Today I sat in the grass next to the bike path while my 6-year-old son repeatedly roared like a dinosaur at his 4-year-old sister, making her cry.
I watched as she chased him with a stick, screaming “I wish I didn’t have a brother! I hate you!”
He ran a few paces ahead, his longer legs always keeping him just out of her reach. Then he turned and smirked and roared again. “I just have to get my roars out,” he retorted with a shrug, as if this display was unavoidable.
She screamed in frustration, a high-pitched yowl carrying across the neighborhood. Her too-short stick in hand, she stomped her way back to her bike. “I’m going home. I wish I had a sister. A million sisters!”
People walked past, their conversations quieting as they side-eyed us from the pavement. I nodded at them from my seat in the sun. Nothing out of the ordinary here; just a little sibling play-time.
It is day 50,451 of pandemic home time. The state is beginning to open up today, but we are still stuck here, together. We are seemingly free in the sunshine and grass, yet we are endlessly tethered to each other and this short radius around our house: playing with the same toys, watching the same movies, walking the same sidewalk, biking to the same bare public field across from long-forgotten, roped-off playgrounds.
I am over it. My kids are over it. I can’t blame either one of them for roaring or screaming or trying to impale each other with sticks. I get it.
I know the older couple with their judgmental stares were probably just missing their adorable grandkids and thinking that I ought to cherish my time of togetherness… but I guarantee their daughter-in-law is probably hiding in her closet eating leftover Easter candy while those adorable kids pummel each other with couch pillows.
(To be fair, my kids aren’t always waging war. Overall, they have actually gotten much closer during this time of forced companionship. But as they say: absence makes the heart grow fonder/how can I miss you if you never leave/when you’re stuck on a deserted island you even get fed up with your best friend Wilson.)
I’m just as lonely, bored and restless as my kids are (maybe more because I know what I’m missing). My husband went back to work today after 2 months disability due to a herniated disc, and I’m left here doing the same old shit in the same old place, now with one less adult to help out. My coping skills are feeling a bit shaky.
I want to get drunk (but sadly I don’t do that anymore).
I want to lose myself in a shopping spree (but all the good stores are closed and besides I think I gained 15 lbs).
I want to drive away into the sunset (but I really need new tires before I commit to a roadtrip).
I need friends. Not Zoom or FaceTime friends, but real, in-my-space, hugging-and-squeezing, pour-me-a-coffee-and-tell-me-your-troubles friends.
My kids need friends. Not online-school friends or wave-from-the-sidewalk friends, but other tiny people to play with… friends who aren’t me or their sibling, friends who will laugh at their poop jokes and care about Minecraft enchantments or Barbie hair design.
We came home from our “bike ride” this morning and I let the kids watch TV for some undisclosed amount of time. I also let them eat warmed-up pizza right there on the couch. I half-heartedly read a book out on the back patio while my daughter played with her babydolls at my feet. After a while the kids fought some more (I think this time it was over whose turn it was to stand on a scrap of plywood, but I am iffy on the specifics). Someone turned the sprinkler on and “accidentally” sprayed someone else (pretty sure the whole neighborhood heard that scream of D-list obscenities).
They watched more TV.
I made brownies and ate several.
My husband came home, I escaped for an hour or so, and wrote this blog. Had another brownie.
We are surviving.