Quarantine in Illinois USA

 In Down Syndrome Community Voices, The DS Advocate

Picture is of Charles with the one assignment that he was willing to do, thankfully, wearing a shirt.

I have been keeping a journal of sorts outlining what we have been doing during this strange time.  One of the strangest parts is that though I have much more time on my hands now, the writing is coming very slowly.  I’ll write a few stream-of-consciousness type sentences, then nothing for days and days.  Like most every other thing, writing is more difficult these days.  The only thing I seem really good at at the moment is sleeping.  I am a champion sleeper at the best of times, but quarantine has me sleeping ten hours a day, and still waking up tired.
Quarantine looks different for everyone. For us, it means that Danny still goes to work, but fewer hours than he had before.  Since he is a union Sheet Metal Worker, and they are deemed essential, he is one of the lucky(?) ones.  I’ll leave out the part where he was supposed to have shoulder surgery right before everything went to hell.  There was never going to be a good time to have shoulder surgery, but it turns out that right now is the absolute worst time, so it has gotten pushed back until God knows when.  So, my dear husband is working in pain.
My job is also deemed essential.  I do accounts payable for a private notforprofit that provides services to people with a learning disability.  I have been able to work from my kitchen most days, which is not as great as it sounds, though I am trying not to complain.  I feel grateful that I am still able to work, but endlessly annoyed by answering emails from my kitchen table.  HOW DARE my coworkers annoy me in my kitchen?!?  Why is it that the people that aggravate me on a daily workday basis aggravate me ten times more now?  I have always preferred to keep my work AT work and my home at home.   It sucks when you can’t escape your boss, and the office know it all, even in the comfort of your own home.
Then, there are the kids.  There is always so much worry on the typical parenting plate.  More so on the “special needs” parenting plate.  These days, however, most of my normal worries seem laughable in the face of actual life and death ones.
Our oldest (23) has Autism and anxiety.  He has trouble holding down a job for these reasons.  He landed a job at a local grocery store just after Christmas of last year, and guess what?  Grocery store clerks are essential.  This has been a good and bad thing for him.  Keeping a routine has been a huge blessing.  But, for a young adult with Autism and anxiety, dealing with customers under normal circumstances can be trying.  Add in the idea that you might be picking up a potentially deadly illness while interacting with them can be positively nervewracking.  Such has been the case with my son; but he has coped much better than I could have ever imagined.  It’s funny how his hand washing OCD has come in so handy!  Who would have thought?
Our middle guy, Charles, has Down syndrome, and at 21, is in his secondtolast year before they kick him out of school.  The stress of that is again, a story for another day.  Forgive me if I hyperventilate over that for a moment before continuing.  Okay
Some parts of the “School from home” have been great for him.  The Zoom part has been a really good way for him to see everyone and stay in touch.  Not having to get up early has been JUST PERFECT!  He is a champion sleeper like his mom, so, mornings are not his thing.  The meetings start at 10, which is just about the time this kid is ready to do anything.
The problems arise when he decides that since he has a captive virtual audience, he will log in to the meeting bare-chested, to show off his muscles, or, he decides boxers are enough pants to wear.  I try and give him his space, so only hear about these things after they have happened.  Then, we have to have a conversation about proper Zoom conference attire.  I’m sure he thinks I am full of it, because I have not worn proper work pants (as in work trousers, not work underwear!), outside of the one day a week I need to go into the office, for over two months.  I don’t do Zoom calls, though, so I can get away with it.
There is also an issue with him just completely ignoring most of the assignments.  My kid is not the most motivated to begin with.  He was never going to get an award for being a conscientious student.  Now, with no one looking over his shoulder, trying to get an assignment out of him is laughable.  He has never cared about consequences, and no amount of reasoning, bribery, cajoling or threatening will ever work on him.  The kid just does not do what he does not want to.  It’s as simple as that.  I gave up fighting this particular battle long ago. I work enough during my own work hours.  To have to oversee school assignments is a bridge too far.  I am not THAT mom.
There is one of those moms in C’s class.  She is there, just out of sight during the calls, but you can hear her prompting her daughter, who also has Down syndrome.  All that kid’s assignments are done, I can assure you.  I wonder where her mom finds the time and the patience to make this happen?  I have the feeling that this girl actually LIKES school, unlike my guy; so there is that.  I’ve given up caring, or comparing for the most part.
The kid has been doing extra chores around the house, and has been totally thriving in that department.  My laundry has never been so clean, or put away so neatly.  He has been hauling (and occasionally hurling) large stones in the garden to make room for the pond we are putting in.  These are the real life skills, aren’t they?  Math was never going to be the way forward.  Hurling rocks, though?  That’s the stuff.  We’ll find his niche yet.
Our youngest son (20) spent the first six weeks of quarantine at his girlfriend’s house.  This shocked a lot of people, but as with the school work, I am beyond caring about it.  Given the choice between scandal and keeping my kids healthy, I will choose scandal.  Our youngest was doing his best at keeping his brother (who he shares a room with) safe, and that was good enough for me.  He is a responsible kid, and this is hard enough on everyone without throwing in “never see your girlfriend”.
Now, I need to try and gather the strength to pull together a slightly nutritious meal for the five of us.  There may be some actual kale in tonight’s meal, as I am feeling somewhat ambitious, or, at least I was when I read the recipe and bought the kale.
Stay safe, everyone!

 

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