I am writing this on Easter Sunday. I want to wish all my family and friends celebrating a Happy Easter. I know that we can’t do our normal celebrations, but I hope you can still find joy in the day. Today was hard for me because I got myself to announce that we are canceling (transforming) my son Max’s Bar Mitzvah. I think I have been in denial being hopeful that everything would work out and we would be able to have this special event in our family’s life. Today I took the final plunge and announced to all our guests that the Bar Mitzvah was not physically taking place. May 2nd is just around the corner and I don’t think our state is going to open back up by then. Even if it does open on May 1st, we aren’t comfortable having a big gathering and our guests wouldn’t be either.
I emailed everyone necessary at our synagogue first before I made the announcement. I also emailed our photographer, videographer, DJ and venue about the cancelation. Zoom will enable us to still share the service with all our loved ones. My tech savvy husband Seth will do a Zoom meeting with the Rabbi, Cantor and us, and will be able to send out the Zoom link and livestream it so that we can still feel surrounded by our loved ones. I want to thank everyone ahead of time who tunes in to the service on May 2nd for showing us your love and support. I can’t begin to express how much it will mean to us to still feel like you are present with us. It isn’t going to be the big day I envisioned. We are transforming the service and we are still able to have it. That is what is most important. This is a time for us needing to be flexible and try to go with the flow. My son Max is handling all these changes extremely well. I am very thankful for technology right now. It is making amazing things happen. We can still have the service and we are healthy. This is what matters most.
We were also able to have a transformed Passover with our family. We weren’t able to be in the same house, but we were still able to be together with our family. I sent our parents and our brothers a link for a Haggadah (Jewish text for a Passover Seder) and Seth sent them all a link to join us through Zoom. Seth’s parents and our brothers popped on and we waited for my parents. I face timed my parents to help them get on Zoom with us. It was hysterical and my mom and I laughed our way through the Passover Seder. Technology to the rescue once again. Through face time I was able to show my mom how to get onto the Zoom Seder. A Zoom lesson before the Seder probably would have been smart of me. Families everywhere had Zoom Seders with their families and friends. I hope there are a lot of Zoom Easters going on today.
School, theater, dance, soccer, girl scouts, Hebrew school are all closed and yet my calendar still has a bunch of stuff on it. Guess what? It is all my children’s Zoom meetings. Academy Theater Arts hasn’t missed a beat and continues to schedule classes on Zoom for Ella, making her so happy. Lillie has Zoom dance classes. All my children have Zoom Hebrew lessons and Max is continuing to do his Bar Mitzvah lessons. My children’s teachers are also setting up Zoom meetings with them. Zoom, zoom, and more zoom….I even got to have my book club on Zoom and I attended a middle school PTA meeting on Zoom. You get the drift. I want to say thank you for everyone for being so flexible and making this work and reaching out to my children. Talking to school teachers, theater teachers, Hebrew school teachers and dance teachers means so very much to my family. It is giving us a sense of normalcy.
Technology is helping us to stay connected. I hope you are face timing, calling, texting, emailing and Zooming your people. One of my greatest joys right now is listening to my 7 year old giggle on face time with her friends. I keep hearing their friends in my house. Ella and Lillie are face timing and Max is on his headset talking to whoever he is gaming with. There is always someone else in my house. A friend, a teacher, a family member…..Seth and I got home from our walk today and found Lillie talking on face time with a family member. Technology will get us through this. Nothing like having a fight with your husband while your daughter is having a voice lesson on Facetime. Like I said, someone is always in our house via technology! This is now “normal” to us.
Speaking of technology, a lot of my children’s work is online. My son asked me for help uploading his work and he never asks me for help. There is a lot of uploading going on. There is a lot of stuff online for my middle schoolers to keep track of. I can’t even tell you how many emails I get daily for my three children. Sometimes my head spins. I’m sure you can all relate to what I’m saying.
Lillie is supposed to be reading on Raz kids. It’s an adorable site and she reads a book and then answers the quiz. However, it took me three devices to get the site to actually work for her to do her schoolwork the other day. I tried my laptop, Seth’s laptop and then Seth’s iPad to try to get Raz kids to work. Thankfully the iPad decided that it liked Raz kids.
Then I was supposed to record her reading the book but the microphone on Raz kids wasn’t working. I recorded her on my phone and sent it to her teacher. I laugh my way through technology. My husband is a tech whiz. However, he is upstairs working and isn’t always available. “Come help me with this,” I will yell or text him. He can’t always help. We are thankful that he is busy and able to work right now.
IXL, Epic, google classroom, Raz Kids, uploading, Zoom….I have technology coming out of my ears. I am so very thankful for it when it decides to work.
I also had the bright idea to play board games with grandparents on face time. My children and Seth think I’m crazy. They all rolled their eyes at my board game idea and they all rolled their eyes at me wanting to do a Zoom Seder. I’ll let Seth tell you how he thinks the board games went!
My Aunt decides to host a virtual family reunion via zoom, because, “It will be great to see everyone.”
She hosts daily zoom meetings at her job as a manager of computer programmers, so a few dozen cousins, aunts, and uncles should be a piece of cake, right?
I’m the third one to arrive on zoom, and already there are 3 separate conversations, and background noise going on at the same time.
I thought she would know this, being a daily “zoomer” and all, but maybe computer programmers don’t talk as much, and are used to being on zoom calls every day.
I suggest that she mute everyone, and let us talk one at a time, or soon she will have dozens of separate conversations, and the zoom function that switches the main screen to whoever is speaking will go into anaphylactic shock.
She ignores me.
3 minutes later, we have dozens of family members on, who are all trying to talk to each other, and themselves, with background noise at the same time.
This goes on for a few minutes and would be hysterically funny if it weren’t so painful to watch.
Remember 30 years ago when your company got its first “conference room speakerphone,” and everyone was talking at once, and nobody knew who said what or who they were talking to?
That was easier than my extended family on Zoom.
After a few minutes, she finally realizes it, and decides to mute everyone, and then let one person (or family unit), give their update at a time.
Everyone’s update quickly falls into one of a few categories:
- We’re already retired, and we were already home, so the only thing that changed for us is that we can’t really leave the house much. We are cleaning a lot, binge watching tv, reading, or picking up hobbies we haven’t touched in a while.
- We are working from home WHILE the kids are home all day, and we are doing our best to adjust to working from home while being new “home-school administrators.”
That was pretty much it, except for my cousin who is a hospital nurse in NYC and is doing her best to help her patients through this crisis (pulling more hours than anyone should be asked to work), and is a true hero in my book.
My wife decides to be a wonderful daughter and offers to do a family board game of scrabble with us, my mother and her husband, and my mother in law, and our kids via Facetime. Rebecca wanted to call my dad too, but we quickly learned we need to play with one grandparent at a time.
Scrabble isn’t meant for that many people, so we split into teams, each set of adults is one team, and our 3 kids (who never are going to agree about anything) are another team.
I’m sure this will go smoothly.
Everyone has a board and a phone in front of them, draws letters, and we get started.
The kids make the first word. We then spend five minutes on facetime trying to get the sets of grandparents to make the exact same word in the same place on their boards at home, so that we are all playing the same game.
Plus, my mother is hard of hearing, and always seems to be “confused” a lot of the time, so that’s a GREAT combination.
It was the first word of the game, so you would think there couldn’t be THAT much confusion about where it goes……You would be wrong.
Finally, first word done!
After a few words, we get into a groove, and are making progress.
As long as you don’t count the fact that the kids fight over every word when it’s their turn.
Let me rephrase that. Max (being the oldest), comes up with a word. Then Lillie fights that she wanted to make a word. Ella mostly agrees with Max, but she does want a turn once in a while.
Every once in a while, Rebecca is too nice, and makes Max let Lillie make a word. Half of the time, she isn’t making an actual word, she is just combining letters in her hand in random ways., which is lots of fun, and frustrates Max and Ella.
Then Lillie figures out she needs to make a real word she can spell, and it gets more interesting. She has lots of ideas and knows lots of words.
However, she doesn’t realize that the point of Scrabble is those words have to be played ON THE BOARD, connected to other words, which means most of her word ideas won’t actually fit.
In her defense, she’s only 7.
Halfway through the game, my mother says her board doesn’t match ours.
It appears that she placed the VERY FIRST WORD OF THE GAME, which starts at the CENTER SQUARE, in the wrong spot – and her ENTIRE BOARD is off an entire row and she just now figured this out!
So now I have to show her every word on the board, and make sure they get moved to the right place. It’s a good thing I’m the one in charge of the score sheet.
Max, who didn’t want to play in the first place, is done, and storms off.
Grammy (my wife’s mother) takes a call from her other grandkids, and doesn’t come back, and doesn’t tell us she isn’t coming back. It’s a good thing we didn’t wait for her.
Lillie gets “board” and leaves (pun intended).
Ella happily, finally, makes a few words all by herself that work, but then runs out of good letters and leaves.
So, it’s me and Rebecca vs my mom and Joe.
It’s actually a pretty close game, until Rebecca finally gets a “U” to go with the “Q” she’s been hanging onto most of the game, and blows the board away with 2 words in a row that start with “Q” both of which hit double letter or triple word scores, and 20 minutes or so later when all the letters have been used, we win by about 40 points.
My wonderful wife is a glutton for punishment and volunteers THE VERY NEXT DAY to play Chutes and Ladders with my mother, and our girls. She thinks that it’s an easy game, that Lillie plays on a regular basis, there is NO SKILL or thinking involved, how hard can it be?
Ha, ha, ha (evil laugh and ominous music start to play).
Issue #1 – my mom’s phone isn’t charged, so we can’t do FaceTime.
I suggest Zoom instead.
My mother says she doesn’t know how to use zoom.
I explain she just used it for the virtual family reunion.
She remembers and agrees to try zoom.
I start a zoom meeting and email her the link.
She says the link doesn’t work.
I text her directions and the meeting code.
My wife says I better call my mother.
I call her. I tell her I texted her directions.
“To my email? Send it to Joe’s email.”
“No mom, I just texted you.”
“To my email?”
“No, to your phone. Hang up and go look.”
She does, and finally shows up on the zoom and is very excited she can see my daughters.
Except you may recall that my mother is hard of hearing and talking through zoom to two very loud little girls seems to make this worse.
So, she can’t hear anything I’m saying when I tell her where the pieces on the board are moving to.
So, I’m yelling so she can hear me.
I’m not very patient in situations like this (I know I need to work on it), so I get the bright idea to plug in headphones.
My mother can now hear me perfectly, and I can talk in a normal tone of voice.
Except now she can’t hear the girls, and they can’t hear her.
Rebecca has checked out by this point and is not paying attention to anything going on around her, except what’s on Facebook on her phone.
So, I take the headphones out, and leave the room.
I go into the kitchen and start doing dishes so Rebecca can’t be mad at me.
It works, until Rebecca realizes I’m gone, and yells something like, “You need to get in here, I don’t want to deal with this.”
I bang some dishes together, so I don’t hear her.
Now, you need to understand something about Lillie.
I am the one who plays board games with Lillie, about 85% of the time.
Max and Ella refuse to play with her for 2 reasons – 1) Lillie gets upset and cries if she isn’t winning a game, 2) Lillie cheats (or tries to cheat) at everything.
I know all of Lillie’s tricks, and she knows they don’t work on me, so when she plays with me, she knows to play by the rules.
So, when I leave the room, and Lillie sees mommy not paying attention, Lillie is like a shark who smells blood in the water, and it’s open season on my mother, who has NO IDEA what is about to happen.
Now you might be thinking, it’s Chutes & Ladders? It’s a game for three year old’s, and takes no skill, how on earth could you possibly cheat?
I’m so glad you asked.
It started with Lillie spinning the spinner. If she doesn’t spin a number she likes, she either spins again super fast in the hopes that no one notices, or she nudges the spinner until it moves to the number she wants.
My poor mother has no idea (she’s on Zoom remember), and Rebecca isn’t looking, so Lillie takes her cheating to the next level. As in, she totally disregards what number she gets on the spinner, and just moves her piece wherever the **** she feels like it. Once she went from space 6 to space 20 with no ladder landed on at all. She just moved 14 spaces because she wanted to.
Her whole 3 point cheating plan would work great, except she forgot the fact that Ella IS paying attention, and ACTUALLY PLAYING the game.
Ella catches her and moves Lillie’s piece back where it goes. This turns into a screaming tug of war between her and Lillie, and Lillie’s piece.
Lillie keeps cheating, Ella keeps catching her, and yelling at her, and the fighting keeps intensifying.
My mother has no idea why they are fighting and can’t exactly sort it out through Zoom.
You might ask, “But Seth, you were in the kitchen doing dishes, how do you know what is going on?”
I’m so glad you ask. I know because Ella is screaming so loud, I CAN’T NOT know what is going on.
The screaming has finally gotten through to Rebecca, and now she’s yelling at the girls to cut it out, but you can tell her heart really isn’t in the disciplinary attempt, and Lillie knows it, so she isn’t listening.
I give up, stop doing the dishes, and go back to the game.
I declare myself Lillie’s partner, and I will now be moving her piece for “US” each turn.
She pouts, and actually seems bummed out that she will now have to play fair and won’t get to fight with her sister anymore.
A game that should take 5-10 minutes, has easily taken over half an hour and I’m sure elevated all our blood pressure.
I can’t wait to see what we do tomorrow!
So, you can see that my experience with Zoom and Seth’s experience with Zoom is completely different. We did our first friend Zoom game night last night. I just giggle my way through the games and have a great time and Seth is actually trying to hear what everyone is saying. I almost peed my pants reading his take on playing Chutes and Ladders on Zoom with his mother.
All in all, we are so appreciative for Zoom and technology. Thank you, Zoom. Thank you, technology.
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of our Zoom Family.
Laughing, Loving, Learning,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R