One of the hardest things about social distancing and stay-at-home, at least at first, was explaining to our young daughters (6 and 3) that we couldn't do some very basic things we would normally do.
They both usually go grocery shopping with me, loving the outing and the free samples. The past few times, of course, I've gone alone. On Sunday, I wore a bandana and gloves — but first I waited 10-15 minutes, moving 6 feet and one white X at a time, to get into the limited-capacity store.
At first this was extremely sad for my 6-year-old. Now when I head out and explain why she can't come, she just shrugs and says, "Daddy, I know that already."
On our nearly daily walks and runs — sometimes just me and the two older kids but often with my wife and 3-month-old son along as well — we inevitably pass by one of our neighborhood playgrounds.
The first time we had to explain why we couldn't play there — clumsily saying it was "closed" even though it looks the same as it ever did — our 3-year-old had something resembling a meltdown.
Now she still points to it and says, "The playground!" But after we remind her we can't go, she says, "Yeah, because a lot of people are getting sick." She has replaced the playground with a bizarre but wonderful ritual: visiting the spider.
A couple blocks past the playground, there's a house with a large concrete platform at the end of the driveway. And on top of the platform, there is a large plastic spider. Both girls LOVE seeing it, poking it with a stick and spending a good 10-15 minutes doing it.
I'm sure that at some point today I will be asked: "Can we go see the spider?"
So yes: The kids are going to be OK, and I don't just think we're telling ourselves that. They are amazingly adaptable for several reasons, but mostly this: They live in the present and are not prisoners of their memories.
As for the adults … well, we're doing the best we can. Our lives have slowed down in some ways, sped up in others and converged in almost every way. We, too, are remarkably resilient.
But as you get older you view everything that is happening now through the lens of what has already happened. Adults often have to remind themselves to stay in the present; for young kids, it seems to be the default setting.
Our pasts are deeply contextualized, and the weight of that context and experience comes rushing forward when reality is altered even a little — like wearing a bandana to the grocery store.
Maybe this explains why I have barely watched any TV — maybe an hour in the past three weeks — in the midst of our new (temporary) reality. Some of it is time, of which there is far less with three little kids at home and work-life blending in ways that are both exhausting and wonderful.
But a lot of it is this: I'd say 80% of the TV I used to watch was live sports. And now there are pretty much 0% live sports happening. I really dislike watching any game where I know the result. Replayed games aren't in my sweet spot.
What little snippets I have seen of replayed games — many of them all-time classics — seemed to me a mixture of strangeness, sadness and comfort. Probably in that order.
Maybe you've experienced this with replayed games or other TV you are watching, but it is JARRING to see people so close together — fans packed tightly in the stands, basketball players careening off each other.
Why is Michael Jordan not social distancing?
At the time, of course, these things were completely normal. Even a month ago, they were completely normal.
Knowing they are not normal now is strange — and sad. Too much past experience makes us keenly aware of everything we used to have that we can't have right now, even if we are dutifully giving up that freedom for the greater good.
A lot of you, though, have successfully suppressed that voice and allowed yourselves to relive a past sports glory relatively context-free. Those games provide a certain comfort and sense of normalcy, which I completely understand and maybe in some ways envy.
Whatever it is that's bringing you joy and comfort right now is a victory. Maybe I'll be ready and have the time at some point to watch some of those old games, too.