Just Hanging In

We made it through a week of working, parenting, and quarantining. The global pandemic is spreading wider and closer by the hours. A student who attended classes at George Mason University’s Arlington campus, which was where I worked up to last week, has tested positive for the Coronavirus. I did not interact with any student; therefore, I don’t think I am compromised.

Home is now the center of our lives. My bedroom has become a place for me to work and sleep. Yesterday, we interviewed two candidates for the digital marketing specialist position through Webex. The interviews went well and the kids didn’t interrupt me. We have four more candidates to go through. I was hoping to get someone with some HTML and CSS knowledge since the new person will be working closely with us, but the hiring committee had tossed out my technical questions. Other than the interviews, remote working was business as usual. I still had projects to work on and things to take off as we are still dealing with the pandemic.

Đạo and Đán are getting into their routines. I set up a laptop for each of them to do their school work online. Thanks to Đán’s teacher for sending us a dozen emails a day, we are keeping him busy. He set up a Google Classroom, assigned books on myON, and came up with quizzes for them to do. He always made sure to let us know that these activities were only optional. He also recommended “Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems” for the kids to draw.

Đạo’s teachers only sent one email and their guidance was loose; therefore, we gave him less instructions. I encourage him to read books and write journals. He could write anything he wanted. He can write about how he created his new LEGO tank. He can write about his day. I would love to read his feelings about his life as well as his parents. He can write honestly about us. I showed him my blog, in which I write about them and my own life.

Đán asked me if he could use curse words in his journals like I did in my blog. Of course he could if those words helped him express his feelings. The other day he whispered in my ears the words dick and bitch. I asked him where he learned them from. He hesitated to tell me at first, but I made sure that he won’t get in trouble if he told me. Of course, they came from his friends. Because he knew those two words, I had to explain to him how to use them and the consequences of using them. For example, bitch is a derogatory word for girl; therefore, he will get in trouble for using it in that context. Since I can’t control my kids from being exposed to new words, I hope I can guide them in using them appropriately.

Unfortunately, Xuân held on the the word stupid and wouldn’t let it go. He still used it when he was joking as well as when he was mad. He even got his three-year-old cousin started saying it. Listening to the two of them arguing was hilarious. When they ran out of words, they just blew spits (not spitting on) at each other.

Staying home with Xuân is a bit of a challenge. He is going through the rebellious stage. He is loud and expressive. We had to find activities for him to keep himself busy like painting and drawing. He liked to dance to Vietnamese pop tunes so that helped as well. If everything else failed, we used our last resort: the iPad.

Vương had been the most difficult because he constantly wanted his mom to breastfeed him. He also liked to go outside and enjoyed a bike ride. After work, I took them out for a bike ride around George Mason main campus and let them play outside for a bit. I filmed a short clip of them rolling among themselves off the hill and posted on Facebook. My mom called and advised me not to let them do that. They might catch the Coronavirus from the grass. OK, mom.

The hardest thing for me working from home was the food distraction. I kept checking the fridge compulsively like a crack fiend even though I knew everything in there was for my kids. Another string cheese? Why not. On the table next to the fridge, a bottle of vodka and a bottle of tequila stared at me, but no thanks. I had maxed out my limit, thanks to my wife’s delicious phở. I do not want another gout attack.

My wife had the hardest job so far between working, cooking, and feeding Vương. It is understandable that she could get a bit grumpy. Last night, Đán asked me, “How can you and mommy date each other when you don’t even love each other?” I asked him, “What made you say that?” He replied, “She keeps yelling at you.” I explained to him that this is a stressful time for us, and especially for her. Even though I tried to help out, it was not enough. I recognized My shortcomings. You can help us out by simply being a good son and brother. We will make it through this tough time together. Just hang in here, son.