Saturday, March 28, 2020

Report from the Bunker

My wife had a long first labor and in the second day of our home birth, we couldn’t remember (and especially SHE couldn’t remember) life without contractions every 15 minutes or so. Within 24 hours, it had just become the new normal.

And so with sheltering in place, finished our second week and this has just become life. As needed, the days have taken on their own rhythm, as follows:

7:30-9:00—I feed the kids breakfast while my daughter Kerala and wife Karen jog.

9:00-12:00— Kerala and I retreat to online meetings and work obligations (me with online school lessons) and Karen takes the kids to the basement for a three-hour (!) art class. 

12:00-1:00—We all meet for lunch

1:00 -4:00—Bike rides in Golden Gate Park.  (I hear that some towns have closed city parks and I dread that day because Golden Gate Park has been a blessing, every day biking with the kids— and the 4-year old can happily bike 7 miles— for the triple boon of exercise, fresh air and the sanity of Spring.)

4:00 -6:00—Time with Aunt Tita at her house or ours while Kerala cooks dinner (she loves to do it and insists that she needs it). Sometimes I join them to do some music and/or make some music videos for the kids at school.

6:00-7:00—Dinner and clean-up.

7:00-8:00—Whole family Uno game. Stories and bedtime for Malik.

8:00-10:00—Reading with Zadie or Rummy 500 or share some classic movies with her (Singing in the Rain, Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire, Big). 

More or less within that schedule, other things like Legos, jump-rope, playing catch with balls, recorder lesson, little drama skits, helping in the kitchen and more keep us all active and engaged. The reason for our time together is anything but happy, but the time itself has mostly been delightful. 
It will be a little different now because my daughter and the grandkids just left. To avoid planes and hotels and restaurants, we left San Francisco at 7am and I drove them through the newly non-trafficked freeways to Redding 3½ hours north, they picked up a rental car to drive another 7 plus hours to Portland while I turned around and drove back to San Francisco. All food in the car, minimal contact and touching of surfaces other than the gas pump with a cloth and the rest room with vigorous hand-washing and hand sanitizer.

Now the family is reduced from 5 to 2, with daughter Talia still allowed to come over, no more wild kid energy which is always a welcome break, but also something I will miss. A short weekend break from the much, much harder online schoolwork, confirming my long-held view that technology can be efficient in some areas, but maddeningly inefficient and unsatisfying in other kinds of learning experiences. Give me a live school staff meeting over Zoom any day and a room full of kids singing and dancing instead of sending little videos for them to watch at home. I hope we will come out of this more convinced than ever that live interaction, touch, smell, real-time 3-dimensional conversation, moving together, singing together, playing instruments together, eating meals together, is an irreplaceable blessing and non-negotiable human need that we have been spending WAY too much time trying to replace with computers. Another week or two or four of this isolated life and we will be bouncing off the walls yearning for big group hugs!!! Though will probably have to ease our way back into that. 

Much more I could say without the kids trying to beat me up or steal my glasses from my front pocket, but the long-neglected piano awaits and enough is enough. Just a little snapshot from one of millions of sheltered-in-place bunkers. 

And how are your days going?

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