Embracing the Family Overload of Quarantine

The dad behind the award-winning 'Viva Daddy' column talks about what his family has been doing to keep it together during quarantine.

The opposite of social distance is domestic proximity, and the space we’ve afforded our colleagues and neighbors we’ve taken from our spouses and children. Traffic has been sparse, but the living room has been crowded.

Set aside the threat of disease and financial ruin and each of us still faces quotidian battles related to bunkering down with our loved ones. Each day is a struggle for iPad availability, bathroom privacy and a quiet space to Zoom.

It seems society wished on a monkey’s paw to have more time to spend with our kids. If familiarity breeds contempt, everyone in the house blocking the refrigerator 24/7 breeds rage.

If you’re working from home these days, you’re probably relieved that you needn’t spend time with the officemates you wanted to brain with a stapler. But when you’re trying to finish a report and you realize your child has depleted your laptop battery playing Minecraft, you suddenly miss Todd from Accounts Payable.

You’ve spent years regretting how much time your child spends in their industrialized education plus aftercare, but now that you’re the one struggling to teach your child the joys of the simile or photosynthesis, you’re ready to find them a reputable boarding school.

I’m trying to embrace the bonus time I’ve been afforded with my daughter, Viva. Not since before all-day kindergarten have we spent this much time together, and while she’s getting sick of Led Zeppelin 2 and I’m certainly sick of Zombies 2, we both know these days are some kind of filial bonus lap we shouldn’t take for granted.

When we aren’t in one another’s way, we’re having dance parties, baking irresponsible amounts of bread and inventing absurd games like, “People or No People” in which we try to guess before opening the blinds whether or not there will be any people walking in what was once a bustling public space outside our window.

We’re making the apocalypse fun. I hope you’re finding a way to do likewise. It’s not every day you get a multi-day doomsday playdate.

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