SILVER LININGS

an After-the-Rain Shot from a Hughes Family Vacay

There’s been lots of talk about finding the Silver Linings in the midst of our current COVID storm. At publishing time, we’ve been quarantined here in New England for ten weeks, and schools are closed indefinitely. However, despite all of the anxiety and unrest, our students are still learning (because we teachers are still teaching), we haven’t run out of toilet paper, and we haven’t sold our kids on eBay driven each other mad.

But it’s a lot.

And if we’re not careful, the What Ifs can absolutely capsize us.

To help reset my own perspective (which I find myself doing on the daily), I‘ve been doing what many of you are doing: looking for the Good that has come out of all of this.

Of course, this is nothing new. Mr. Rogers urged us to see the Good, C. S. Lewis encouraged it, Mother Teresa—and probably just about all of our parents as they endured our adolescence. If you haven’t seen British YouTuber Probably Tomfoolery’s The Great Realisation [sic], it’s a must-watch that explores all of the Good that has come from our time in captivity quarantine.

So, without further adieu, here’s my own list—in no particular order—of the Good I’ve seen come from what my students are affectionately calling “Coronacation.” (#worstcationever)

1) We’re Moving.🚶‍♀️

I can no longer blame Never Being Home or Lack of Time or The Kids’ Crazy Schedule as a reason not to move. We’re home. We have sneakers. We’ve got nice weather. And we now have the time. So, we’re doing something every day to get our endorphins going—which helps with our emotional state, too. Now, if I could just stop eating my feelings…

2) We’re Organizing. 📋

Remember all of those To Do Lists that resurface every vacation? Me, too. Except mine come out, taunt me all week, and then get shoved back into a Drawer of Shame. Quarantine, however, has allowed me to organize cabinets and drawers and closets and even entire rooms. Take that, Marie Kondo!

3) We’re Playing. 🃏

I love board games, but no one wants to play them with me. Unless it’s my birthday. Being stuck at home—and bored—has forced my kids to cave. And while it’s infrequent and often leads to fighting, those first 15 minutes of Forced Family Game Time are glorious.

4) We’re Watching. 📺

Because our interests are so varied, we rarely watch the same thing in our casa. But since you can only watch so many episodes of The Tiger King or The Office, we’re watching more as a family. And in the same room.

5) We’re Talking. 🗣

And because you can only watch for so long (see above), our mornings typically have slower starts. Which I love. Prior to this, it had been eons since sleepy kids stumbled out of their rooms—hair askew—and just rambled while still waking up. I’m usually grabbing my coffee and my school bag and jetting out the door before they sometimes are even awake. I didn’t realize how much I missed the morning time. I love this part.

6) We’re Eating. 🍽

With sports and other activities, there was a lot of eating-in-shifts going on. So, to all be eating at least one meal at the same time—and together? Priceless. Now if all of us could eat the same thing at the same time, that would be a true COVID Miracle.

7) We’re Connecting. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

Let the record show that I don’t care about TikTok or Fortnite or the 97th season of Grey’s Anatomy. At all. However, it has been enlightening–and even a little interesting–to get a closer look into the things that interest my kids. Ironically, I talk a lot about the importance of reading the room and teaching the students in the seats in front of me. However, prior to this, I don’t think I practiced what I preached a whole lot at home.

However, please don’t misunderstand.

There’s definitely more fighting and #familydistancing in the Hughes homestead than there was, say, ten weeks ago. We’re not learning the guitar together or making our own hand sanitizer or building a shed in the backyard or baking our way through grandmother’s recipes. On the contrary, we’re still getting takeout quite a bit–under the guise of being “locavores who are supporting small business.” My laptop’s weekly screen time averages are nauseating, and that struggle-is-real work-home balance is realer than it ever was.

Plus, our kids are sick of quarantining, and their parents are, too. The kids miss being able to just hang out with their friends, and their parents do, too. And one person in our house especially misses being able to teach in front of real humans and eat in a place where she can pay the bill and leave the dishes to someone else. (Getting her roots “did” wouldn’t be too bad either. #firstworldproblems)

As of next week, our state will be reopening slowly. While it won’t look the same for a while, there are definitely Silver Linings in all of this. Matthew Quick’s novel The Silver Linings Playbook reminds us that “[l]ife is not a PG feel-good movie. Real life often ends badly. Literature tries to document this reality, while showing us it is still possible for us to endure nobly.”

But endure this we will–and hopefully, we’ll learn a thing or two in the process.

Endure nobly, everyone.

And stay well.

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