So... Yeah. The world basically turned into a dystopian YA novel a whole lot quicker than I think any of us were ready for. I work for several people versed in infectious disease, and even they're a little off-kilter. Last Friday all of our local schools were closed. My kids are off until mid-April. We were anticipating that, but also we thought that since C works at the school, childcare wasn't an issue. At the staff meeting however, he was told that his classification (non-teacher's union staff) would be required to report if they wanted to keep their jobs. Luckily last night they were contacted and told not to report, and today they were put off work for at least the week. Prison's don't close and my mom's in a high risk category, so if he has to work too we'll be in a bind. Eli's old enough to watch the girls but it turns out, the apocalypse doesn't stop them from fighting so I'm not sure all three would survive 8 hours alone together.
So many things have changed in just one day. When I left for work, everyone was out of school and we were all being encouraged to practice social distancing. By the time I got home, group sizes were reduced to below 10, several counties were instituting shelter in place, and I had an inbox full of "closed until further notice" messages.
I have to admit, after the weekend of compulsive news watching and prepping (but with a reasonable amount of toilet paper and no more disinfecting wipes than I already had on hand), I was reticent to leave my family and their little bubble. Both corrections and healthcare are still considered "essential," so even though several nearby counties have issued shelter-in-place orders I am still allowed to go to work. And I have a lot of staff who can't work from home because their whole job is to provide treatment to mentally ill patients. With all of the group size restrictions, I'm really not sure how much longer we'll be able to do most of our work, but while they're there, I will be too. That doesn't mean that I'm not taking a disinfecting shower the second I walk in the door though.
So what else are we doing? The kids were anticipating having on-line courses, but now all staff have been told to stay home so that's not in place. Today, they tried to go to the gym. They played a raucous game of Monopoly. They cleaned the house. They exceeded the recommended amount of screen time.
I didn't want to deal with all the nutty people at the stores over the past few weeks, so we'd been eating leftovers and clearing out the pantry. At the time, it seemed like a great idea. Friday, when all hell broke loose and we ate our last frozen mini taco, it seemed like one of my most regrettable decisions. C and I set out to Sam's Club, thinking that we'd avoid the more obvious Costco/Walmart/Target. That was a good idea, but we still ended up with some fucked up groceries. Tonight we're literally having mystery meat. The package says "pork" but it's seasoned with...something? I was also able to find a couple packages of meatballs, a bag of popcorn chicken, and a big bag of pre-cooked chicken strips. The veggies were about the same, so I've got tiny potatoes, romaine lettuce, and a shit ton of oranges. I was able to get two corned beef roasts at the Safeway and I hit Walmart yesterday early and got the last four cans of corn. So we'll eat but it's gonna be weird. At least I found bulk bags of coffee.
We'd luckily already gotten our Costco haul of toilet paper/paper towels/bar soap, so we didn't have to do that craziness. The checker at Sams mentioned that we hadn't bought toilet paper. C told her, "We have a fourteen year old son. We're always pretty stocked up." He said it with a totally straight face and I nearly died.
Other things I'm glad we did: I went to the library after work on the day that they announced the school closure and picked up a TON of books. I think we currently have 30 on our shelf. I suspect that the libraries may close soon, so I plan to go back tomorrow and get 30 more to get to our 60 book limit. I picked up a few chapter books for Eli (even though he hates to read anything longer than a comic), some biographies and a Judy Blume for Syd, and several early chapter books for Averson. Apparently I misjudged her current reading level because she's blown through all the Bad Kitties and the Heidi Hecklebecks already. So she needs a few more and then I need to grab a few for the rest of us. I got the second Harry Potter for us to read aloud, but I suspect that we may need at least one more.
The kids all have Facebook Messenger apps on their devices. If you don't have it yet and you're social distancing, I can't recommend it enough. The kids can video chat and play games with their friends in a safe, controlled social media platform.
Personally, I'm really working on controlling the things that I can. At work, that means having Plans A through E ready to go for any number of contingencies. I'm ready if we go back to business as usual but I'm also ready if they say that I have to reduce my on-site staff drastically or if 75% of my staff call out. At home, I'm trying to keep as much structure as I can in place. We ate dinner at the table and everyone had to use reasonable manners. The kids are getting dressed every day. I'm trying to be really mindful about my information consumption after realizing that I was compulsively reloading my phone. Now I'm trying to stick to actual news sites, not focusing on social media posts about empty shelves, and I'm being intentional about what I google. I'm also actively seeking out the good things, like the facebook page that was started in our community to trade diapers and formula or the library who extended everyone's due dates by a month or the strangers that bought the girls' Girl Scout cookies this weekend (since our council, unlike nearly EVERY other one, did not mitigate the girls' financial responsibility for unsold cookies. SMH).
Every doctor I've spoken with has said that they foresee this getting worse before it gets better. I'm finding myself increasingly more frustrated with the people who think we're all overreacting or that this is just a political tactic. I was having this conversation at work this morning, pleading with this woman to PLEASE adjust what she was doing, even if she was healthy and not at risk. In a last ditch effort to help her understand why we ALL needed to practice social distancing, I outlined the pool analogy. I can't find it now (I'm sure it was a meme on Facebook), but essentially social distancing is like if we're all in a big pool together. It's super crowded, but we're all having fun. We're jumping and laughing and diving around. Most of us can swim (are low risk) and will be fine. Some of us are wearing floaties or life jackets (medium risk). But some of the people in the pool can't swim and there aren't enough floaties for everyone. And the lifeguards have a hard time seeing who needs help because we're all in the pool splashing and yelling and jumping. So what we're doing right now by social distancing is this, those of us that know how to swim or have floaties are getting out of the pool. We're taking a break. That lets the lifeguards see who needs help and get to them in time.
So all that to say that I'm trying to lean in to hanging out on the pool deck for a minute. We're going to be okay. This is a big, weird new thing but we can do hard things.
Be safe everyone. Wash your hands. Be kind. Log into the cool FB live feeds early since it'll be you and 32k of your closest friends.
Edit to add that the mystery meat was DELICIOUS. Between that and quarantine traffic, today is full of silver linings!