During this strange time that we are living through, I thought it might be a useful perspective to let folks know how a family like ours has been living through this shelter-at-home period and do our bit to help society pull through the other end of all this.
The rumor machine on the internet might lead people to believe Scientologists are dealing with the pandemic in some special way or have a particular opinion on the subject, so I figured I’d at least say how we’re getting our family through it though, and you can let me know if you think our approach is any different.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Ton of Cure: Teaching Kids About Illness Prevention
Comparing notes with other parents, I think one thing that’s for certain is that young kids these days have more of an understanding of the mechanism of viral infection and epidemiology than at any other time in history. When the US started its response to the current outbreak, we educated our kids (like I’m sure the rest of you did) on what a virus is, what the immune system is, and how that all works.
We had a bit of a jump start on the subject, fortunately, as almost exactly a year ago we put our whole family through several waves of nutritional and lifestyle handlings with a fabulous clinic in Silicon Valley, to address some various issues. After multiple waves of medical tests of various sorts, the kids ended up with a fairly comprehensive education on how a gluten and dairy intolerance were affecting the gut & immune systems of a few of us.
So, we at least weren’t starting from scratch in explaining the basics of bacterial and viral infection and how a healthy lifestyle, good sanitary habits and a healthy immune system play into not getting sick. My 9-year-old boy is the “ingredients czar” of the house, making sure that what we buy from the store doesn’t include ingredients that we would react poorly to, and all the kids have taken it upon themselves to ensure they eat well. But we’ve obviously doubled-down on this now, and our church has put together some great materials to make educating oneself on good preventative habits and measures a lot easier.
Yes, they are still kids so like most of the rest of us we’re resorting to singing songs during hand-washing to make sure they wash their hands long enough. But for the most part, sensible preventative measures have been straightforward to implement in our life and haven’t resulted in un-handleable disruption.
A Snapshot of Our Life in the “Lockdown”
Our family lives a few miles south of Portland, Oregon. My wife and I live with our three kids on a property adjacent to a bike trail that leads into the city. I’m a systems engineer and consultant, and generally work from home when I’m not traveling to customer locations. Two of my kids have been being home-schooled while the youngest goes to an area Montessori school.
So, with my state going on lockdown starting at the beginning of March, there were definitely changes to our lives, but not nearly so dramatic as others have had to experience. I obviously have stopped flying around the country to customer locations, and have been doing all of my work remotely. All three of our kids are now being home-schooled given that the Montessori school can’t operate until the state’s shelter-in-place order is lifted, so my wife has worked to integrate age-appropriate lessons for her to do alongside the kids.
The biggest change for my oldest is that up until this month, she’s been spending 16 hours/week at gymnastics practice with her gym team, and losing that daily rigor as well as the human interaction has been rough for her. We’ve found ways to keep everyone in shape for the most part though, and have at least tried to turn that yearning for interaction into teaching the kids good composition skills as they write letters to all their friends.
We’ve found other ways to deal with that too – just yesterday the team parents organized a big drive-by (and bicycle-by in our case) for one of my daughter’s gym friends who’s soon going to be moving out of state, everyone yelling their greetings to each other and waving signs they made.
We make do, and manage to make this a good time for the kids.
Aside from that, too, I think it’s important for everyone to stay healthy and get plenty of oxygen in the lungs, so we’ve tried as best we can to engineer ways for the kids to just stay outdoors as much as possible. We’ve got gardening projects all around the yard, we’re planting trees and veggies and making birdfeeders and growing & releasing butterflies – just whatever we can do to keep them engaged and physically active.
And as for me, obviously with the fact that I’m morning till night during the weekdays working on my computer indoors, I’ve tried as much as possible to get in some quality bike rides on the weekends. We’ve got a big area, so it’s pretty easy if you put more than a second to think about it, to design a great ride that gets you space and fresh air and yet keeps you appropriately-socially-distant.
My wife has been home-schooling our older two kids for the last 3 years now, so fortunately for her this latest turn of events hasn’t changed her daily routine all too much. A number of the supplemental activities that we had with home-schooling groups in the Portland area have had to cancel, like the outdoor camps, the STEM classes at our local science museum and STEM workshops at an area air & space museum.
But we’ve had amazing resources to fill in the gaps, and the main chore here has been selecting which of the many online and interactive resources to fold into the day-to-day schedule. There are already great on-demand resources like Kahn Academy, or ABCMouse for the younger kids. But now, the flood of new resources has been amazing – for example, The Delphian School (a private boarding school an hour west of us) has been putting together a load of free classes on a variety of subjects from cartography to math to biology and science.
We’ve also folded in a lot of great projects that you can get delivered to you, like the Kiwi Atlas Crates and Tinker/Maker Crates, which offer hands-on projects for kids create with & learn STEM subjects at the same time. They’ve ben fabulous.
So, finding a good balance between academic progress and hands-on projects has been her personal passion, and I think she’s been doing an amazing job of it. If you’ve got questions or need ideas, just hit her up and she’d be happy to help.
Scientology Extension Courses
Another area where our lives have been altered by recent events, is that due to state movement & congregation restrictions in our area, we aren’t able to presently attend services in our local Church of Scientology. Generally we’ll go to our local church in Portland on a weekly basis, and will attend seminars and events there fairly regularly as well. But, for the time being, that’s not been possible in the framework of local movement restrictions.
But that hasn’t stopped us from participating. In Scientology, all of the principles, tenets and developments of the religion were codified over time in books and lectures by L. Ron Hubbard. These materials are available for study at home as well as in a local church, in the form of Extension Courses. The way this works, is that one studies the materials at home, and then sends lessons covering the materials studied into Extension Course Supervisors at your nearest Scientology church or mission.
So, my family regularly puts in time on our extension courses at a “family study time” we’ve set up on a weekly basis. It’s a great way to stay connected, but I also constantly find principles relevant to life that I can put into use.
The “Dangerous Environment”
To sum up, though, it’s been important to appropriately balance with the family a knowledge of the current situation, with a healthy dose of just getting on with life. A family paralyzed by fear and in a depressed state of apathy about the future is not going to have a better chance of staying healthy.
IIn an essay available in the free on-line course on Solutions for a Dangerous Environment (which I would highly recommend in this world’s current climate), L. Ron Hubbard said:
The differences between a competent person and an incompetent person are demonstrated in his environment (surroundings). A person is either the effect of his environment or is able to have an effect upon his environment.– L. Ron Hubbard [quote]
Focusing on staying well, espousing a healthy lifestyle, learning and getting more competent and effective physically and mentally means everything to getting everyone through this game in one piece.