Two months ago I expected the month of May to be full of late nights studying for AP tests and weekends spent procrastinating on summer job applications. However, those late nights have turned out to be filled with ultra-competitive games of “Super Smash Bros” and “Halo” with my brothers.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, my brothers were forced to travel home from college and we all had to make the transition to online learning. Subsequently, my family is in contact with each other a lot more than we’re used to and the shelter in place only increased the amount of time we spend together. Initially, I wasn’t excited at the prospect of sharing a bathroom with my brothers or about the arguments that I thought would ensue. Though it’s not always easy, I‘ve come to realize that I should put more of an effort into building relationships that will remain strong throughout adulthood.
I, and many other students, tend to put up a new front when we get home. Whether it’s a toned-down or more energetic version of ourselves, we don’t act the same way around our family as we do around our friends.
When I really think about it, I only have so much time with them [my family].
Through Jackbox games like “Drawful” and “Fakin’ It,” my family and I have been getting to know each other on a more personal level. Drawful is essentially “Pictionary”, but with witty captions and some guessing involved. Similar to games like “Mafia” and “The Resistance,” “Fakin’ It” relies on deception and familiarity of your opponents — attributes that make a friendly, but competitive game.
As we sketch extremely ugly drawings and write even stupider captions, laughter cuts through the room when we see the atrocities that we’ve created. When I put up one finger to indicate how many years I think The Civil War lasted my brothers burst out laughing, calling me an idiot.
Through Palo Alto’s high-pressure culture, students are programmed to focus on attaining a high level of academic and athletic success so that we can go to a prestigious college. At this time — without the pandemic — I would be too caught up in school and extracurriculars to spend quality time with my family, but now that school and extracurriculars are not as time consuming due to all of the cancellations, I’ve had to find ways to get along with my family.
So while I complain about missing my friends and everything that has been taken away from all of us in the last couple of months, there is still a bright side to these dark times: I can spend more time with my family than ever before.
By next year, my oldest brother will either be searching for jobs or on his way to graduate school, while my second brother will be across the country in college. We’ll have different spring breaks and various time frames for winter break so our family reunions will be left to those short overlaps.
In the blink of an eye I’ll be living in a dorm in who knows where. After that, I’ll most likely move on with my own career and live in a different city, state or even country than my family. So when I really think about it, I only have so much time left with them. The day will come when home-cooked meals and “Fakin’ it” with my family will just be a memory. So while quarantine is inconvenient in so many aspects, I’m doing my best to take advantage of the time I have to bond with my family.