Father-daughter time at unprecedented levels
Last updated 4/8/2020 at 4:35pm | View PDF
The role reversal that's taken place at my house over the last few weeks has left me a little unsettled. It's also brought me great joy.
As I head out for work each morning, I leave Dan and Ainsley at home. He has been grounded from traveling - something that typically occupies about 50 percent of his time - and she and students across the state have been banned from school.
They've set up their work stations at the dining room table, side by side so he can make sure she does not succumb to the temptations of the sand game she likes to play on her Chromebook. He takes phone calls and answers emails and she completes writing assignments and Khan academy lessons on fractions. She also spends time practicing violin and clarinet and ducking into the fort that has taken over much of the living room to do her silent reading.
I have done my best to stay out of it. I've been the primary monitor of and helper with assignments since Ainsley first started bringing it home. Half the time, Dan is on the road. When he's not, admissions like "I'm no good with fractions" and directions to "Ask your mother" effectively eliminate him from the equation.
So it was a leap of faith for me to agree to this plan, even though it makes the most sense for our family. I'm so glad I did.
These days - despite all the worries - have been filled with special times for the two of them. They walk the dog and play basketball at the neighbor's hoop in lieu of PE classes. Dan has been teaching her how to tie flies as her art class. Every day he's taking pictures of her in her spirit wear or on the basketball court to post and share with her teachers and friends at school.
They've found their rhythm.
I have to admit I'm just a tad jealous. I also know, if I'm really being honest, that if I were there every day, the dynamic would shift. I would try to convince her to watch online tours of the Musée d'Orsay and the Uffizi Gallery for art class and practice yoga for PE. Some of the magical moments the two of them are experiencing would be in jeopardy.
The time they're sharing together would not have been possible in any other circumstances. Sure, Dan has taken vacation days to stay home with Ainsley over winter and spring breaks. But that time usually has been bookended by travel.
"When are you leaving again?" - a question that's often on Ainsley's lips when Dan is home - hasn't been uttered for weeks. And it won't be for several more weeks, in all probability.
A circulating Facebook post foretells our kids' kids complaining that they're bored and want to go somewhere. And our kids will tell them about the time they couldn't leave their house for two months because of a pandemic.
"This is our kids' '2 mile walk in the snow uphill' moment," it reads.
I'm sure someday, when Ainsley's kids complain that they're bored and want to go somewhere, she'll tell them about the time she was stuck at home for two months. With her dad. And that she wouldn't trade that time with him for anything.
- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected]