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This Is Not a Drill

This is not a drill. Covid-19 is in the house. Despite all our efforts, it breached our unfinished walls and was confirmed with a swab.

I guess that means I can now refer to my sick time in April as a “practice quarantine.” (http://themoonthesunandlittleman.com/2020/05/10/quarantine-ghost/) Though, to be honest, it in no way prepared me for our current situation. In April, I was the only one who got sick and never knew for sure what I had. There are plenty of viruses out there, after all, and since testing wasn’t an option, plausible deniability was on my side.

I technically don’t absolutely know what I have this time either … yet. But, a positive test in the home, together with the symptoms, leaves little space for denial. And, this time I have to strike a balance between the need to rest for my own health and the need to nurse others back to health.

The virus snuck up on us. It ambushed us. At least, that’s how it felt, even as we watched the numbers skyrocket around us here in Florida. We had a routine down. We were trying to be safe. The kids were staying home and accepting their new new (new?) normal. We were wearing masks despite the occasional eye rolls in our direction. Hands were constantly being washed and sprayed with sanitizer. But, guess what? There will be collateral damage when not everyone takes the same precautions and when the spread widens. Remember, wearing a mask protects others much more than the wearer. So, consider us the collateral family.

At this point it no longer matters to me from whom or whence it came, and with the explosion of cases here, is tracing even feasible anymore? I am not a fan of the blame game, anyway. We are back to leaning on our favorite mantra, it is what it is, and going from there.

I will say, that after two years of blood clots, imploding lungs, and home-devouring fauna, I am beginning to wonder if I should meander down to the pier and look for a whale into whose mouth I can leap. In this way, I could try to atone for any and all indiscretions, while getting some long overdue alone time in the process. Desperate times…

My husband is the known positive. The rest of us got tested, but we are not essential workers, so we will have to wait for our results. After a swab up both nostrils, that My Sun accurately described as feeling like pool water burning your sinuses when you jump in and forget to plug your nose, we were told we would be called with results anywhere from 3 to 7 days later. A doctor then came in to examine us and updated that to 8 days. She said she was pretty sure that three of the four of us had covid-19, given my husband’s results and our symptoms. At this news, My Sun breathed a sigh of relief and promptly took a few steps away from the rest of us. The doctor then warned that she was seeing about 3 of every 10 tests she conducted on people she was certain had the virus … come back negative. Good to know.

In the meantime, we were told it would be best for each of us to quarantine in a separate room. At the moment we have three functional bedrooms and five people; the office I quarantined in last April has since been filled with bicycles (don’t ask); and only one of the two people who would generally share a room is definitely positive. It is was it is. Little Man got booted from his room into what I now lovingly call The Master Family Room Suite with me, so that our very own beloved Patient Zero could be alone.

Today is day nine, but the hospital has since called to inform us that the labs are so slammed that they now have no idea when the results will be in. In the meantime we are supposed to assume we have it (which is really not that hard to do when you feel like crap and your son has what he likes to call “Yondu eyes ) and continue to quarantine.

While we wait, the hospital calls to check on us and I find myself referring to my children as if they were episodes of Friends. The One With the Red Eyes (Little Man) is still spiking the occasional low grade fever and has had some joint pain. The One With the Blebs on Her Lungs (My Moon) has a low grade fever, aches, congestion, and some fierce headaches. The One With No Symptoms (My Sun) is hiding under her bed.

The Education Dilemma

Between naps and headaches, I have also been trying to figure out what to do about school. Our governor has mandated that schools must fully open a mere 4 weeks from now…

Wait. Oh crap, now it’s only 3 weeks and 4 days!

Decisions must be made, but I am afraid to commit. On the one hand, there is no way in hell I am sending them into the schools with the numbers climbing the way they are, masks only recommended (I recommend stuff to my kids all the time and they laugh. If I really want shit done, there has to be some kind of order involved), and so many people not taking this seriously. Even if my kids already have it, I keep reading that there is no proof that they can’t get it again. If all goes well this time (excuse me while I pause to knock furiously on the wooden table before me), do I really want to push our luck? With our luck?

Our current options are (1) brick and mortar and (2) virtual school through one of two platforms. Given our underlying health concerns, we have already eliminated option 1 at our home. That leaves option 2, which is also less than ideal. Though the virtual schools here receive rave reviews and My Sun has successfully taken a course with them to supplement her regular classes, they do not offer all the classes she needs and is signed up for at her local school. This would make it harder for her to jump back in second semester if things are going better. The virtual schools are also completely separate entities from the local schools, cutting the kids’ connections to their local classmates and teachers.

I know that nothing will be ideal, but there are counties around us offering Distance, or Remote Learning, so I am holding off my ultimate decision (and signing petitions) in hopes that our schools will step up and offer something similar. I truly feel like this would be the best option for our kids and have heard the same from many other parents. Students would be taking the same classes as they would in the local school, with the same teachers and the same classmates. They would just be doing it remotely, “dropping in” via a computer, if you will. Besides, I am pretty sure that the schools will have to revert to remote learning for the students attending in person, as students and teachers turn up positive and have to quarantine. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to already have it up and running? Better yet, wouldn’t it be a good idea to start remotely with the number of infections so high (and rising) in the community and avoid exposing and infecting teachers and students all together? Just a thought.

I hear the cries around me that the children must “get back to learning”. The children have never stopped learning. They are learning very important lessons right now. They are learning that things do not always go as planned and how to navigate the waters when that happens. They are learning lessons on what it means to live in a community and to have some responsibility for the well-being of others. They are learning patience. They are learning hope and grace. But, they can only learn these things if we model them.

Am I worried about socialization? Of course, I want my kids to be able to socialize in person with their peers. Of course, I think it is important and that face to face hands-on teaching is the gold standard. But, this situation is not going to be forever and I have faith in both the resilience of our kids and the innovation of our teachers. The kids look to us for guidance. If we act like the world is ending, they will be anxious and afraid. If we act like this is a challenge we can get through, they will rise with us to face it.

And, I know that there are many other issues that will need to be addressed if the schools cannot open and teaching needs to be done remotely for now, but there were a whole lot of issues already when things were “normal”, and those need (have needed) to be addressed by society as a whole. The original purpose for schools was education. The need to address the fact that they have since become babysitters, safe havens, places to make up for lacking nutrition … etc, but are hardly getting by on the funding they have to educate, is long overdue.

Distractions

In the meantime here in quarantine-ville, indoor construction has once again come to a halt and we are all stuck in the 1/3 of our house which is currently habitable, playing musical rooms (two bathrooms + 5 people trying to avoid each other = endless fun). And, with the virus kicking morale down a notch and our movements even more restricted, distractions have worn thin. What could possibly make things anymore complicated?

And then it came to me. Actually, it didn’t exactly come to me. I had to borrow a live trap (thanks, Sandye) to catch it…

When I was hidden away in the office (one of the few places I can hide from the kids and still benefit from the air-conditioning) trying to set up our covid testing over the phone, a movement in our driveway, outside the window, caught my eye. I looked a little closer. It was a kitten … a tiny little kitten. It darted under the dumpster that has been a part of our landscaping for the past 8 months. As soon as I hung up, I masked up, called the kids and we went out to look, but it had disappeared. We put a small bowl of food in front of the dumpster, and saw the kitten a couple more times that day. Any time we tried to coax it over, it disappeared up underneath the dumpster.

Later that evening when I was driving back from the pharmacy, I saw the kitty dart around the side of our house into the backyard. So, we decided to move one of our motion activated security cameras over to that area of the yard and moved the food over in front of it. The next morning we discovered there had been two visitors … and one had tried to mess with the camera! Thus began The Adventures of Trash Panda and the Dumpster Cat which was a wonderful distraction from the corona virus.

Now, thanks to the trap, Dumpster Cat (who has since been dubbed Barolo… because we are Italian … and we like wine. Our other cats are named Brachetto and Spumante, by the way) is living in a large soft crate in the Master Family Room Suite while we figure out our next steps. One day at a time.

And let me just circle around here for one last hurrah. It is true that I am not a fan of the Blame Game. But, as a mother who is living in an area where so many people refuse to follow guidelines and where the numbers are thus sky-rocketing… As a mother in an area where hospitals are filling up and ICU beds are disappearing… As a mother who is watching her children’s symptoms like a hawk and hoping that nobody in the family will need one of those hospital beds … Could I ask one thing? COULD WE ALL TRY FOLLOWING THE GUIDELINES BEFORE DISMISSING THEM AND SAYING THEY DON’T WORK? Could we just do that and wears masks and social distance (which means a little more than just not sharing drinks or hugging) and see how that goes? Please?

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