So this is what we’re doing now.

Poker.

Right now, I’m sitting in my spot – this one remaining piece from a sectional where every other part of the couch has been destroyed to the point where we threw them out. So I sit in this one section, the corner piece, that I’ve crammed in between a hand-me-down couch and a futon that I have unfolded and spread a sleeping bag on it for the coolness.

And I’m sitting here, watching Marc teach the kids poker. Only the way he teaches them poker is by swearing a lot and sharing drinking and gambling storiesi from his past. Julie appears to be some sort of poker savant, because she’s an accomplished bluffer, and for the second time, the whole table erupted into swearing and yelling as the tiniest member of the game kicked everyone’s ass. Again.

There is an alarming amount of profanity.

We found out today that Sam is allergic to everything. Grasses, weeds, ragweed, oak trees, cats, dogs, dust mites. For the past 14 years, I’ve been nagging him to go outside and play, and he’s desperately allergic to all of it. We bought an air purifier, an allergenic mattress and pillow case cover. I’m more than halfway convinced that his abdominal issues are caused by constant and unending allergies, and am now not sure if we should see an allergist, go back to his gastroenterologist or just call his pediatrician and throw myself at her, begging for guidance.

I also have to take Jessie into the doctor’s office tomorrow, because I think she’s developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Four months of remote learning, summer work for four AP’s and an upcoming fellowship at the Federal Courthouse is not a good combination for my girl.

Julie is drifting through the longest summer vacation ever. I’m the most concerned about her for the upcoming year. Lilli is moving to Boston and Emerson will be mostly back to normal. Sarah’s college hasn’t made any final decisions yet, but she’s resigned herself to potentially having the fall semester at home. Jessie is going into her senior year, and honestly, she likes working from home just as well. Sam is going to continue with TECCA, and while there will definitely be some changes, we have to get his IEP up and running and he’s going to be in charge of his education. At least a little bit.

But Julie – oh, I worry about Julie. Will schools reopen? Will they be safe enough for her to go? Her fifth grade year is entirely up in the air. I could pull her out and homeschool her. So we wait, hoping against hope that the school department (which failed so badly at trying to come up with something for March-June) will magically come up with the perfect compromise between being in the classroom and being safe.

All told, it’ll be close to four months that we have been doing this. Quarantine, social distancing, covid-19-ing. Marc’s scheduled to go back to work on July 7, and we started this on March 13. That’s a long time to be basically at home, 24/7, all five of us.

The nice thing was that it was (and is, because we’ve got a few weeks to go) just… nice. Everyone basically likes each other, Jessie and Julie didn’t kill each other, I didn’t lose my mind listening to them battle and brawl. Sam finished up a normal school year, Julie started unschooling in March, and Jessie embarked on nearly independent study course of her junior year. Marc taught himself Hebrew, designed and ran two different dungeons and dragons groups, and lost a bunch of weight because he’s walking nearly 24 miles a week.

I crocheted a blanket and a half. I mean, I’m sure I accomplished other tasks – but mainly, I tried to keep the girls from killing each other, tried to keep the house clean, and crocheted. I read a lot.

Jessie starts her fellowship in a few weeks (the same week Marc starts back to work), and after that, things are going to kick in high gear. I’ll have both of them out of the house (if Jessie isn’t in Boston, I’ll ship her to my mother’s for quiet), and just my two little ones. And of those two little ones – ONE IS GOING TO BE 14.

I’m going to stop there, because the idea of Sammy being 14 is a lot to process.

Two and a half months into quarantine, self isolating and social distancing. The end is in sight, at least for this first part. Marc is going back to work at some point – he’s been in contact with his boss, and they’re hoping to start back up in two weeks. Not sure if that means Marc will be back to work in two weeks, but at least it’s a sign that hopefully by the end of the summer, he should be back to something resembling normalacy. No idea what normalacy is going to look like in the age of covid-19, and I’m still pretty sure that we’re going to have a rough fall…

Jessie got the Nelson Fellowship, and there’s talk of it actually taking place, partially, maybe, in Boston as opposed to on her computer. She wants to ride the train in, and I’m terrified of it. Marc’s more concerned about her being in the courthouse, and less worried about the train – so we’ll discuss and debate and come to a decision together. At 17, she’s certainly old enough to be a huge part of this discussion – and reality is that I know she’s capable of doing everything right and taking all the precautions. But you can do everything right, take all the precautions and still get sick.

We’re spinning from covid-19 into protests and the news coverage I listen to in the mornings has shifted from reporting deaths from coronavirus to riots and police brutality. I can’t keep up with it – and I certainly can’t figure out how to explain it to my kids. Julie just wants to go back to school and Sam was already pretty sure that the world is dangerous and scary and he’s better off at home. Everything that’s happened in the past two and a half months has served only to reinforce that.

We’re in this odd holding pattern, on the cusp of everything. Buying a house, sending Jessie off to college, starting Sam’s orientation and mobility and more independence in terms of education. Julie’s starting fifth grade, which I’m refusing to think about because it’s not possible that my baby is going into fifth grade.

But everything feels tentative and like we’re waiting.