• J Mess


Now you realize why paying professionals to entertain your children is worth every penny.

My son and my husband have a nightly bedtime ritual. They discuss all the things we did each day and what things we're going to do tomorrow. Creatively, they call it "things." I'll admit even before the world turned upside down, our "things" were never really that exciting. We went to school, ate dinner. We went to the supermarket, occasionally gymnastics. But obviously in the age of Corona, "things" have really gone down the crapper. As I'm sure you're aware, there's not much left to discuss. Today we stayed in the house. Tomorrow, we will also stay in the house. Still my husband tries really hard to make everyday sound as exciting as possible. Tomorrow we're going to have yogurt!! And maybe take a walk! Riveting stuff. Clearly the sad reality is I am failing at my additional job as the activity director for this family.

An impossible job, in an impossible situation. Honestly, my experience as a former camp counselor should have never qualified me for this gig.

It wasn't always this way. When we first realized the magnitude of the situation, everyone was enthusiastically looking for "things" for the kids to do. We lied to ourselves and thought we'd only have to occupy a couple of weeks maximum, and how hard could this be right? Seemed super unfun, but somewhat manageable. And also we had no choice. Back then we still had energy and hope. There were "things" like the Atlantic shark conservancy reading shark books on Facebook Live. Singalongs. Kid yoga zooms. Facetimes with little school friends. Online zoo tours. I scheduled them all. As many "things" as I could fit into a day. Anything to keep us busy and engaged. However we were not engaged. Far from it. Nathan had no interest in any of those "things" past the first 30 seconds.

Then came the daily school zoom activities during which Nathan would either run away and leave me sitting there alone with the entire school watching me aggressively and soundlessly motioning at him to "get back over here right now," like an angry mom-mime. Or worse he'd wipe his snot all over me and endlessly try to grab me or Sydney, so everyone got to see me literally trying to shove my child head first out of the frame. All while smiling like a crazed, caged, mommy psycho. Both mortifying outcomes forced me to declare defeat, first by shutting off the camera and inevitably by stopping to bother calling into the activities at all.

Left with nothing, we did Baby Shark dance parties in the kitchen. Played with every toy in our house. Watched insane amounts of iPad. Then in total desperation, tried to remotely burden our families with entertaining our children. Nathan has quizzed my parents on FaceTime about which animal he was holding up so many times that I think they can now credibly apply to be zoologists. But these "things" weren't truly as exciting or stimulating as being at school with his friends. And luckily Nathan doesn't have social media yet, because then he would certainly know the magnitude of my total disinterest in being the family cruise director. Other moms are facilitating much more fun "things" like constant online music classes, crafts, and outdoor activities. Nathan's cousins were making brownies, doing elaborate sidewalk chalk drawings, roller skating, and playing in a giant inflatable bounce house. Meanwhile 4 weeks into this nightmare, I've basically given up on every "thing." Currently one of my kids is slothing in a swing and the other was playing with a diaper in the corner then literally passed out face first in his iPad. Should make for an exciting recap this evening...

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