated.
So we use cell phones, we participate in drive-by parades held for the residents, though no one was permitted to stop, get out of their vehicles and speak to their family members.
Apparently, earlier someone had gotten creative and opened a window to their family member’s apartment so they could see and touch each other.
That resulted in signs posted on each window stating “Under no circumstances may this window be opened.”
Additionally, people at this age have a lot of medical issues, some serious, and it is very challenging to discuss options with that family member when the facility is on lockdown.
But we adapt.
There are many stories on social media where families have adapted and generated some quality time together.
Parents and kids have gotten to know each other better, more meals are eaten together, are watched together and projects around the house completed together.
Speaking of projects, I and other guys have been concerned about running out of projects, as honey-do lists get completed, yet I have faith that our wives will keep the list alive…I’m kidding (only partly)!
On the sad side, I have friends who are divorce attorneys and they say business is booming as couples can’t stand spending all this time together.
COVID-19 is the final straw and they are splitting up.
Odd, since when they were first married, most couldn’t get enough time with each other.
Another sad fact is that bankruptcies are mounting up as jobs have been lost or businesses close, never to come back.
Another couple I know put an offer on a house just before COVID-19 raised its ugly head, both lost their jobs and had to drop out of the contract.
The coronavirus has impacted families, both immediate and extended, all across the country in good ways and bad.
However, every day gets us one day closer to the end of this pandemic and to the return of normal, where we can visit family, get space from family (when needed) and appreciate the family we have.
It has been a time where it has been a necessity to adapt and to appreciate each other’s idiosyncrasies.
Still, I hope we all can appreciate the blessings of our families, whether near or far.
Rick G. Thielen lives in Grove, Oklahoma and enjoys sharing observations and ruminations on life around him.