Sunday, May 31, 2020

Risks & Benefits

When we started thinking about what to write this month, we talked a lot about the risks and benefits, pros and cons of the shelter-in-place here in the Bay Area. As we consider things like day care, preschool, outings - weighing the risks and benefits is a major task.

So yes, we will talk about that some. We're also going to talk some about racism.

We're a white family. We have no clue what it's like to be a racial minority where we live. The risks of our whiteness are non-existent and the benefits are plentiful. We didn't do anything to be born white, and neither did our kids. They don't "deserve" whiteness, but they will benefit from it all the same.

There aren't any grand truths here - just acknowledgement. As much as we try to better ourselves and our understanding of how to be a good ally, we also have to make sure Everett and Imogen understand more quickly than we did. While we were taught to be kind to all and empathetic to the nebulous "less fortunate," it didn't go much beyond that. It's time to go beyond that - here, in our white family, where we could easily ignore it without any risk. The benefit is to encourage better allies, better partners, and hopefully part of a better future.

If you are also interested in helping your kids do better, we've found Books for Littles a great place to start.

Snuggling - May 9, 2020

Back to that other major thing going on in the world right now. Again, it hasn't impacted us personally. We have not contracted the virus, and no one in our close family or friends has died. We are extremely lucky. Part of that luck is due to our compounded privilege (which feels important to acknowledge right now).

Why to keep the kids home.
  • We don't know the exact risk of infection, but it the kids are home - that risk approaches zero. It is certainly the safer option if all we consider is coronavirus particles.
  • We barely use our car. Less energy use, less pollution (although the electric charge on our plug-in hybrid can get us anywhere we go these days), less time sitting in traffic.
  • Lunch break with the kids is infinitely better than eating lunch at our desks.
  • Spending time in a home we love and enjoying the back yard far more than we ever have before is a luxury.
  • It is manic to work while child-minding, but we also get so many precious moments of interaction or observation that we don't get when we are separated. We are doing more crafts and activities together, simply enjoying our family.
  • Taking walks and exploring our neighborhood has connected us more - we have met and connected with more neighbors than ever before.
Backyard time - May 1, 2020

Why to send the kids to day care / preschool.
  • Everett and Imogen are getting split-focus parenting most of the time on weekdays. It's not fair to them for Mommy and Daddy to be on calls and asking for patience, for walking away because we are in the middle of something, for disappearing during important calls. They deserve an engaged caregiver.
  • The other side of that coin is split-focus work. Going in and out of "work mode" and "parent mode" makes it difficult to be effective or efficient doing work tasks. A focused hour yields so much more than a split-focus three. 
  • It's exhausting to switch between "work mode" and "parent mode" so often. We're mentally spent by dinnertime.
  • After the kids are in bed, instead of winding down we catch up on work and do craft/lesson planning for the next day. Sometimes it's fun to plan things for them, and sometimes it's just exhausting.
  • The kids miss their friends. We all do, but adults are better equipped to handle it. We are so grateful that Everett and Imogen have each other, but they are missing their peers. They pretend to be their friends or assign us roles. They have had a handful of video chats, but we all know that's not the same.
  • They aren't getting the peer feedback they need. To grow and develop into empathetic humans, they need time with their peers. They need to learn how to make (and keep) friends, how their behavior impacts others, that families come in all shapes and sizes, that there are multiple ways to do things. It's very hard to do that from the bubble of our household.
Rocket ship craft - May 11, 2020

How to choose?
  • Number one is going to be the public health risk that the coronavirus still poses. We are watching our county absolute numbers and trends to see when we think the benefits of outside care outweigh the risks of exposure. 
  • Part of us wants to just keep them home forever, but that isn't good for them in the long run. It's true that it isn't good for us either, but we are focusing on them with regards to this decision. If we asked them, they'd both want to go back tomorrow.
  • Some things that have made us feel better: kids are generally less impacted, medicine is learning more and more about treatment strategies, and some people have already been ignoring shelter-in-place and there isn't a huge spike yet.
Where do we land? We wish we knew. One day at a time for now.

Hiking at Uvas Canyon, delayed Mother's Day - May 14, 2020

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