I’m quarantined at home in Tacoma with my wife and two young daughters. It’s week four, I’m pretty sure. Who knows for sure? The days are irrelevant. Life is now divided into time when my kids are awake or asleep.
And holy moly, when they’re awake each hour brings an onslaught of questions to answer, activities to prompt, and chaos to direct towards whichever area is the easiest to clean later.
A little over a year ago, we moved south from Seattle to the charming University Place neighborhood of Tacoma. In the seasons since, we’ve gotten to know a few local families and enjoyed exploring our new city. Other than a tragic shortage of quality sushi (we’ve tried three spots with dismal results), Grit City has proven herself to have friendly people, distinctive style, and a potent dose of local pride.
On an average day the city is bustling with hard working people, both lifetime residents and recent transplants living alongside one another in common appreciation of a shared community. However, for the last few weeks, alongside the rest of the city, state, and country (mostly), my family has been doing the right thing and staying home while minimizing all contact with others. We’re very thankful to have a spacious backyard occupying our curiosity and energy.
(A quick note to the eight governors currently NOT mandating shelter-in-place directives in their states… you’re both culpably negligent in the thousands of deaths coming to your constituents, as well as responsible for the inevitable extension of lockdowns beyond your borders. You are shameful and I despise you completely.)
Before the Coronavirus overturned life as we knew it, I worked in advertising while my wife stayed home to raise our girls. But now, after a series of escalating restrictions has isolated us to our home and my employer has furloughed me for at least two months, we’re in a whole new world.
For my wife and kids, gone are the days of Pre-K and swim classes providing a consistent routine and schedule to organize the week around, while I’m shifting from a full-time job and long daily commute defining my days to, well, nothing… It’s super weird for all parties involved.
But I’m positive our experience isn’t unique, we’re just one family among millions adjusting to a new way of life under a pandemic quarantine.
For example, as parents we try to limit screen-time, but when facing a dress-rehearsal for the apocalypse, as we are, an animated wonder called Frozen 2 offered a delightful respite. Of course, we saw the movie in theaters last November, but after Disney+ released the movie months in advance, we’ve been screening it almost daily.
Fortunately for Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and (ugh) Olaf—and more notably for parents everywhere—Frozen 2 offers a journey focused on inner strength and the power of family. Bolstered by catchy songs, great voice casting, and a plot inspired by elemental myths, Frozen 2 doubles-down on what worked well in the original but forges a new path in the hearts and minds of little ones everywhere. Or, at least it has at our house.
It’s not a real solution, obviously. Our financial, emotional, and social-distancing challenges are still here, and our lives are still utterly derailed. But small “wins” like Frozen 2 (of all things) make a real difference. Not just for exhausted parents in need of whatever help is available, like us, but also for children in need of any kind of distracting entertainment, like ours.
I’m aware of the severe inadequacy of Frozen 2 in the face of Coronavirus, but for parents struggling to get through the long days and weeks, it might offer the briefest of reprieves. And right now, it appears that it’s the best minor miracle we can expect.
Staying home isn’t what we want, but it’s what we need to do right now.
Just like Frozen 2 isn’t THE solution we want, but it is A solution, and we need as many of them as we can get right now.
Stay home, stay sane, and stay safe.
Jon lives with his wife and two young daughters in Tacoma Washington. His days are evenly divided between playing original kid songs on the guitar and chasing little ones around the yard until his knees give out. He recently moved south from Seattle to Tacoma, fully embracing his new home and community.