Br(u)no: Being Inside Brings Out Big Thoughts, Week 4

The COVID-19 quarantine period has reached Easter Weekend. Hope you are able to find peace of mind, or at least a piece of beránek, a lamb-shaped cake, to eat. Photo Credit: Gabriela Zalubil Reichlova.

Perhaps it is the fact that Easter is coming, but this week has brought on many big, and sometimes, dark thoughts. Nothing in my personal history gives me the perspective to understand this weekslong self-quarantine against the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. How long will be inside? Will there always be enough food? How will social interaction change in the future?

And, the harder questions: What if, God forbid, my wife or I or both succumb to COVID-19? What would happen to the kids?

This is where religion comes in. I would not consider myself to be religious, but I appreciate the role that religion plays. It adds meaning and ceremony for symbolic events, like weddings, baptisms and funerals, and, for some, it is the framework to understand what has become of the world.

Saturday, April 4 — Day 22

The kids got a small kitchen play set. It has an oven, a sink, a small refrigerator and a microwave. Putting it together made it feel like Christmas morning.

The kids are in a terribly annoying phase. The boy is constantly roaring like a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The girl screams like a teenager in a horror movie. At least they have made some decent (pretend) meals and even washed the (pretend) dishes.

Sunday, April 5 — Day 23

I spoke with one of my best friends from high school. We grew apart and traveled the world in different ways an it had been decades since we last spoke. Yet, something about being stuck inside your home, one in Brno and the other in the middle of the United States, makes you think of the good old times and want to reach out.

Monday, April 6 — Day 24

Life is still moving forward. Buses and cars pass in front of the house at regular intervals. Trains keep passing on the raised tracks behind our house. All of them are mostly empty. The kids announce the directions: “Leaving Brno” or “Going to Brno”.

How many children will be born in nine months? Will there be a baby boom this winter? It would be terrible for an expectant father to not be able to attend to their wives at the hospital during the birth.

Tuesday, April 7 — Day 25

Here is a conversion that I had with my son:

Me: I’m making lunch.

Son: I don’t want nothing.

Me: That’s a double negative. We don’t use two negatives in English.

Son: I don’t want any.

Yes, I am a jerk for correcting the grammar of my 3-and-a-half-year-old son. But kids have such a sponge-brains that they can quickly find an alternative. Many parents who read an English-language online newspaper in Brno, Czech Republic are raising their kids to be bilingual. Being strict to make them use both languages has paid off for us.

Wednesday, April 8 — Day 26

In the past, my Jewish friends in Seattle and New York used my mother’s Czech potato pancake recipe for their Passover seder dinners. This year, with my immediate family locked inside, we decided to have a seder meal ourselves. We started with the bitterness of pickles to represent the exodus from Egypt, and improvised further for each additional portion of the meal. Observing Passover feels about right: we are not exactly slaves during this global pandemic but we are not free yet.

The wifi internet connection on my computer went down. I felt abject terror for a couple of hours as I tried to reestablish the connection. It felt like a miracle when it finally connected.

Thursday, April 9 — Day 27

Lunch was Jewish: matzo ball soup. Dinner was Catholic: spinach pasta for Green Thursday.

This day, for so many years, has been one of the best nights in Brno because of the green beer and the post-winter social awakening. With the weather so nice this year, it would have been a great party tonight as well. Oh well.

The kids have watched večerníček and Paw Patrol on most nights. They get some “Land Before Time”, an animated series about dinosaurs, on YouTube when they are supposed to calming down for afternoon naps. That had been it for screen time. Tonight we watched our first movie of the self-quarantine: Brave. It is a Disney-princess movie and it resulted in a roller-coaster of emotions. Both the girl and the boy stood up to shout instructions during exciting early scenes. But, later, the boy was scared and pulled me into the bedroom to read to him a book. Moments later, the girl burst in with tears in her eyes and bawling about the climactic tension. Eventually, we were all able to be brave and watch all the way to the happy ending.

Mom, who was getting some alone time, had no idea about the movie’s ups and downs. When she came upstairs, the girl hugged her tightly and promised, through tears, never to — Spoiler Alert! — turn her into a bear to avoid getting married. (Sorry, if I was too late with the warning.)

Friday, April 10 — Day 28

Apparently the screen-time dam has burst. The first kid movie of the self-quarantine period was Thursday and now, this morning, we had the first usage of the tabloid computer for the Peppa Pig painting app. Clearly, we are running out of ideas. (And kids will never touch my so-important computer for typing practice again.)

We started the morning with a beránek, a Lamb-shaped cake that is a traditional Easter pastry.

We have some nice Easter-themed plans for this weekend. The boy and I are making plans for velikonoční pondělí. According to local tradition, on Monday, boys and men are supposed freshen up the women in their lives with the tap of a pomlázka, a braid or willow branches. This coronavirus experience will change a lot of things. I think this old pagan tradition will be one of them.

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Are you turning inside while you are dealing with this coronavirus pandemic? Do you find solace in religion? Do you have any special plans for this long Easter weekend?

Please share your ideas for coping with the ongoing repercussions of COVID-19 in the comments below or on Facebook.

Be safe. Be well.

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