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Day sixteen of the quarantine: an experience

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I opened one eye, just a little, in order not to give myself away. My oldest was standing there waiting for me to respond. I couldn’t fool him, he was on to me immediately. The little man wanted to go see the tomatoes, see how much they had grown since last night. He loves taking the spray bottle and soaking our floors, curtains, spare toilet paper and anything else but the actual little plants growing in the spare room. After he gets bored I have to take over the responsibility and ensure proper hydration to avoid a famine this summer. Fresh fruits and vegetables are getting harder to come by and prices are going up, our priceless journalists are writing in the news. Apparently all the migrant workers, who actually make our standard of living possible, have hoofed it home; not only in the Czech Republic, but globally.

But my son is not aware of migrant workers or the coming apocalypse, he is genuinely interested in watching the plants grow. As we water a little and I explain to him that they have had enough water, it is time to feed him as well. We do breakfast and coffee and prepare for the day.

I take my coffee and head into my new office. The neighbors across the way have already managed to move out onto the balcony and start smoking. I reminisce spending time with my one friend in Prague I smoke with. The fresh outside air combined with the sweet feeling of the nicotine hit. When you smoke once a month, you can actually feel the nicotine every time. I daydreamed away: out on the terrace, hidden from all, lighting up a cig. Deep inhale, slow exhale. It’s actually illegal now to smoke outside since it is not listed as a reason one can remove his/her face covering.

A quick pull of the arm jerked me out of my dream. My oldest was in my office, pulling on my arm and asking to check on the tomatoes. I tried negotiated with him but he seems to be much better at negotiating than I. He refused, simply repeating “check tomatoes, water.” I distracted him by saying he should go run around with his other siblings, which he agreed to on the grounds that I join in. I figured a morning jog is a healthy start to any day. So off we went.

We all ran around, in circles, through the living room and kitchen. I jumped onto the couch to avoid being tagged and ran into the closet and hid. After being discovered I quickly distracted the antagonist, to buy an extra second, and made a mad dash towards the other siblings – trying to get them tagged. It was all in vain. It is always three-on-one and it is always I who becomes “it.” I don’t remember it being so exhausting when I was a kid, but it sucks the energy right out of me. I eventually fall down and just say I can’t anymore, then I get jumped on by all three fellas. I never stand a chance. I feel the physical challenge will only become more difficult in time.

I hit up another coffee and returned to my office. 11:30! It’s almost time for lunch! I looked at my e-mails and wrote a few people. I was ten minutes in and the oldest again came in and gave me his frown face. “I’m hungry and want papa.” Now that sounds sweet to an innocent bystander, but I know I am doomed. I can never get out of those, the kids are just trained too well. How can one say no? Sales aren’t exactly coming together how I had hoped, so what the hell, off to the kitchen.

Mom was elbow deep cooking a bunch of goodies, which was encouraging. We had our choice of freshly baked bread rolls, some kind of lentil burger, homemade salted cabbage, and coconut cookies. We all grabbed what we could and had a grand old lunch!

Naturally time passed quickly and by the time I made it back to the office it was 13:00. I am starting to figure out why offices were invented. It is impossible to get any work done when left alone with your entire family to distract you!

Again, I tried to get down to business. I started drafting an email and suddenly heard the door open. I felt the blood run into my cheeks as I started getting frustrated with the situation. I looked over and was about to tell off my younger boy when I noticed he was already frowning. I looked at him and it was clear: he had urinated himself. As tears rolled down his cheeks I grabbed him and said it as okay but recommend he pee in the little toilet. He agreed but the damage was already done. I looked down the hallways searching for the puddle, there was none. I removed his clothes and we searched together, none could be found. I went into the kids room and looked over the floor, nothing. I leaned over the drawing table and thought about where it could be. It was at that instant that I felt the wetness on my hand. My son didn’t warn me but looked like he was sorry. I was wondering the case for his defense. How can you consciously climb up onto the drawing table and urinate yourself and the table, rather than use the little baby pan? To be honest he would have had a nicer view from up there.

Another cleanup, another hour and back to the office. I almost forgot my 15:00 conference call. The jokes were back but instead of the virus we have moved onto the situational analysis: we are living in socialist Czechoslovakia. The borders are closed, we need permission to leave the house, and the government plans on paying people for doing nothing. I interrupted saying that we are on a conference call and are viewing documents over a cloud based platform. Nobody laughed.

As I started talking about my issues on the call, my oldest busted into the room and started his “check tomatoes, water” request. I hit the mute button, but it was too late. Everyone burst into laughter. I pushed my son out of the room and closed the door. When I rejoined the call I apologized and someone asked “so what kind of “tomatoes” are you growing?”

Paul Lysek – The idea of writing a daily update came to me by seeing, hearing and trying to understand all the things that are happening around us at this time. This story is a combination of all those sources, including friends, relatives, and experiences with attempts to bring out the satire, emotion and changing environment of the situation. It is entirely fictional, with the exception of my sarcasm.

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