Camped out at the makeshift, work-from-home desk!
My son’s daycare has been closed for the past ten weeks. My husband and I are both considered “essential workers.” Yes, it’s been quite the at-home adventure. In general, I feel very confused about the unfairness in which life sits. In the process of social distancing, some parents have not had the privilege of seeing their kids at all in the past ten weeks. This article and this video illustrate the pain and uncertainty that those families are walking through. It breaks my heart to contemplate their situations. While my past ten weeks have been overwhelming at times, ten weeks of distance would hurt so much worse.
With that said, I’d like to document what has transpired so far. Each morning, I did my living-room workout. Half-way through, my son would emerge from his bedroom and lay on the couch waiting for his turn with YouTube. Next, YouTube transformed into whatever his little heart desired. Thank God for YouTube (essentially a free nanny) and the educational videos that folks have made for little kids. Unexpectedly from a free source, these videos have actually taught him new words, concepts, and songs – so cool!
Meanwhile, I set up camp at my kitchen table with my laptop. We had a friend make a very long Ethernet chord when my Wi-Fi couldn’t take the heat of my remote workstation. I sit on our drum set seat (lol), because it’s the only adjustable, non-rolling seat we have. There’s also the mouse and the charger and the paperwork stuffed into a 2005 Veronica Mars bag that I received from my high school German teacher. 🙂
From 8:00-11:30am it’s me working and my son on a mission for a snack, YouTube video, another snack, a few books, another snack, maybe some toys, and definitely another snack. One email, phone call, and snack at a time, we make it through the morning. At my lunch break, we run around outside or go to my mom’s house so he can have a playmate for the afternoon. (THANK YOU, MOM!) My mom went above and beyond to help us out, and I am SO grateful for her. She says it’s her pleasure, but on a genuine note from me to you, Mom: thank you for the help. We could not have survived this time without your assistance!
When my phone rings, it’s a gamble if my son will abide by the “be quite” rule or if my client will know the secret of just how close my kid actually is. I usually have to employ the mute button to tell him to “shhhhhh!!!!” Once he made a kissing sound as I said goodbye to my client, so that was a bit awkward. But in all ten weeks, I only had to end one phone call abruptly because he started crying and was inconsolable and I had no idea what the problem was (nothing had happened!). I told my client I would call them back as soon as I could and they were mildly annoyed (wtf? They must not have kids). It turns out, my son had spotted some toys under the couch that he couldn’t reach and this was very, very upsetting for him. . . . -_-
The main issue with the disruption to the daycare routine is that he has to get his kicks some other way, so we have been two seconds away from a meltdown this entire time. I have noticed increased clinginess (I miss going to the bathroom by myself!), but this is only when the laptop is out. On my days off, all is well. I have a friend in the same situation as me and she noticed the same thing, stating that the laptop is a “definite trigger” for her young son as well. Isn’t it interesting (and frustrating) that the job we work to support the child is the cause of the child’s stress?
In contrast, my child has simultaneously developed more independence. He enjoys playing by himself and has gotten quite good at it, his imaginative games becoming more complex. This is a skill I am glad he learned early; he will always have himself to keep himself company.
Another benefit from this time together is that my son now understands what I do all day. He can see HOW adults sit down at a (makeshift) desk and not do anything beyond the task directly at hand. He knows that when the phone rings it’s time for me to listen and respond appropriately. He hears me speak respectfully, using big words and structured sentences. He perceives me addressing concerns, showing empathy, and answering questions. Yes, working a complicated office job next to a three-year-old has been an insurmountable challenge for us both and this style of learning has been a lot to ask of him. But this time together has allowed me to teach patience, respect, and good communication. Knowing that I contributed to the development of lifelong skills, even though I was working and it was hard, has made this time meaningful and important.