“The coronavirus is spreading.” “A new lockdown is being issued all across Montgomery County.” “This will be gone soon; we just have to wait.” “Schools are closing for the rest of the school year.” “No one knows when this will be over.” The television flashed before us, as another report of the lockdown came, getting worse every time—every new lockdown, delay, closure just feeding the flames of uncertainty.
During this global pandemic, my family and I have really grown closer together and become a helpful part of the community. Throughout all the restrictions and lockdowns, we have been cramped together in one house, trying to manage our time while still doing fun things together. Though I’ve often just wanted to get away from them, I’ve formed tighter bonds with my family members.
We were all settling into the new norm of the pandemic—tired of having to deal with each other and ready for it to end. But it grew. Schools shut down. We had to deal with the struggles of virtual activities and learning, and find new games and activities to do at home. We did more puzzles and board games like Scrabble and Monopoly, but my brother didn’t like them and annoyed us the whole time. Whether it was karate or basketball, there were difficulties getting into Zoom classes and having it actually work. For example, I’d join a virtual karate class, but it would end up starting five minutes late since the instructor couldn’t get onto Zoom. Then I’d get kicked out too, and have to find my parents to get the code, but they wouldn’t know it. So we’d have to scramble to get back on only to find our microphone isn’t working. It was a real pain, but it was better than nothing.
For the first few days, we were sure it would end soon, as we were not happy about being stuck together. My brother was annoying and had too much energy to be locked indoors. My sister and I would argue with him over silly things like a toy or who gets to play with the puppy, and we’d end up annoying our parents. We just didn’t like each other that much and didn’t fit well together during a pandemic. Before we knew it, my brother, sister, mom, dad, and I were all trapped in the spiderweb of the lockdown.
My brother, who turned five last year, had a virtual birthday party. It was pretty clear he didn’t have as much fun. Then my sister and I both celebrated our birthdays virtually too. Before the pandemic, I had planned a video game party, but it ended up being a Zoom bingo. My aunt came to visit and stayed a few months more than expected. Even with all of this craziness, we still managed to have fun. We decided that we weren’t going to just sit around all day (even though that was what we did for the first couple weeks). I started playing with my siblings more often, and even made Zoom calls with my friends. Virtual activities weren’t that bad once I figured out the technical difficulties.
It was sometimes a pain being stuck together with my family, but being grumpy about it made it worse. I chatted with my parents about school every day, and we went on family walks a few times a week. I asked them about their days, and I got to know them so much better. I played with my brother and sister more after school. When we felt down, we knew to give each other space, and when we needed something to do, we knew to help each other get through the boredom of the pandemic. Slowly but steadily, we became a family for once. And it turns out being a “family person” is pretty fun.
During this time, I also became a more-involved member of the community. On our walks, we usually would go to the farmers’ market on Wednesdays. It had always been there, but we never really checked it out. The first time my dad and I visited, we were surprised. There were many stands with different foods. The sellers all knew the customers, and everyone talked about their days and what’s happening. We went there again and again, each time getting many things: apple cider, cookies, injera crisps, dog treats for our dog, and so much more. The sellers were all kind, and it was awesome to talk to someone outside of our house. We also went to a special bakery in the nearby shopping center, which we could get to via a trail, to buy desserts and other treats. We got to know the workers, and it felt good to support a local business.
Because of all these experiences I’ve had so far in the lockdown, I sure have changed. For one, I know the values of family. I am lucky to have a healthy and kind family, so I’m never bored or too upset about things. I never would have realized how fun it is to hang out with my family—even when we’re not stuck indoors—if the pandemic hadn’t happened. I am a family person now, and I’m happy about it. Furthermore, I started paying closer attention to the small businesses in my neighborhood. From the farmers’ market near my house to the biggest of businesses, they have all suffered economically. The lockdown is tough for everyone, but a small thing like helping out a local business makes a difference. It’s nice to get a smile everytime you go there and have someone to talk to. I’m no longer just a couch potato every day, ignoring family and staying inside, I’m a part of my family and my community.