COVID No. 9: I Am Not an Epidemiologist, So Take My Optimism With a Grain of Salt

DON’T ASK ME HOW IT HAPPENED, and please don’t come at me tomorrow to see if it’s still there. But somehow, someway, to paraphrase the great Marshall Crenshaw, I found not simply acceptance today but optimism.

Maybe it was the dawning hope that a major project unexpectedly handed to me at my new job will be seen through successfully; maybe it was hearing R. cheerfully FaceTime with her cousin this afternoon; maybe it was the bracing 2-mile walk I took while it was still dark this morning; maybe it was the sun-soaked stroll around the neighborhood I took just before lunchtime. Whatever it was, the existential threat of the last several weeks just didn’t seem as looming today.

I’m under no illusions that the next several weeks won’t suck. But it’s … several weeks. Not years, not a lifetime. Several weeks of sucking it up, being there for each other, rolling with it. Yes, me and my family, we’re lucky. For now, and hopefully for as long as this lasts, we can do these things. We can afford to do these things. I hope that as a country, one assaulted by a sickness that cares not for race or age or status, we can close ranks and do the right thing by everyone.

I have sadly little confidence our government can do this. And this is not a both-sides-need-to-get-it-together thing; there’s a party that controls half of the Congress and the White House, and unfortunately it’s the party that has patted science, research, data, and evidence on the head and sent it strolling down the garden path while it catered to the shrinking, shriveling demographic of old straight white guys.

My hope is that the united will of the people — because, again, this is an illness that is striking down the high and the low; COVID-19 doesn’t play the us-versus-them game — can win the day.

Blind optimism, perhaps. But I believe there will come a time, a time not so long away, when I will hug my extended family and my dear friends, when I will shake hands with colleagues, when I will sit in the stands with a cold beer and cheer on my beloved Phillies, when I will go to work — actually go to work, not step into the home office and turn on my laptop. I do not envision this time as a dream or as a hope, but as an eventuality.

He said, eyeing a half-full glass. | DL

Why January 1 Is Such a Crappy Day

AND JUST like that, on the final day of break, it seemed to hit us all at once. Tomorrow, the girls will be back at school. Tomorrow, J. and I will be back at work. Tomorrow, real life returns.

So we spent today kind of grumping around, being snippy with each other and cranky at life in general. It’s not that real life is bad. It’s just that break life — sleeping in, trampolining, gathering with friends on weeknights (!) — is, well, better. And now that all of that is about to end, we’re a bit tetchy about it.

We’ll settle back in and get our respective mojos back, hopefully before we devour each other. Until then, here’s a prayer of gratitude to the calendar gods that we’re going back to a two-day work/school week. | DL

Seriously, Was There Anything Ever Better Than Beating Your Dad at Something?

WHEN SHE heard that her final indoor soccer game had been switched to a players-versus-parents scrimmage, R. uncaged her inner trash talker almost immediately.

“What do you think?” I wrote in forwarding her coach’s note about the change.

soccer shoes“4 words, Dad,” she emailed back. “I will cream you.”

That’s how I found myself yesterday morning wearing a t-shirt and shorts, standing inside an enormous complex of basketball courts and artificially turfed soccer fields, and hoping not to pull anything so severely that I couldn’t drive home.

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Cuteness Giveth, and Cuteness Taketh Away

FOR ALL of the poise and skill they show on the pitch, in the concert hall, and on the boards, R. and Q. lately have taken to reminding us that they are 11 and 6. It’s as if they don’t want Mrs. D. and me to get too smug in our parenting achievements. And it’s working.

R. is questioning every last request, comment, and direction, whether it involves her chores, her clothes, or her bedtime. “Why?” “Why not?” “No, I don’t.” “Yes, I do.” “But, Dad/Mom …” These are flung at us constantly, in response to the very smallest and most insignificant statement on our part. It’s a grinding ground war, and each instance of resistance represents another few inches of depth in the trench she continues to dig with dogged determination.

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Taking the Q Train: A New Way to Broadway?

curtainsLEST YOU think that R. is the only Dadlibbing daughter with artistic tendencies, rest assured that Q. is beginning to make her mark as well. At age 6.

A wonderful, dedicated mom at Q.’s elementary school is staging a couple of student-starring musicals next month to raise money for our Parent Teacher Organization. She recruited volunteers to help backstage and landed my piano teacher as the shows’ pianist. And she announced auditions in order to separate the actors into two groups: speaking parts and chorus.

What Mrs. D. and I didn’t realize until the night before was that Q. was supposed to memorize lines from one of the scenes for her audition. Each of us spent the remainder of the evening and some of the next morning running lines with her. By the time she left for school, script in hand for further study, she was doing pretty well. But she’s in kindergarten, after all, so we were all kinda, “Yeah, we should have started helping her earlier, but she’ll have fun in the chorus, and she’ll have plenty more chances in the years to come.”

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Fatherhood in C Major

SHE IS but 11, yet as R. stood on stage, her hair fixed just so, wearing a short-sleeve button-up shirt and a frilly black skirt, and running the bow across the strings of her violin with skill and poise, she looked much, much older.

Q. typically is the one we see as acting above her age. Because she’s scary-smart and loves to hang out with her big sister, she seems like a tween trapped in a 6-year-old’s body. R., though, the personification of sweetness, with a heart as big as the sky, is impossible to conceive of as less than two years away from being a teenager.

But at last week’s violin recital, dressed as she was, playing as she did, R. began — just barely, mind you — to come into focus as the young woman who’s not too far away. As much as I want to stave it off, it was a beautiful sight. | DL