Love’s creativity in lockdown

August 1, 2020 - 12:00am -- Living City

Love’s creativity in lockdown
A mother of five young children shares how Covid-19 drew their family closer

When the lockdown started, I asked myself, “What can I do to help someone who needs it, now, because of this situation?” I thought I had more time because I didn’t need to drive the children to school and many activities had been canceled.

But, at a certain point, I realized that I had to accept the fact that I couldn’t cook or do much for others because I now had four young children and one newborn. Just with all of them now at home, 24 hours didn’t seem like enough.

Then I understood that this period was a time that God was giving me and my husband to try to spend quality time loving our children.

I started preparing nice dinners and having special snacks. They were nothing complicated, but the way I was doing them started to change as I tried to enter into my children’s way of looking at the world.

So, to have a fancy dinner, the children wore crowns that they made with an “imagination box” that a friend had sent to us. We even used special “fancy” glass cups for the occasion.

On Sundays we would watch the mass online, but after preparing the altar for that special sacred moment, I would get frustrated because the children often seemed distracted. We finally found a special online mass from the Archdiocese of Singapore, made specifically for children, and that was a special blessing for all of us.

This time was also a perfect opportunity to start praying the rosary as a family for the first time. Each night we lit a candle and prayed two decades together. We obtained some rosary books for children, and that also helped.

To open our children up to world cultures, we started having internationally themed dinners. One night, we had a pizza-Lego night, where we ate and played with Legos all together. Then we decided to go on picnics, roast marshmallows over the fire, and even draw with chalk over our patio floor, while eating cookies and drinking mate (Argentinian tea).

Another day, after researching recipes online, my husband cooked the rice noodles someone had given us, together with Tilapia. We all enjoyed a delicious Chinese dinner while listening to Chinese music, under Chinese paper lanterns that the children made. One afternoon we also invited our neighbors for a “Boba tea party” with Vietnamese tea, boba, which we learned how to make online.

We also had a movie night. We put pillows on the floor of a room and set up the computer. I prepared some snacks on a tray and my husband dressed up with an apron and hat, holding a flashlight. We put up a “Movie here” sign and closed the door. Then I gave each child two tickets from an old roll of raffle tickets. The children were so happy when they saw the sign and opened the “cinema” door — and even more when they paid for the cinema and chose their snack with the tickets!

When my husband finished teaching his college courses, he started helping with the children’s schoolwork. Each morning, he would ring a bell, start school with a prayer, and throw the Cube of Love. At recess time, the children would go outside for 20 minutes. From out of the window, I would hold a sign saying “cafeteria open,” offering a special snack, such as a hard-boiled egg with a face, sliced apples with sprinkles, or an oatmeal “cake in a cup.”

Another day, I needed to exchange the kids’ winter clothes for their summer ones, so we prepared a “thrift store.” I prepared four big plastic bags and a sign in the living room that read, “Donation of winter clothes for 10 tickets.” In another room, I put a sign on the door, “thrift store open.” My husband and I were there, wearing our hats behind a table set up with their summer clothes in exchange for the tickets. The children were very surprised, happy and excited. In this way the children put away their winter clothes, and we saw them carefully choosing each piece of summer clothing, as if it all were new.

During this time, we really learned to appreciate everything much more: a sunset, plants in the woods, the songs of the birds.

Of course, in some moments, it really wasn’t and still is not easy, so I put a sign in my kitchen that said: “Can you love me here?” This helped me to remember that in those difficult moments, Jesus on the cross is present and I can love him there.

- Mavi Torres De Col