It’s been a tough month or two here. It’s January in Jersey, which means grey days and below freezing temps. It’s been impossible to do the outdoor socializing with family and friends that kept us afloat perviously during this COVID shutdown. With Ian transitioning from high school, I have sat through hours and hours of profoundly awful meetings with school administrators and private evaluators; it’s actually too horrible to blog about.
The boys have had virtual school for most of the year. Jonah hasn’t stepped foot in a lecture hall since early March 2020 and may not even next fall. Ian has been in and out of school this whole time. Right now, he’s going five mornings per week, but we have no assurances that this will continue. Even when he’s in school, he is often the only one in the classroom, since so many kids have given up.
When Ian’s not at school, then he’s home alone. He has no friends to hang out with at the park. Before COVID, we kept him busy by carting him around with us to various parties and socials events, or by driving him to a handful of private and community activities. None of that is happening right now.
All that just sucks, and the news keeps getting worse. It is tempting to snuggle under the blankets and anesthetize myself with romance novels and chocolate. But that is not helpful. We’re determined to survive the collapse of government with our marbles intact and with as little damage as possible to our children’s well-being.
We’ve been combatting isolation, depression, and boredom in various ways all year. I’ve cooked a ton, redecorated my house, learned about detoxifying smoothies. Lately, we have also carved out one weekend day for a hiking adventure. We travel to a new town within an hour of our house that has cute cafes and hiking trails.
Last week, we visited New Paltz, New York. New Paltz is an 80s-era hippie town with hockey sacks and the smell of weed in the air. We went to a local pub that has a nice mix of the hippie regulars, the hunting and fishing guys in plaid shirts, and college professors who all look Bernie Sanders. About 200 yards away, there’s a rail trail. Fueled with two glasses of wine, we did a two-hour hike that took us past old homes built by the French Huguenots with little rifle holes to shoot Indians during King Phillip’s War.
Yes, part of our weekend adventures involves indoor dining. While indoor dining is legal, but it is certainly a grey area for COVID safety. This once-per-week treat is a risk that we’re willing to take in exchange for mental health. Not everyone takes those risks, but they take other risks by allowing their kids visit friends and play sports. My kid doesn’t have those options, so we’re taking our risks at bars. Shrug.
Once the weather warms up around here in a couple of months or so, we won’t have to work so hard to have fun. But right now, it takes a little creativity and organization.