DENVER — My family woke up with renewed enthusiasm. It was day one of virtual school. Online classes for my three teenage daughters started at 8:30 a.m. MT. My sleepy teens looked for coffee, pausing first to cuddle with our newly adopted kitten, a playful four-month-old Calico named Kona. I cooked breakfast while they nervously chattered about what to expect and how things might look.
“My teacher didn’t post the link for our google classroom. I better put on clothes and brush my hair if people are going to see me,” said one daughter.
“For our yoga class, we do three online classes. Mom, do you want to join?” said another.
“My teacher encouraged us to keep an account of what’s happening since this is such a huge moment in history. Never before has the whole world been shut down,” said the third.
After breakfast, the girls drifted away to their rooms, opened up their computers and started to work. All was quiet again in the kitchen, leaving an empty space for me to fill. As I washed dishes, I thought about my son. I was suddenly gripped with anxiety. He is quarantined at his Marine base, his leave and deployment revoked. We probably won’t see him for many months. The hardest part was that he hadn’t called to let us know how he was doing.
I paused to do the math and calculated three weeks since I have hugged anyone outside of our family. Neighbors waved from across the street. I used Zoom to do yoga with friends instead of meeting them at a studio. My twin daughters faced delayed high school graduation. Colorado is on stay-at-home orders which means we can only leave for essentials like groceries or to go to the doctor.
So far, to keep my family’s spirits up, I’d created a staycation-at-home resort. I’d planned themed dinners, painted, planted, and had dance parties. We’d supported our Grandma by buying her groceries and stood outside her home with uplifting signs while she waved to us from her balcony. We’d cooked and baked in the hopes that it would bring humor, fun and meaning to a difficult time. Because of our efforts, things were looking brighter.
Late in the afternoon, the girls came downstairs. Day one of online school was underwhelming. Instead of fighting, though, they had shifted into a rhythm of quiet ease and relaxed expectations. Everyone was kinder and more helpful.
At dinner, we took turns sharing our thoughts. One daughter said her generation had been through a lot. School shootings and teen suicides had alarmingly almost become the norm. We sat together and wrapped our heads around the idea that they have another obstacle to overcome. We collectively decided that because of all they’ve endured, they have strength, grit, resilience.
That same daughter decided she wanted to drive around and deliver words of encouragement to her friends. Another daughter said that her friends are lonely and she wanted to do the same. My third daughter asked if she could do something nice for Grammy. Because of COVID-19, they were acquiring more kindness, love, compassion.
Just then, the phone rang. It was my son. We put him on speakerphone and the family was ablaze with excitement to hear his voice. He was in a good mood and spoke rapidly. His outlook was positive and he said he was doing well and shared the bright sides to his situation. I was amazed. Now, I mused, I could see even more value in positivity, patience, and hope as we stay home during a global pandemic.
By Leslie Kinne
Leslie Kinne lives in Littleton, Colorado with her husband, teenagers and a menagerie of pets. She’s currently writing a historical fiction novel and enjoys time with her family, yoga and being outdoors in the Rocky Mountains.