"I hate this, dad," with a sullen frown. "I know sweetie." "At first I liked it, it was a break from school, but now it's too much."
Olivia's words break my heart, as a vibrant thirteen year old has been transformed from a young student-athlete to a Generation Z Rapunzel. She misses the in-person contact with her friends and has been robbed of her track season.
"I don't miss school, I don't miss homework and some of my teachers are too strict."
"Luke, you need to do your work one way or another. There's no option."
The boy, sixteen months younger and worlds apart from his sister in his mindset with school, is suffering from the isolation. Video games and virtual chats with friends are no substitute. His cracks started to show early, as the structure of classes and homework went out the window within a week of their middle school closing its doors. We've been driving ten minutes, and it's too short of a trip at 7:30 at night. There's not enough daylight remaining for a Friday night joyride to nowhere. Not enough daylight for window shopping, or to enjoy the empty Main Streets that dot the south shore.
Storefronts and restaurants won't be lit, people won't be coming and going. The only hustle and bustle at this time of day are people making their final run to a supermarket or convenience store before they start shutting down early for the night. Early during any other time, but now the norm during the new reality.
Six weeks into quarantine, and it's taking its toll on everyone. Adults and children alike, people are cracking. Shorter on patience, growing anxiety and mounting boredom. Frustration grows with the million dollar question: when will life get back to normal, enabling people to get back to work and school? Mid-March seems so long ago to us, and the summer seems so far away. The skies are grey as April showers will bring May flowers. We're also hoping staying in for April will lead to getting out in May. Government officials are hesitant to make any promises, businesses are doubtful and the population is chomping at the bit for any type of go-ahead from health experts everywhere.
"We're going to take a long ride tomorrow, we're going to head east for a change of scenery." I give them a thought to change the subject, hoping to lose the mood that's setting in tonight.
"What are we going to do?" asks Luke.
"Nothing. We can't do anything; there's nothing to do. There's only places to see. But it's a change of scenery away from here. Beats the hell out of sitting inside looking at the walls," I offer up. I'd rather look out car windows than continue to imprison these kids for another couple of days. Days, which seem to meld together. There have been moments over the last couple of weeks where I couldn't tell you if it were Tuesday or Wednesday. To help me, I've had to look at my work calendar to make sure I'm going to be up in time and logged on to catch a morning meeting the following day.
We pull into the lot, and after grabbing their weekend bags Olivia tries to negotiate the consolation prize with herself. "It would be really bad if it were stormy out and we were quarantined."
I can only imagine Olivia's talking about going through a lock-down in the middle of Winter. In my mind, I agree. It would be dreadful. While Winter is usually spent hunkered down, there are nights out at a restaurant and/or a movie. Shopping. Holiday fun. If that were taken away, it would be unimaginable. But I don't even go down the road in keeping the conversation going. It's time to let it die, get inside and get to card games, board games and a movie.
Social life and making plans beyond our front doors this Spring has been reduced to window shopping; destinations unknown.