I have found that what many people are calling the new “normal” (e.g. sheltered in place, job, and food insecurities) are what my family and I struggle with daily. Trying to be a student, a parent, and an everyday good human being, is sometimes tested with the pressures of work life, family issues, and trying to complete personal goals.
We receive food stamps to buy food and going to the food bank is our monthly norm to make up for food we lack toward the end of the month. However, now with more people going there for help and with social distancing, the food banks we go to are giving people prepared bags of food. Even though we are grateful for it, the change has caused us to receive food that we do not eat (i.e. beef, pork, pasteurized milk). We give these items we don’t use to our neighbors.
One of the fears my family and I face is that I am asthmatic, which makes me more susceptible to the coronavirus and high risk for severe symptoms. I am very optimistic that my daily routine of whisky and brandy in the past has hopefully built my resistance, but in all honesty, I am very serious about protecting myself and my family and I take my medications regularly as prescribed by my doctor.
As I sit on the school board for my district, I grapple with watching parents that normally drop their children off at the bus stop and go about their day, struggling to keep themselves and their children occupied. I have been able to help many parents because of my experience with homeschooling this past year and a half. The decisions we are making, as a school board for our district, have been very challenging to say the least. I have had conversations with parents that have the means to educate their children during this time with paid online courses, not understanding why equal education is important to move our children forward together.
I do miss being around people; I miss socializing although I am not a people person. It’s the people’s energy that I miss. At the forefront of my mind is advocating and solving the world’s problem of homelessness and poverty because living through it myself and with my family, I don’t want to see people struggle. I want to fix the problem.
I miss watching sports. Sports have always been my outlet to take my mind off the problems that we go through. I find it weird that although I am not a true basketball fan I missed March Madness.
I don’t want to seem like things are all gloomy.
What is good is we have the internet for now. We already homeschool our oldest son and internet access is mandatory. But unfortunately, we were behind on our payments and the internet was cut off. Now, because of the shelter in place ordinance, Comcast has given all customers in our area free internet access for two months and we have a reprieve to pay it off.
I thank God that a friend brought our boys a PlayStation 4 last year for Christmas. Before the library closed in my community, I was able to check out 40 books for each of us, 10 PS4 games, and 20 DVDs to watch. I have gotten further in some video games on the Playstation as well as getting beat by both of my sons in others. Having both of my sons brag about beating me has tested my emotions in competition. Now, we are enjoying binge watching television shows (FYI… do not watch any zombies or alien movies during this time… just saying).
But for real though, my sons have enjoyed having all of us at home at the same time. A special joy both my wife and I are experiencing is the extra one-on-one learning time at home with my youngest son, which I believe he is benefiting from.
The other joy is being able to talk to people that I normally do not talk to enough, such as my mother in Maryland, my cousin here in Washington State, and other people that I have the time to sit back and think about now.
We are hopeful that after all of this, our jobs will bring us back to work, and that school for my wife and our son will continue. I hope that for those who are experiencing this as their new “normal,” that you understand for others this is our normal. My family and I shelter in place every day because we have to. Most of the time we don’t have money to go anywhere to enjoy a day out as a family.
Like every other major challenge in this world, from tsunamis, earthquakes, terrorism, or snowstorms, we will all come out of this. Some will be left, some will be saved, and some will have continued on. However, memories, future, promises, and experiences are what we cherish.
Drayton Jackson is a member of the Central Kitsap School District Board of Directors and an Ascend Parent Advisor supporting the Aspen Postsecondary Success for Parents Initiative.