How's it going? For us, not well. Janey is very, very unhappy without school.
We've wondered, during the last 2 or 3 great years, with this year up until the pandemic hit being the best of all, what was contributing the most to Janey's vastly happier mood. Was it just her maturing? Was it something we were doing differently at home? Had she been in pain somehow, and now wasn't? Or was it school, school she loved? I'm sure it was some of all of those, but I think these weeks have shown the biggest part of it was school.
For Janey, being social and connecting to people has always been one of her strengths. This is especially the case with adults. She forms strong connections to the people in her life. She has special rituals and routines with each person she is close with, ones that are very different for each person but that she never forgets. She lets people know strongly how important they are to her. Being suddenly removed for all the people at school she grew so quickly to love very much is tearing her apart. It's not that she doesn't love us at home, but honestly---what 15 year old would want to spend all their time at home with their parents? Not Janey.
We're seeing behaviors we haven't seen in a long time. Janey is biting her arm all the time, something that never has quite gone away but for years has been more like a gesture than an actual bite. Now it's a bite again. She is screaming, a lot, the very loud and anguished scream we knew so well but had heard so much less of lately. She isn't sleeping. Last night she slept almost not at all, she didn't nap today, and at 10:30 at night she's still awake. Her OCD has kicked into high gear. She's obsessed with the pillows on her bed---rearranging them, asking for them and then throwing them, wanting us to lie down with her but then insisting we not have a pillow. She tries to push her brother William out of the room every time she sees him---not that she doesn't like him, but he has become somehow something that needs to arranged also. She is falling apart in a lot of ways.
And of course, it's nobody's fault. There is nothing that can be done. The schools are doing what they can remotely, friends have asked if there is anything they can do to help, we would buy or get anything that would make this easier for her, if there were anything. There isn't. We can't recreate school for her---the dance classes, the long bus rides, the morning meetings, the wonderful people who work with her, sing with her, have fun with her.
There are resources being put out there for all the homebound kids all the time, but as is so often the case, they mostly don't work for someone like Janey. She doesn't do academic work. Online learning is not something she can access in any real way. She has always rejected any time of virtual visual contact---I've tried any time I've been away for a day or two to Facetime her, and she hated it. We try to follow a routine, but we run out of things to fill the routine with fast. A big part of her routine at home has always involved things like going to the grocery store, or visiting her uncle in the nursing home near us, or going to the "ice cream store", the nearby 7-11, or other little local trips. We can't do those safely or at all. For a while, I was taking Janey with me each day for a walk to the post office. But she compulsively touches everything---the walls, the lampposts, parked cars---and without literally holding down her hands, she's going to touch her face. So we do car rides to nowhere or stay home.
We will get through this, of course. School will start again in time. But what scares me is how easily all Janey's progress can dissolve. I worry about when she turns 22, and is no longer in school. I worry about budget cuts or administrative decisions that might change her school experience. I worry the black hole of worries the most---about us as parents not being here on earth to care for her.
And due to some awful articles I saw and had to stop myself from reading, I worry about how society makes judgements when there are limited resources to keep people literally alive. I worry about medical care that might not be equally available to all. I worry about all people that are seen as less than. I think of all the children like Janey I know through this blog, around the world, and I worry so much. I hope you are all healthy, most of all, and finding ways to get through this. Love to all of you.