How the coronavirus pandemic brought one big family together
They feed the little ones early. And when they're in bed, the adults sit down to dinner.
"A vacation that never ends," said Bruce, "and I'm getting blamed for spoiling the boys. Imagine that."
Cheryl's sanctuary is a closet. Bruce takes off for two or three hours each day to his empty office, where he runs a payroll outsourcing company.
"We're not complaining," Bruce said. "It's different than it was. But when it was quiet -- what, just a few weeks ago? -- I was saying that I didn't like the quiet in the house. And now? It's not quiet."
Many of us are too quiet, isolated in our homes, keeping distance, even from family. It's the quiet that hurts.
Betty and I live in our quaint Hobbit hole near the picturesque windmill with Zeus the Wonder Dog. Our two sons have their own apartment. My mom is now in a nursing home. My brothers and their families are in their own homes. We all meet by Zoom.
But a screen isn't the same as being in the same house, together, hugging each other, squabbling with one another. On screen we're quite polite and take turns. It's formal and therefore unnatural.
The Leons need not worry about the icy formality of Zoom. They aren't isolated. They're together, all crammed in the same house.
There are many other stories out there that might seem more important. But this is most important to me.
"Someday the house will be quiet, they'll be gone, I know what I'll miss," said Bruce. "I'll miss the boys rushing in the morning, jumping on our bed saying, 'Wake up! Wake up!' "
"This is what was intended," said Cheryl. "Nothing gives me more joy than when I lock the door at night and everyone I love is safe and everybody's home."
That's family. That's all there is, really.
(John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and his Twitter handle is @john_kass.)