We’ve been in “lockdown” since Monday. We only found out about the new restrictions the day before, on Sunday. The order for schools to close came late last week (effective Monday), as well as for almost all shops to be closed. But on Sunday, it was expanded: don’t leave your house unless required, don’t go out except for groceries, prescriptions, or necessary work (written permission required), no gatherings of more than 5 people, no gathering or going out with anyone not from your household, playgrounds shut, military and police to patrol, borders closed.
That escalated quickly.
That being said, the feeling here is tense, but not frightened; dutiful, not panicked. There is a collective hope that by taking drastic measures, upending our lives, changing basically everything, that we can mitigate this disaster. We’re happy to do it. We want to help, and it feels good to have a role to play.
We’re on day four of “remote learning” today. It’s a ton of work. I know that some (most?) kids in the world are stuck at home, glued to screens all day, bored, and bothering their parents as the parents try to work from home. I know that some parents are trying to navigate their full-time jobs as well as childcare that DOESN’T involve full-time TV or video games. (Spoiler alert: I’m pretty sure that doesn’t work. If you manage to figure it out, please let me know.) But my kids are still having school. ALL of school. The same classes, at the same times, as they would if they were in school. For us, that means two different schedules (elementary and middle school) with classes changing at different times. And their schedules are different every day. Some classes are being taught by conference call, some are being conducted by text, or by email, or by prerecorded video. Regardless, it’s intense. There’s a ton of work, new tech challenges to sort out, and almost none of the mitigating social interaction that 3rd and 6th graders survive on. I am lucky to have a very small workload right now (silver lining to being without a new freelance contract). If that weren’t the case, either the kids would not be getting their school work done, or I or my husband would not be getting our work done. As it is, most days, the kids are not finishing their school work and are sometimes following up 6 1/2 hours of “school from home” with another hour or two of “homework from home”. I am fighting against feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the expectations of the teachers (even while I am immensely grateful for and truly impressed by their efforts) and I’m trying (and, I think, probably failing) to not compound the kids’ stress with my own.
Our grocery stores and pharmacies are still open. The shelves are not bare. My neighbor went out and got five new chickens on Saturday morning, so we’ll survive on eggs, I guess, if things get tightened down further (and as long as our neighbors continue to like us). Dan was able to go out and pick up some staples at the store this week (including toilet paper, although we did get the last package).
Being expats comes with its own set of considerations, as it often does. We’ve contacted some friends and asked if they will care for the boys if Dan and I were to fall sick at the same time. With closed borders, airports shut down, and a pandemic raging that makes it especially dangerous to our parents to travel abroad (if they could even get into the country), we have to have a plan with a local solution.
As of now, we’re all fine, and life goes on, but these are very strange times. We are not isolated in any real sense — I see my neighbors when I hang up my laundry, or when the kids go out to play — but we FEEL very much on our own. As I tuck my boys in to their cozy beds at night, our home feels like a little island in an infinite sea, a tiny fortress of protection in the night. I sense that we are on our own in a way that we have never really been before. I hope that these efforts that we all are making, these minor sacrifices, have real consequences and maybe even help to save real lives. This will be worth it, a million times over, if that is what we get in exchange.