Quirky Quarantine Creativity
In which the Little Man and I attempt work-life balance (with hasty cellphone snapshots)
Originally posted on my LinkedIn page on April 13, 2020
It’s been a balancing act for weeks. Husband and Papa to Little Man is at work most days. If the weather is good, he’s out pruning trees (alone) or other such landscaping work that is deemed acceptable during these crazy COVID-19 quarantine days. If it’s not (oh hello there, April showers), he’s here but in the office figuring estimates, billing, or what-have-you.
That leaves Little Man and I at home. Self-quarantining all day, every day. All the while, I am itching for time. In particular, quiet time to concentrate, write, fill out applications, network (that’s you, LinkedIn connections!). Sure, some days I flip on PBS Kids, which he adores. Confession: I’m doing this more than usual lately, but I still try not to overuse it.
As he hurtles headlong and all-too-quickly toward age 4, this little body is all energy. He’s a force. Brimming with movement and ideas at all times. All hours. Just overflowing curiosity. I love it, and cannot wait to see how he grows. Meanwhile, he no longer needs a nap every day.
Heaven help me.
Behold a typical attempt on my part to check e-mail, write a cover letter, work on my resume, and/or write this article:
- I decide to try to work.
- Little Man and I discus and agree that he will [play with his Legos, color, dig in the sandbox, etc.] and mama will write.
- I grab my laptop. He’s headed to the sandbox.
- Little Man needs help and asks a question. Or several, one or more usually including “Why?”
- I sit down with the computer.
- Soon he needs a snack. Eh, so do I, now that I think about it.
- Happy bellies, we both have snacks. Watch out Muse, here I come . . .
- Nope, hold that thought, Muse. He’s thirsty.
- Back at the keyboard. It is with no small amount of despair that I lift my ever-faithful companion, the coffee mug, tip it up . . . up . . . and get one cold drop.
- And he asks, “Why?” So do I.
When I give up trying to do anything that requires concentration, one thing that (usually) works for both of us is baking and cooking. He likes to measure and mix with me or knead bread dough while I get some dinner prep done. Sometimes he pretends to make his own concoctions. Over the last 24 hours he’s been mixing up “Egg Juice,” a drink with a baffling (to adults, anyway), constantly morphing ingredients list. (Is it like an egg cream? No idea.) Other times he washes dishes. (Kind of. But still. Oh my heart, it’s rather wonderful.)
Pop-Tarts to the Rescue! For Now.
Today we make “Pop-Tarts,” strawberry refrigerator jam pocketed into flaky folds of leftover pie crust dough. And I roast the leftover strawberries with sugar and a little vanilla.
(Being of That Age, he is keenly interested the day we make them. Any effort to suggest he try them since is met with abject horror. How dare you, Mama?)
Enter the Ethereal: Moon Dough
But today’s pièce de résistance (so far—it’s only afternoon) is Moon Dough. The only ingredients are corn starch (1 cup) and conditioner (1/2 cup, and yes, the kind for hair). It comes together messily but easily, though I tweak the amount of starch until I liked the consistency. It’s cool, smooth, and glowing white. (You can add food coloring, according to the directions I found online.)
He’s quite intrigued. It’s a different consistency and texture than Play-Doh, and it smells like whatever was in that conditioner. He grabs some tools and molds he uses with clay other times and gets right to work. (I dare to sit down with my laptop during this opportunity.) He’s cutting and making shapes. Molding mounds. His imagination is focused. I can practically hear it fizzing and bubbling, all energy and creativity.
Ah, soon enough, it happens. The dough sticks to his hands a little after some use as their heat warms it, which requires a hand washing.
By the time he comes back, mere minutes later, he’s got plans. Big plans. “Mama, come see!” It is some other project entirely. And he has questions, too, Lots.