Photo by Jo Joseph
As we all know, high school is really that last stop before our childhood’s end. Once completed, we, in some ways, start our adulthood. Whether it’s by going to college to get a degree, getting a job or taking on a bigger responsibility, we lose our time of just being a kid. For me, and I’m sure for many others, this coronavirus pandemic has forced me to grow up and face reality.
I am currently a junior with challenging classes, a sister with brothers who need her parenting, a teenager who is preparing physically for law enforcement and the military and a daughter who hopes to be a lending hand and a shoulder to cry on for her parents.
My goal here is to share the reality of life during a pandemic as I know this is truly a unique and rare time. I also hope to share advice for those of you who are also juggling a lot during this time.
When talks of a quarantine started, one of my first thoughts was, “How will this affect my younger brothers?” Being that my brothers are twins who are just six years old, I knew this time would be very difficult for them. I had no doubt in my mind that I could watch after them and be sure they were living their childhoods as best as possible. For many families, unfortunately, there is no one to watch after their children and ensure they are able to still be happy kids. That is, not without a price.
At the start of school being suspended, teachers were still working on plans for students to do work at home. I, however, felt that I couldn’t just watch my brothers’ little minds rot from tablets and television, so I planned school for them on my own. I used the resources I had at home to practice the basics with them and was even able to teach them new things. I feel that keeping a schedule close to reality has helped my brothers stay calm. At first, one of my brothers refused to change his daily schedule and even demanded “school” to start at the same time. Although annoying, I found his willingness to keep learning as cute, so I did my best to play teacher.
Through this whole process of watching, teaching and parenting my brothers, I truly have learned so much. I’ve never been opposed to helping around the house, but now I find a great sense of pride in doing so. I cook for everyone more, I clean daily, I even insist on ensuring the kids finish their work. I’m in complete mom mode, but I think that’s totally fine. Through this, my brothers and I have created this amazing bond that I don’t think would have been made otherwise. They rely on and look up to me a lot more than they had before.
There are downsides to being in mom mode, though. Although many now find themselves bored and left with nothing to do, I honestly can say I have never been this busy. Now, I’ve always been a person with a busy schedule. Had life continued normally, my schedule would’ve consisted of softball, boxing, school, the Explorers Program (a sheriff program meant to adapt kids to a law enforcement life) and family time. Even with everything canceled and closed down, I find myself struggling to get everything I can do done. Watching after my brothers truly takes up most of my day until around five o’clock when my mom gets home from work. That leaves me with little to no time to finish schoolwork, workout and sleep a sufficient amount.
School is very important to me and I’ve always taken on challenging classes because I felt I could manage my time. But, I could not have ever planned to take hard classes while quarantined. After some time figuring out how to juggle it all, I realized I can get about two hours of work done during the day whenever my brothers had their breaks and do more once my parents got home.
Now, I also absolutely must make time for working out daily. I want to be in law enforcement and the military one day, so staying in shape is huge to me. Usually softball and boxing would do for me, but now I’ve had to figure out at home workouts and make time for them. So every morning I wake up early to get schoolwork done and get my workout in. This workout consists of legs, arms, abs and full body exercises. I get in my cardio once my parents get home by running around my neighborhood, jumping rope, jumping on the trampoline and doing some boxing exercises. If you can’t find the motivation to workout right now, I suggest you try working out for five minute periods throughout the day. Five minutes will feel like nothing, but as you add on more throughout the day, you’ll get that exercise your body needs.
All of what I talked of before are things that can be controlled. They’re all about time managing and simply not getting lazy. But having a household of a family who work in healthcare is something that can’t be controlled. My mom works on the management side of things at her hospital where she’s being bombarded with work both day and night. Her job is to ensure the safety at her hospital and to make sure everything is running smoothly, which, I’m sure you can imagine, is hard during a pandemic. My dad works in the operating room and has the highest risk of infection in my household. He works at two hospitals and is interacting with patients daily at them both.
The hardest part of all of this is watching them. They come home exhausted, stressed and concerned. They are the ones on the frontlines seeing the true horrors of COVID-19 take place.
To add on to it all, my grandma lives with us, and she too works at a hospital. Her job is to clean. I’ve always greatly respected my grandma. She immigrated to the United States on her own with little to no money and no home to come to. She has worked hard her whole life to create this amazing life that myself and the rest of my family have. Including that is important to this story because I want you all to realize something. Most of the workers cleaning and disinfecting all these hospitals are older and immigrants. These hard workers get the hardest job for not being raised in the U.S. I don’t say this to start a political discussion, I say this to remind you of who is doing our dirty work. I want you to know that my grandma, and many others like her who are going unseen, are out there fighting this coronavirus too.
A day I will always remember is when my grandma came home in tears after work. She was not crying from how tired she was or from being overwhelmed, she was crying because her heart is so big. She told me that seeing all the workers who directly are helping the COVID-19 patients is hard for her because she feels for them as they are really going through it. She says all those nurses work long hours having to wear masks that leave marks on their faces every day. Seeing their dedication and care made her feel the full force of the pandemic.
We have to be thankful and support each other during these times. I find it my responsibility as a decent human being to be there for my family. Especially because I know that one day they might not be able to come home. The reality of life with healthcare workers is that they are putting themselves at risk. I have to be aware that I might have to take care of my brothers alone as my family is out protecting us.
I know many of you have parents who are struggling to pay bills. Don’t blame them, this is not their fault. These times are hard for us all in one way or another. Hold on to the fact that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy and that there are heroes out there helping those who need it. It’s hard to be stuck at home and follow all these new safety rules, but do it for the sake of our future.
I stay calm and keep moving on by knowing that it will all pass. Remain hard working and optimistic and these times will go by faster than you know it.