My brother runs in circles around the pool, chased by our excited puppy. Across the backyard, illuminated by golden beams of sunlight, my dad barbecues our lunch. I’m sitting in my hammock, reading a novel, and soaking in the tranquil atmosphere. It’s easy to forget that it’s a Tuesday, in the middle of the work week—a day where we would normally all be rushing back and forth between events and activities. Before the shelter-in-place, even the weekends were too jam-packed with extracurriculars to stop and enjoy each other’s company. Now, being “stuck at home” has provided me with the opportunity to actually spend time with the people I share a home with, but never take the time to linger and hold a long conversation with.
Confined to my house with no escape from my parents, little brother, and 6-month-old goldendoodle has moments of frustration. There’s no peace and quiet—I am always accompanied by the sound of someone calling in for their latest meeting, chatting with a friend on the phone, the clattering of dishes on the counter, or, in the case of the dog, the incessant squeaking of a chew toy. Not to mention, I have no privacy; my brother will barge in showing me his latest Minecraft creation or my dog will amble into my room slobbering over a tennis ball, wanting to play. There have been a few moments when I was on the verge of tears because I was so frustrated with being in tight quarters with my family for such a long period of time.
But as the days of social distancing go on, I’ve come to see this time as a gift rather than a curse. There are no more extracurriculars filling up our schedules, and with both our schools closed and remote learning underway, the homework load is a fraction of what it once was. I’ve been able to play board games with my family and watch movies on school days for the first time in months, if not years. When I venture outside to walk my dog every day, the idyllic suburban streets of my neighbourhood are more populated than I’ve ever seen them, but not because people are defying the order to shelter-in-place. Rather, I see full families taking walks together—infants in strollers, cheerful elementary schoolers, relaxed teenagers, and carefree parents (and sometimes, a cute dog will be thrown into the mix as well).
It’s a surreal experience, considering how busy everyone in my family normally is. Before we started social distancing, it was hard to get two of us in the same room together for longer than five minutes. Now, I can leisurely chat for hours with my parents.
Instead of complaining about how annoying it is to spend this increased time with annoying siblings and nagging parents, I encourage us all to appreciate the opportunity staying at home is giving us. Life has ground to a halt in an effort to contain the pandemic. When we return to school and the shelter-in-place is lifted, it’ll be back to life as normal—homework, hours spent on after-school sports, and every moment taken by the frantic rush.
This is a chance to finally cook that recipe with your parents, or watch that new movie everyone’s been dying to see, or play an intense, hours-long game of Scrabble. Having everyone cooped up together with nowhere to go and nothing to do isn’t something to complain about; rather, it’s something to be grateful for.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons