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Social Distancing is not in my DNA

Katie Warren Whitlatch

Part of what drew me to apply to become the Assistant Director of the Children, Youth, and Family Division at the JCC was the fact that a large part of my job would involve talking to families, interacting with kids, and getting to act a little silly in front of children on a daily basis.  After being a stay at home mom for eight years, I was aching for that kind of regular and ongoing connection to the world.  Working at Clubhouse and at J&R Day Camp was a dream come true for me.

Enter 2020.  This nasty, “novel” virus is forcing us into the exact kind of isolation that makes me, well, itchy, is the only word I can use to describe the feeling.  Don’t get me wrong, I love wearing yoga pants every day and sleeping in a little longer than I would on a normal weekday (read:  as long as my own 10 and 5 year olds will allow).  But I am already craving movement, purpose, and most of all, connection.

So what am I doing to keep my kids (and myself) sane and connected?  Keep in mind, my kids are supposed to be on spring break for the next two weeks so academics are not a priority at the moment.

My 10-year old’s 4th grade class has started a “Google Meet” that will start at 10 am daily and run basically on and off until 4 pm.  As kids are available or craving connection to others, they can sign on for a bit and talk, show off some back-of-the-door basketball skills, or talk about any plans they have or what kinds of “evil” things their parents are forcing them to do.

My 5-year old is literally attached to my hip.  He is not used to long periods of time by himself and while he can play and entertain himself for a while, he’s his mother’s son and craves someone to talk to and connect with on a regular basis.  So we have dance parties.  We do Legos.  Sometimes we just cuddle and watch a movie.  He and I are trying to help each other through this uncharted territory.

As for me?  I am reaching out to friends via text and social media.  I am continuing to spend time planning for JCC Day Camps summer 2020 because that brings me a sense of calm, purpose, and most of all happiness.  I am cooking a lot because I cannot always do that when I am at work every day.   I am doing my best to cherish the concentrated time I get to spend with my kids (when I am not having to send them to their separate corners for fighting).

If distance truly “makes the heart grow fonder,” I am hopeful that this period of “social distancing” will result in the world actually coming closer together when we are safely permitted to do so.  Perhaps we will all be reminded of the importance of human connection and will value and cherish the moments we get to spend together.  Connections, Values, Growth, and Fun – never have these goals been more important than at this moment for our children and for ourselves.

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