April 20, 2020

Our new normal: under “Quaranteen” with 5 Teenagers.

Elephant’s Continually updated Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon


I am fairly certain that the word quarantine is misspelled.

The spelling gods would have spelled it as quaranteen if they would have thought about what this word means to teenagers.

I have five beautiful, smart, thoughtful, genuine, obedient, and caring teenagers. An 18-year-old, a 17-year-old, and three 15-year-olds, all in high school. All involved in their respectable extracurricular activities ranging from student government, baseball, soccer, football, and basketball. Evenings always consisted of practices, games, and friends.

My wife and I had become professional chauffeurs and gamers. I rarely had to worry about making plans, they were already made for me. For my kids, always being around friends, activities in many forms, and always having something to do, and a place to go was what they were used to. Being around friends, classmates, and teammates wasn’t just a part of their life—it was their life.

Then it happened. School was temporarily shut down, athletics suspended, then cancelled. Then no prom, the possibility of no more school for the year, no graduation, no more parties, no hanging out. Life as they knew it just stopped.

There wasn’t a gradual change. No real warning. It just came to a complete halt.

Maybe there was a brief thought that, hey I can sleep in, play video games, and binge-watch “Gilmore Girls.” This could be awesome with mom and dad at work all day! Oh sh*t! Dad is now working from home and making us get up in the morning for nothing. This e-learning thing doesn’t stand for electronic-learning. It stands for this-is-a-royal-pain-in-my-ass-learning! I can’t believe that this is happening to me. I never really went to school to learn. I just wanted to be with my friends. The learning part was just a side effect of the friend part.

Life, as far as my kids were concerned, was over.

Being with their friends and teammates is, hands down, the most important thing in their lives. FaceTime, texting, Zoom, and Xbox Live just don’t cut it. And then came the blame game. They didn’t want to blame the usual crowd: not Pelosi, Trump, Governor Herbert, the school board, or God. They wanted to take it out on their parents—the ones enforcing this stupid quaranteen.

Does anyone reading this remember when they were teenagers? Seriously think back to those years. How would you have felt about all this? How would you have reacted? For me, friends and athletics were everything. I was invincible. One measly little virus wasn’t going to stop me, and I sure as sh*t wasn’t going to listen to you tell me how I was supposed to handle it. Apparently my kids inherited some of that ingenious thought process. That karma is being paid back to me times five. WTF!

Getting out of the house was now a treat for these wonderful teens. Bickering between parents and siblings went from the normal daily occurrence to multiple times a day. Going to work quickly went from a dreaded thing on a coveted Friday night to an opportunity. Soon my children learned that they can even pick up extra shifts if they wanted. The younger three also caught on to this fascinating phenomenon and decided to get jobs themselves. After all, nearly finishing all six seasons of “Lost,” and watching all 21 of the Marvel movies, in chronological order, loses its appeal after being on quaranteen for a couple of weeks.

But wait. What about the friends? How do they hang out with friends? I’m glad you asked. Quaranteen is a lot like being grounded. Only far worse. No friends.

It didn’t take long for my children to start using their imaginations—the same imaginations we had been encouraging them to use for years—in order to hang out with friends. Hikes with friends soon became a form of hanging out and a way to get out of the house for hours but still keep to the social distancing rules.

To my horror, I soon discovered that my gas really wasn’t being siphoned by thieves, but rather “borrowed” by my offspring in the middle of the night. I guess somehow, one driving lesson from dad and years of playing Mario Cart makes picking up five friends and having free rein of the town sound doable. After all, I am sure in their minds there is no traffic to worry about when on quaranteen. I can even hear my kids quoting, Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man,” “I’m a good driver, a very good driver!” Friend problem solved! Only, what actually resulted was being grounded from phone and video games while on quaranteen…which also makes things harder for the parents.

In the land of quaranteen, there is no end in sight. Where before, when grounded, there was the promise of an all-important date when you get your cell phone back or the chance to hang out with your friends after school again.

So what to do. I don’t have all the answers. I think that as parents most of the time we use personal experience, bullsh*t our way through the rest using our best judgment, and some common sense.

To my teenagers, being stuck at home without an end in sight—and no school, athletics, or friends—is probably, at this point in time in their lives, the hardest thing they have ever done. I bet they think it is the hardest thing they ever will do. Their world might as well end.

One day, they will look back at this time hopefully with fond memories of the time they got to hang out with their entire family when the whole world slowed down. These years are supposed to be meant to explore, learn, and grow. It is when they are coming into their own as an adult. It’s meant to have adventure and experience new things. To figure out who they want to become. Not that they were “stuck” in the house with dad and mom.

So, I hope this teaches my children that they can do hard things, and be the better for it. That this will be a catalyst to many hard things they do and learn throughout their lives.

I hope that my kids will learn and embrace that choosing to do hard things and not always choosing the easy path can create joy and abundance in life.

I hope that they have learned the value of many things they have taken for granted. Little things like sitting at a restaurant or bigger things like the opportunity to get to go to school.

I hope this shows them that being involved in athletics is a privilege and something not to be taken for granted.

I hope they have learned what is important in life and what isn’t.

I hope that one day they will look back at this time and will be grateful for the lessons learned and not forget.

I hope they will have more of an appreciation for life.

I hope they see this one day as something that happened for them and not to them.

I hope new skills and positive attributes are learned.

I hope that this is a building block for my children in character, one that helps them in all areas of their life.

I hope that my children learn that they will be okay with nothing to do. That slowing down is a good thing.

I hope this shows my children the illusion of their fears and how to get strength and grow from them.

I hope this sh*t all ends soon!


Throwback to earlier days:

More Relephant Reads: 

How to Enjoy Life Amidst the Coronavirus Fear: Your Go-To Guide from Books to Podcasts & Wellness Practices.
What the Coronavirus is Teaching Me: 5 Lessons from Uncertain Times.
The Artist’s Stay-at-Home & Stay Sane Guide.
10 Simple Ways to Boost your Immunity without Leaving the House.


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