Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash
What is this world?
In a few short weeks the world has gone haywire. If you ask me, it’s barely recognizable. A sudden change of this magnitude can be frustrating and difficult to adapt to.
The conditions are going to be particularly difficult for some. For example if you are going nuts confined to your two bedroom apartment, trying to sneak out on walks, think about your maid or cook. Mine called recently to say that they were 4 grown people stuck in a 8 foot by 10 foot room and the police question them every time they leave the room to use the common bathroom outside.
Even among the more well off sections of society, how are parents of kids with ADHD and behavorial issues coping? Victims of domestic abuse are not only stuck at home with their tormentors, but the frequency and brutality of abuse probably intensifies under such stressful circumstances.
On a more mundane note, how do we help our senior citizen parents, even if they are just a few kilometers away, under these strict lock-down conditions?
There is much that makes us tense these days. All of us are dealing with some unusual chores or responsibilities that, at the very least, we are quite uncomfortable with.
As scary, and difficult this time may be, it is very much a part of our life, and is probably here to stay for a while. Human beings have an amazing capacity to adapt and that’s what we see today. What’s surprising is, that I have noticed that kids do it better than grownups.
I guess they are so used to being told what to do without a lot of explanations and arguments, that this isn’t even particularly weird for them. They trust their parents, and just do what they are told.
While traffic comes to a stand still, and roads a deserted, life goes on, right? In my house these absurd times have given rise to some really special moments. I try to take pictures of as many of these moments as I can.
Whatever comes of this crisis, the memories of how we dealt with it as a family, are precious.
Creativity and Appreciation
Every few days my kids come up with creative ways of appreciating everything I do for the family. It started with simple cards, but a couple of nights ago, they put together bits and pieces from their toys and made me this touching art installation on their homework desk.
Yes school has been closed, but learning still continues. In fact, their school curriculum dedicates a certain amount of time each week to teach them life skills like folding their clothes and washing their plates. But the amount they have learned in the last couple of weeks is astounding.
My older daughter now efficiently collects all the water bottles from all over the house, rinses them out, fills them with drinking water, wipes them down with the dish cloth and neatly arranges them in the cupboard. My younger one collects the dirty dishes and brings them to the sink and then puts away the clean dry utensils in their proper place. Both girls now know where everything in the house is kept.
We create a human conveyor belt to clean the vegetables. One of us takes it out of the shopping bag, the next one (me) dunks it in a bucket of water and washes it, and the third one sets it to dry or puts it in the refrigerator.
The girls also wipe down the table, put away their toys ,and fold up their clothes.
Reading, Math and More
But it’s not all just about housework either. We do rapid fire mental math during dinner, and the kids have been learning new math techniques. The older one is excited about word problems involving monkeys devouring bananas, workers building walls and children chopping onions. I give her a few and then she tries to come up with more of her own.
The younger ones eyes bore through the page with deep concentration as she tries to tackle carry over sums for the first time.
The kids have loads of time to read all the books they have accumulated over the years. The older one is devouring the Enid Blyton boarding school stories, while the younger one has graduated to National Geographic chapter books, the next level after the kids readers she loved so much.
My girls are also enjoying collecting facts about the various species of dinosaurs from the internet and putting together a scrap book. With over 700 species of dinosaurs, most of which have unpronounceable names, it’s a mammoth of a task that keeps them happy and busy, a long term project at which they keep chipping away.
Here is an excellent book list, I put together using suggestions from kids and their parents.
Exercise in Times of Corona
The gyms and play areas are closed. Even evening walks and strolls are no longer permitted in Mumbai. So what do we do?
Lots and lots of dancing and jumping, and some hand TT on the dining table too.
Then of course there is sweeping and swabbing the floors. It’s not as onerous as one might imagine if you can do it together, and perhaps throw in some cheerful tunes in the mix.
The kids are not the only ones learning. With my cook no longer coming, I feel like I am in grad school again, experimenting with recipes. I had forgotten how fulfilling I used to find cooking.
Making tiffin at ungodly hours before sun rise is just not the same as immersing myself in figuring out a recipe and then tweaking the details as I implement it. It’s been while since I have experienced the satisfaction of putting together a simple, but creative and elegant meal. The added bonus, is the expressions of joy as the family takes a break from usual food and enjoys my culinary creations.