I work in a school, which means that when I first got the notification about spring break being extended, I was ECSTATIC. Obviously, the fact that I could feel any excitement at all shows how fully I didn’t understand the magnitude of what was happening around the world.
Out of this ignorance, when I told my kids we’d be out of school an extra week, I told them with a smile on my face and dance in my feet. If I had understood the severity of what was happening, I still would’ve tried to deliver the news with as much calmness and optimism as possible, but I wouldn’t have expressed joy. Nothing in me would have felt happy or thankful. I would’ve made sure my kids understood as well as I did that we could enjoy our time but that we wouldn’t be partying in our hearts about having it.
Not while our brothers and sisters around the world were hurting and dying.
But our partying quickly waned. As our first week of quarantine came and went, and school was extended for three more weeks, my kids and I stopped feeling excited about being home. It wasn’t just boredom that set in. It was the eerie stillness of our days that wasn’t stimulated by schedules, expectations, or routines. We could suddenly wake up whenever we wanted and spend our days however we liked… and it felt weird.
I kept thinking, “Shouldn’t we be enjoying this more? We basically extended summer break by two extra months? Shouldn’t my kids be loving this?”
I thought of what our summer breaks actually looked like. For three straight months, we eat popsicles between every meal, we go to the swimming pool from the time it opens to the time it closes, and we stay up extra late to go see drive-in movies. We have no obligations and no routine, and we LOVE IT.
And I realized why this is so different. During summer break, you may not have any obligations, so to speak, but you can still add things to your calendar if you want to. You can go to see your friends. You can go to the ice cream shop. You can have playdates at the park, roast marshmallows over bonfires, visit your grandma who lives alone, or spend three afternoons in a row playing on the indoor equipment at Chick-fil-A.
You CAN do fun things, even if you choose not to.
With this virus, the only fun we’re allowed to have must be kept between the walls of our confined space. In the same way that a prisoner has “no schedule,” we also have suddenly had no schedule… and no freedom to accompany it. My kids have picked up on the difference, even if they don’t know how to express it.
Every time they ask to go somewhere, I have to say, “Businesses are closed right now. We can’t go there.” In the beginning, I had to keep reminding them that places were closed because of the virus, but now I only have to say, “Remember things are closed?” They know why. It’s all anyone has talked about for a month.
For the most part, they’ve stopped asking to do anything at all.
We’ve gotten into a routine of sorts because it gives us all comfort to know what’s coming each day. But it’s not the same. There’s still this looming depression over the day that continues to remind us of all the things we can’t do right now and WHY we can’t do them. We can’t go out because people are dying. This virus has killed so many people around the world, and it’s creeping into our area, too.
Every decision we make right now–every time we don’t do something or go somewhere–we’re reminded of death and pain. Every time we pray (before meals, at bed time, while we’re driving), we’re reminded of suffering.
It’s not like summer break at all. We know it, and our kids know it, too.
We’ll dance together, we’ll sing, we’ll nap, we’ll pray, we’ll watch hundreds of movies, and we’ll pet our fluffy dogs… but we won’t treat this like summer break.
Because it’s not.