There are planes going by overhead from Burbank to who knows where. Who is still riding on airplanes?
I am somewhat at a loss. What is happening in the world is so big and scary, I don’t know where to begin. Everyone is frightened. No one is exempt. Social Media has become a room where in one corner people are screaming about the virus and/or the politics around the virus, in another people are screaming at the people screaming about the virus and/or the politics around the virus, and in another people are making “content.” The fourth corner is the WHO saying, “Wash your hands!” and the CDC saying, “Don’t spit in your partner’s mouth!”
Parks and beaches are now closed. We went to the beach on Sunday with my friend Gonzalo. All five of us packed in our car, which I understand is VERBOTTEN, and very bad, and we should be ashamed of ourselves. But Gonzalo is like family, so we figured we would be okay. And I was feeling so stir-crazy and sun-deprived, that I reasoned the chances of me getting sick or getting Gonzalo sick were worth the risk. We kept our distance from all other humans. We gave seniors the evil eye and said, “Back! Back, ye foul knave!” We yelled at babies who toddled too close. We didn’t lick any handrails. In short, we were as safe as could be while still venturing into the sunshine. And I’m grateful we did it before we lost the opportunity altogether.
I have become a homeschool teacher, which is a job I am wholly unqualified for, and very bad at. My attempt this morning devolved during our morning walk (first thing after breakfast, mind you) when I asked Monty to spell the word “people,” over which he had a full meltdown. Frankly, I don’t blame him. “People.” Really. How do I explain a silent and pointless “o?” There is nothing quite like teaching spelling to a six-year-old that highlights how nonsensical the English language is. Thankfully my sister has years of experience nannying rich people’s kids, so she has taken over the bulk of the teaching. She seems to be an endless font of activities that are both educational and fun.
Kurt also is better able to teach Monty than I am. When we got home from our walk this morning, I asked Monty to hit the reset button on the day. He went to his room for a few minutes and came out just as angry as when he went in. Everything I suggested was a problem. Then Kurt got up, and I retreated to my room for my own reset. When I came out, Monty was happily reading out loud from a book about Dinosaurs.
In discussing this with my therapist today, it became clear that Monty’s frustration mirrors my own. When teaching him is harder than I want it to be, I tend to throw up my hands and say, “forget it!” It’s no wonder he does the same.
My parenting strengths lie elsewhere. Though I will admit that sometimes it’s hard for me to see what strengths I do have as a parent. Sometimes I struggle to see what my contribution is. Especially when I’m hearing Monty and my sister laughing in the living room over a made-up game show called “What’s That Grammar?” and I can’t get him to spell “people.”
I have to regularly remind myself that Monty is a happy, well-adjusted kid, who seems to inspire joy in everyone he meets. And despite how frustrated I get, or how little I feel I’m contributing to his well-being, he is always thrilled to see me, wants me to sit right next to him at dinner and in the car, wants me to do bedtime, and tells me all the time how much he loves me. Maybe my contributions are just harder to quantify.
I hope we are all taking some of this time to hit our own reset buttons.
I find myself thinking very seriously about what I want my life to look like when the dust settles. Do I want to remain in Los Angeles and continue chasing a dream that is illusive and never quite as satisfying as I want it to be? Do I switch careers (again)? Do I move somewhere quieter and open a country store? Do I run for office and try to help redesign our culture?
We certainly can’t keep going the way we have. If this disaster has proven anything, it is that the people in charge clearly care more about their own reputations than they do the good of their constituents, or their country. Hopefully it has become obvious to everyone that our priorities are completely mixed up. More value needs to be placed on our teachers and our service industry workers.
Money doesn’t disappear. It flows upward and is all still there. The only reason we’re in a depression is because the wealth has been distributed mostly to the people who see no reason to spend it on the greater good. All the companies who have temporarily shut down and stopped paying workers are still paying their CEOs. THEY still have money. And they will still amass more of it, while the rest of us watch our savings (if we’re lucky to have any) dwindle away.
We have an opportunity to make a better system. Will we do it, or will we put our blinders back on and go about business as usual?
Another airplane just flew by.