As I sit here typing this story on my phone, I am laughing at what is going down in my kitchen. My wife is fast asleep, and our two children are alternating between bickering and giggling. It’s getting loud, but it quiets for short bursts.
“They’re fine,” I tell myself.
Upon picking up my iPad to read while they eat, I’ve noticed that my son has changed the settings, so everything is in German.
Not up for a stroll through my settings to switch things back to English and also not wanting to let this 11-year old have the satisfaction of winning, I scroll through my photos on my phone instead.
I see all of these lovely pictures of a happy family in quarantine. Our cooking adventures with the children, family walks, playing basketball as a family, and even some online learning success. It’s all documented so I can prove to myself that we’re doing this the right way. Smiling, cuddling, acting goofy. We are happy, right?
Simultaneously, my sweet 7-year-old daughter stomps through the kitchen and says, “Jesus Christ!” in that under her breath, but loud enough to hear sort of way. (This language exploration is a new development by the way. I swear!) She slams her fork in the sink and threatens to take away the syrup from the table.
Seriously, we are fighting over syrup?!
Then the argument about whether my daughter really saw a duck in our yard turned into a shouting match. I also saw the duck, but this isn’t my fight. Not today. She gives up trying to convince him. Good move, sweetie. Good move.
Her brother has syrup smeared on his right cheek, and his waffle carcass is strewn about his plate. There are even scraps on the table. I have no idea how eating waffles is such a monumental challenge.
He gets his sister to crack a smirk by gently mocking her, and I think he was surprised since he was aiming to make her mad.
Mind you, she made him breakfast because “he always does it for me,” which is actually true. The boy makes her breakfast and snack bags regularly. Just five minutes prior, she asked me to take a picture of the two of them embraced with the breakfast perfectly positioned beside them on the table. Aren’t they cute?
Within seconds of the duck meltdown, the two of them are talking about neighborhood adventures, a business plan for selling cookies and lemonade this summer, and today’s goals, which include building things and “getting outside if it’s done freezing!”
Since I don’t have a workshop, I know that building things means destroying the house. I’m okay with that. They might even clean it up without a fight?
Upon clearing the table from breakfast, both children complain to me about our broken drippy faucet that “you keep telling mom you will fix.” Also true. (Sadly, I do not own tools. A weak excuse in the age of YouTube, I know.)
Perfect timing because on cue, the semi-detached faucet falls into the sink and breaks a plate. They both remind me that I should have fixed the faucet. Their attitude is kind of like, “Oh well,” and they saunter into the toy room.
Before kids, the toy room was kind of a dining area/sitting room. I laugh now as I think about how empty that room was in those first few years in the house. It was so quiet.
So. Damn. Quiet.
Now they are negotiating the construction of a Lego mansion in the toy room. My children are fighting over “concepts” and how to turn a bedroom into a home office. It is clear to me that our HGTV viewing has been educational (Love It or List It is a family favorite!).
They hear me laughing as I write from my couch, and they ask what is so funny. Rather than respond, I ignore them, shifting my focus to my next move. My goal is to keep everything peaceful, and every calculation is prudent. Weekend mornings are designed for everyone to remain quiet while my wife sleeps in after working 50+ hours per week.
Folks, real life.
Most of all, though, we’re just doing what we need to move through our days trying not to take for granted that we’re pretty damn lucky — or as they say in German — Ich fühle mich glücklich.
Previously published on Medium.com.
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Photo credit: Nick Gregory
The post Five Minutes of Quarantine: A Simple Story Fit for the Times appeared first on The Good Men Project.