In the year B.C. (before COVID) I was living a pretty typical hipster lifestyle. In an urban neighborhood, walking distance from the local coffee shop, I ordered my espresso with a splash of oat milk. On Thursdays, my three children (ages two, five, and eight) squealed with delight when our barn to door delivery brought locally sourced produce. So you can imagine my surprise when I heard myself say:
1. “Three Happy Meals, please.”
As the children cheered, I realized this wasn’t the first time A.D. (amongst the darkness) that words had an odd ring to them. The most jarring moment was when I swore out loud. I came from a family who spoke fondly with swear words. As a kid, I never liked how it sounded, so I swore I would never swear. But then the pandemic happened and I heard myself say,
2. “2020 can eat a bag of dicks.”
It rolled off my tongue with such ease, as if I was saying “pass the butter.” It was just so satisfying. I kept saying it. ALL THE TIME. In a year where nothing is going right, I kept hearing myself saying all the wrong things.
Reunions, day’s off, summer vacation, all canceled. For the Fourth of July in the years B.C. and before kids, I would get up at 5 a.m. to camp out on the sand saving a spot for my crew and the keg that we would bury in the sand. Not this year.
3. “Let’s not go to the beach. Too many parties.”
Too many parties? Too many parties? The words taunted me as they echoed through my head. After 12 weeks of being “safe at home” with five humans sharing one bathroom, in a 900 square foot space, with two adults trying to work, I started questioning everything.
When I decided it was time to take the kids, to venture outside, to a park, I knew there would be a struggle. Just leaving the house.
4. “You can have ice cream if you just get in the car.”
5. “Did you wash your hands? Don’t make me repeat myself. Seriously though, did you wash your hands?”
Getting my three young children to wear masks was painful, but worse was explaining to them why others weren’t following the rules.
6. “That man isn’t wearing a mask because he got elected by other people who don’t wear masks.”
When the kids “transitioned” to online school, the district supplied electronic devices for every student in need. In the years B.C., my kids lived in a house where there was no limit on screen time because there was no screen time. No cable. No Netflix. No Disney Plus. To the surprise of guests, no television was in the house. We went from a no electronic home to eight hours a day on electronics. When we finished the school year, I realized there was no going back.
7. “If you’re not listening, you’re not getting your three hours of TV today.”
I gave them, and myself, a pass because it’s a very confusing time to be a child. It’s also a very confusing time for adults, explaining the why’s of it all.
8. “People are eating at restaurants, but school’s canceled.”
9. “The five-second rule doesn’t apply anymore.”
10. “You can’t touch grandma.”
11. “COVID is not worse than being eaten by a bear.”
I teetered between embarrassing my kids lecturing,
12. “Don’t suck your mask!”
To embarrassing myself, lecturing other people’s kids:
13. “Wearing a mask is just like wearing a condom!”
I shouted across the street to my home-from-college neighbor.
I judged myself.
14. “My screen time is 10 hours today, down 2% from last week.”
I judged others.
15. “You joined a pod?”
And when I felt left out asked,
16. “Can I join your pod?”
Work-life balance turned into cohabitating with my coworker. Annoyed that I kept asking him,
17. “What day is it again?”
EVERY SINGLE DAY. Which left me reporting to friends,
18. “My coworker keeps hiding in the bathroom.”
In this unprecedented time, I have sat on the curb, laughing with my neighbor sitting across the street, finding moments to reminisce about the years and months B.C.
19. “Remember the good ol’ days when we used to blow out birthday candles?”
The shared experience brings us all closer together. Yes, this year sucks. And eventually, even when we make it through to the other side, we’ll probably still think of 2020 as the year that can eat a bag of dicks.