July 18, 2020

A Better Day

Last night my 10yo son had a breakdown because my husband shut off the computer and told him to do something else because he got mouthy about helping put the food away after dinner. He came upstairs bawling about everyone hating him and then said he thought I was being a bad mom because I said he was weird (it's not actually what I said).

I didn't know how to help him because his life sucks right now. He's barely left the house in four months and hasn't seen his friend at all. He can't go outside to play despite it being the middle of summer. All he has is the computer where he watches YouTube videos and plays Roblox all day. He's very lonely and obviously depressed now. I know a lot of kids are going through the same thing with the pandemic limiting their social lives, but it hurt so much to see my baby suffering.

Nothing I suggested could help him because there isn't much else to do. He has some Legos and cars but my husband sleeps on the couch in the living room and goes to bed by 8pm most night so the 10yo has to be very quiet at night. His room is the garage, but he's afraid to be out there alone and his older brother moved out when school shut down in March (he's 18).

And I just don't have the energy to do stuff with him. That's what hurts the most. His older siblings are all teens/adults now. They don't want to play with him and when they are around, all they do is rag on him over everything until he cries (mostly because he doesn't help enough with chores in their opinion).

I went to bed so depressed last night thinking about how sad he was and vowed to try to do something with him today. I can never make promises to the kids because I never know how I'll feel. If I tell them we'll go for a walk in the morning then wake up with a headache and feeling so fatigued, I can barely stumble to the bathroom and back to bed, then they're just disappointed and I feel like crap.

Anyway, I felt sort of okay when I got up this morning. My head hurt, but I wasn't so fatigued, I couldn't think straight. It helped that when I got out of the bathroom, I found a cup of hot coffee waiting for me. When my husband came back up to see if I wanted more around 11:30, I told him to tell Jack that if he cleaned the dining room table and set up a board game, I'd play with him.

Me and the kids used to play a lot of board games. I looked forward to them being home on winter and spring breaks with nothing else to do. But then they got older and had better things to do so Jack became my gaming partner. But even then, he had other interests so getting him to play wasn't easy (plus he was little so it limited the games he could understand). And then the chronic fatigue set in. We haven't really played any games in years. I buy new ones almost every Christmas and there are literally at least ten games we've never played. I thought when the school shut down and the family was in literal lockdown, we'd spend all the time playing games since we'd have nothing else to do, but I was so freaking tired all of the time.

Not just physically tired, but mentally--the the point that I wouldn't be able to make sense of the games if I tried to play. My thinking and actions are so sluggish and difficult when I'm exhausted like that. It wouldn't be fun for anyone. I also can't deal with the kids "banter" which is a lot of them roasting each other and just being obnoxious. My husband encourages this annoying behavior and is worse than all of them combined. It always ends in people being hurt and arguing with each other (family dinners are the same which is why we don't have them).

Today, I felt I could handle one or two games with Jack if he set them up. I guess this was an exciting prospect because when I went downstairs around noon, he had several picked out and one of our favorites--Mochi Koro--was set up. I can't remember the last time we played it. Jack's the only one that really likes it anymore.

He won, despite me getting a pretty good lead on him while he was screwing around with his strategy. While we were playing Mochi Koro, the 14yo came down to play Sims on the computer. But then she agreed to play Clue with us since you need three people (it's what Jack originally wanted to play). We played two games of that. Then Jack and I played this rocket game I got him for Christmas a couple years ago when he was obsessed with space. He was mad, though, because his sister refused to play, too.

So I dug out one of the card games I know they both like that we got for Christmas maybe three years ago called Loonecy. We played quite a few hands of that then out came the UNO cards. We are an UNO family. The set of cards I have are very dear to me and almost as old as I am. I'm not sure when my parents bought them, but I've been playing with them since as far back as I can remember playing UNO (at least six-years-old). I'm guessing they had the cards before that. They're very worn, some corners are broken off, two cards have been replaced with similar ones that have the same backs but different face designs, but I don't care. They are one of my treasured possessions, and I joke if there was a fire, I'd save the UNO cards first (I wouldn't, but I'd be devestated to lose them). We also have UNO scorecards copyrighted in 1978 if that says anything. I wouldn't be surprised if my parents but the deck and the score cards at the same time in the late 70s/early 80s.

Anyway, we played a couple rounds of UNO with our house rules (that have been the rules since I was a kid) which means hands can last forever (draw until you can play a card!). But then the kids started fighting about something so I quit. It was after 5pm at that point so I'd been up and doing stuff for at least 5 hours with them.

I was definitely feeling it. I had also eaten some supper which just makes me tired anyway. Jack seemed satisfied that he got to spend some time with me and do something different. He went back to his Roblox game on the computer, excited to see there was an update to one of the games on it he likes to play.

If I feel okay tomorrow, I'm hoping to get more board games in, but I also wanted to take him for a picnic. Just the two of us. I thought we could walk up the (very steep) hill to this little green space. We could make sandwiches, and I'd bring my knitting, and he could bring one of the books he got for his birthday and read it to me (he won't read unless someone is listening to him).

That's a much bigger endeavor than board games, though. Risky. The park is two blocks up the hill which really is steep. I can make it okay if I walk really slow. There's always a chance other people will be up there, though, and I know he won't read out loud if other people are around.

I'm just having a hard time figuring out what to do with him. All the things I would normally suggest are off limits because of the pandemic. I can't just send him outside to play with friends. We can't go to the parks because the playgrounds are closed (or the parks are packed with people who are ignoring all safety measures). I don't have the energy to do long walks. There's this cool creek at the bottom of this ravine with access from the block behind us, but it's a super steep climb. I've only gone down there once and thought I was going to die climbing back up. It's super pretty, though and could be a fun adventure. If I could do it.

I just hope I feel well enough in the morning or Jack will be disappointed that I can't play any more games with him.

Written by justanotherjen

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