September 3, 2020
When I wrote my last “Hip Grannie,” it was Day 23 of our citywide quarantine – but it seemed like Day 365. I naively thought that this quarantine would last a couple more weeks and then we’d be back to normal.
As I write this column, we are now on Day 137 and it seems like light years away from where we started. Yes, I deserve 20 lashes with a wet yoga mat for being so optimistic in April.
But, then, I’d never been through a quarantine before. I had no idea what “shelter in place,” “social distancing,” or “mask up”meant. Life became a day-to-day effort and every day seemed like Tuesday.
I began to do what every good, self-respecting grandmother does: worry about the effect this time in our lives was having on her kids and grandkids. And so, I decided to quit tossing and turning and go directly to the source. I asked my grandkids Rylan and Amelia.
“Kids, I believe that out of bad, comes good. You’ve been through an incredible few months. How ya doin’? Start with the good things,” I said.
Without missing a beat, Rylan, 13, said he’d been working out more and loved having more family time while his Mom and Dad worked from home. Each afternoon the four of them took long bike rides or walks and saw parts of the city they’d never seen much. He’d gotten more into music and enjoyed his “me time.”
When I asked what he did with “me time,” Rylan said, “I’ve been thinking about the big picture, that this quarantine isn’t just about New Orleans anymore. It’s the whole world. I mean, this happens only once every 100 years, so it will be in history books and I’ll be able to tell my kids and grandkids about it. That’s big.”
Amelia, 10, nearly blew me away when she said that she’s taken the time to learn something she’s always wanted to learn: sign language. She’s now almost able to have a simple conversation with a deaf person, and she taught herself using online resources.
She’s spent more time doing crafts, especially sewing, and thinks she may start a business making scrunchies for ponytails. I’ll be first in line to buy some, even though I don’t have a ponytail.
Of course, there are the hard parts of the quarantine.
Both kids desperately miss their friends and realize now how special those relationships are. They miss their soccer, basketball, volleyball, and the theater practices at St. George’s. Their family vacations and their sleep-away camp in Arkansas were evaporated into thin air by the virus. Most of all, they miss just being a kid with other kids.
“Basically, the virus tore away everything I love doing,” said Rylan. “And it really makes me mad that so many people aren’t following the rules.”
New Orleans schools are scheduled to reopen soon, some virtually, some in person. But nothing will be the same for so many kids.
I’d like to maintain my Pollyanna stance and say that in many ways we may all be better for having been through this once-every-100-years-experience. The universe has jerked our chains and reminded us that people, the environment, relationships, and our freedom to enjoy life as we darn well please matter. It’s pretty obvious that my grandkids have gotten this message loud and clear.
I’ll quit worrying about them. At least for now.
Laura Claverie is Nola Family‘s Hip Grannie. She is a local mother, grandmother, and writer. Read Quarantine Blues: Part I here.