Finding Humor During a Pandemic: Things I Never Thought Would Happen

Written by Janeen Lewis as published in Houston Family Magazine, photo by Houston Based Willow & Pine Photography

If I’d had my fortune read a few weeks ago and the clairvoyant teller revealed that I’d be quarantined at home with my family, I’d of said they were looney tunes and give me my money back, please. And yet here I am like the rest of the world, reeling at a huge curveball thrown by a virus. I keep hearing the words “new normal,” but here are some things that make it feel like Bizzare¬†World to me:

An obsession with toilet paper.

Really? Who knew that in a pandemic that revolves around, no, NOT dysentery, that toilet paper would be all the rage? I never thought people would be bidding madly for Charmin on eBay. And the thing I never knew I always needed — a toilet paper calculator online (again, one short month ago, who’d have thInk?) I merely punch in the number of times my family goes #1 and # 2 (this makes for an interesting and fun household survey!) and the number of squares used, and voila!, it calculates that our 7 rolls will last nine days, and that’s if we don’t eat tacos. We’re doomed.

Nail and spa places should be considered “essential” businesses.

I haven’t had my upper lip waxed in weeks, and my 13-year-old son, Andrew is going through puberty, so we are both sprouting mustaches simultaneously. Hey, we’re in this together!

I’ve caught up on all my sleep.

All of it. The years of cramming at college all night. The years of feeding my children when they were newborns all night. The too many years I binge-streamed Grey’s Anatomy all night (and I thought I’d never get that decade back!). The only time I’ve interrupted this new 14-hours-of-sleep a night schedule has been those early morning wakeups to, quite unsuccessfully I might add, beat the run on the restocking of the toilet paper at the grocery.

I’ve done a 360 on-screen time.

In true Freaky Friday/Twilight Zone fashion, I’ve become the Rosanne Barr of electronics. Three weeks ago, I’d have set limits on my kids' screen time. Now, to keep myself sane, I find myself bellowing, “Just watch your tablet!”

The number of times I’d hear “new normal” or “unprecedented.”

At least this could turn into some fun “real world” math for parents plunged into homeschooling. Hey, how ‘bout we all assign our kids to tally the times they hear these words? Then they can make graphs and charts depicting those numbers. That will keep them busy! And if that doesn’t work, there are always word problems that revolve around toilet paper consumption.

I never knew social distancing would bring people closer together.

In all seriousness, if I’d known before all this that we’d be stuck at home, I’d have thought we’d get lonely. And yet, all around me, I see friends and families coming up with creative ways to be together in spirit (and Skype) if they can’t see each other face-to-face. If staying at home with my husband and kids will save lives, so be it. The sense of staying at home together to flatten the curve of this curveball is inspiring, and we will get through it.
Still, I’d feel better if I had a few more rolls of toilet paper while we’re doing it.

Janeen Lewis is a teacher, freelance writer, and mom. She finds that having a sense of humor helps during hard times.

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