Two Fridays ago (September 4th), I received a call from the local health department. The conversation went something like this.
Lady: "Can I speak to Mr. _______?"
Me: "That's me."
Lady: "I am from the _______ County Health Department."
Me (thinking to myself): "Oh, no!"
Lady: "I am calling to inform you that someone you were in contact with this week has tested positive for COVID."
I am not an advocate for tearing up a messenger, just because she has to deliver a tough message. But man, I sure did not like her message.
Big Family Problems
My wife and I are extremely blessed with 6 kiddo. Some of you might need to take a nap, because you are exhausted just thinking about half a dozen children under one roof.
The kind health department lady was informing me that we needed to social distance in the house, not be close to each other at meal times, and she provided a semi-long list of things that we should do and not do (standard COVID prevention protocol stuff).
We don't live in a tiny house, but if you take into the account the square footage of our rental home (about 2200 sq ft) and divide that by 8 people, each person has an average of 275 square foot to live in during our quarantine. That is not a lot of space when you think about all of the bodies that are floating around at any given moment. And a large portion of the house is shared spaced (two bathrooms, the kitchen and dining area, and so many light switches/door knobs).
I graciously spoke with and listened to the lady, but the whole time I had a huge grin on my face. I know that she is just doing her job, but man, oh man, she does not understand big family problems. My family is not average (1.93 children per household source). We are over 3 times average.
Protecting Each Other
Of course, we were going to do our best to keep each other safe, even if that meant wearing masks in the house and limiting snuggles to a minimum. The kind lady recommended that we not come in contact with each other at all, but that is not feasible when you have littles who are prone to bumps and boo-boos.
Normal life (whatever thats means) was about to be throw out the window.
The First, But Not The Last
We had to step up our game when the first family member started showing some symptoms of COVID. And guess what? I was the first.
Just one day after the kind health department lady reached out to me, I started having a head ache, a sore throat, and a bit of fatigue. One falling domino can cause many more to fall. The next morning my oldest daughter started showing the same symptoms.
That same day we drove to the local walk in client, BUT DID NOT walk in! I had called ahead and confirmed the process we needed to follow. A nurse came out to our vehicle, took some vitals, and informed us that our COVID test orders would be ready the next day. Sometimes things are a bit slower in small towns (especially on Sundays). Fortunately, I was off from work on Monday in observation of Labor Day. Unfortunately, a medical professional dressed in something that appeared like a hazmat suite was going to be shoving a long tube down my nose on my day off.
After my daughter and I returned home, my wife informed me that three more kiddos were showing the same symptoms - headache, sore throat, and fatigue.
Us Versus Them
Just one day earlier, I was "stuck" in a room with one of my kiddos. Now five of us were enjoying each other's company. Instead of each person enjoying 275 square feet of the house, five of us were sharing less than 275 square feet of the house (way less).
We, the sickies, had to be isolated from them, the remaining three people who were not showing symptoms. In this case, our "us versus them" mentality was not intended to divide our family, but rather show our love for each other and our desire to protect one another.
Homeschool Teacher Turns Nurse
My wife is one of the most kind and hospitable people you will ever meet. What she does is not a front so that she can be seen by the outside world. What she does is a reflection of who she is, and she graciously serves our family in so many ways.
If we were all healthy, our "COVID" week would be like any normal week.
- Our kiddos would be spread throughout the house at their various desks studying.
- My wife would have been reading read-a-louds and history curriculum to the kiddos.
- Those who can read on their own would have found their favorite bean bag or reading corner.
- Creative juices would have been flowing - coloring pages, knitting projects, and who know what else.
- everyone was quarantined from the outside world.
- 6 members of our family were quarantined in the two "sick bays."
- my wife graciously served everyone in the house (but she always does that).
- homeschool was put on hold, because life was put on hold.
- we watched way too many movies :)
One More Domino and Five Covid Tests
Like I said, a single falling domino can knock a series of dominos. In total six people started showing symptom (75% of the people who live in our house).
We got my oldest daughter's test back first - negative. Two days later, I received my test results - negative. I have no idea why my test results came back two days later when we tested on the same day. Three other kiddos were also tested - fortunately, not through the nose , but rather a throat swab. Still not pleasant, but much better.
Three more tests back - all negative.
COVID did not hit our homes, but the fear/the possibility of it hitting in light of our exposure to a positive patient made a huge impact on our lives.
When COVID Hits Too Close To Home(school)
A few weeks ago, we were living our "normal lives". We were being cautious, but taking calculated risks.
Those risks led us to being in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID. But risks are inherent since a part of our family's worldview is that we live life in community (click here to read more about my worldview).
Living in community impacts how we live life with people outside of our home and how we live life with family who lives in our four walls. It positively (and sometimes negatively) impacts our health (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual), our celebrations, our recreation, our homeschool, our time around the table, and many other aspects of life.
Today is the last day of our quarantine from the outside world. We are all excited about that. Whatever bug hit us has moved on. We are excited about that as well!
As my wife and I have reflected on the last 10 or so days, we keep asking "How do we live life well with others while protecting those who live in our home?"
It is a tough question with no cookie-cutter answers. Each of our will respond differently.
I appreciate that our decision to homeschool (and our experience homeschooling) provides us with flexibility. Our schedule is not confined to that of a traditional school. We do not have missed homework, tests, or assignments (as if those are the true measurement of learning). We get to start this week with a new, clean (healthy) slate.
Since education is not exclusive to a classroom setting with rigid curriculum, there are life lessons that our family needs to process.
- How do we love and support other people when we might not be able to be near other people?
- What sacrifices are we willing to make to keep people in our home (and outside of our home) healthy?
- What freedoms do we choose to exercise even when we cannot guarantee our safety and the safety of others?
Living through a pandemic is a unique teaching opportunity - one I hope that all of the @homeedders community takes advantage of!
Thanks for stopping by!