Coronavirus Chaos…Time for Teaching Moments and to Recall a Carly Simon Song….

Who remembers in 1978 the Heinz Ketchup commercial, Anticipation? It was two young boys holding up a Heinz Ketchup bottle over their burgers anticipating the ketchup coming out of the bottle with the jingle being a knock-off on the popular Carly Simon song, Anticipation!

My kids and I have always used that commercial as a metaphor for things to come and how sometimes in our minds the anticipation is worse than the actual event, like going to the dentist. But as I review the lyrics, it holds truer truths today than in 1978…

We can never know about the days to come

But we think about them anyway

Anticipation, anticipation

Is makin’ me late

Is keepin’ me waitin’….

I always listen to a lot of news, especially during the surge of political mania, but now with this virus it’s about life and death situations with the anticipation of good and bad news while creating anticipation for “Makin’ me late, is keepin’ me waitin’.’’  Keeping me late and waiting for what? For getting back to normal life with endless prayers for health all over the world!

When did you ever wish to be in bumper-to-bumper traffic??? Empty freeways, ghost-town like downtown streets and closed businesses are a sign that something awful is happening with anticipation that it could swallow up our personal space and world.

I was recently asked if I remembered any time in my life being such a chaotic world. I thought about the question for a day or so and realized the answer was, “Yes!” Different in details but the overall emotion was the same! Anticipation! And not the good kind!

I am a California native, half my life in SoCal and since 1985 in NorCal. We live every single day with the anticipation of Earthquakes!

—1952: I was six years old and remember my Dad pulling me and my younger brother out of bed and holding us as he stood under a doorway; SoCal quake measuring 7.3, pretty big. I was never the same, always anticipating those shaking moments!

—1971: I was nine months pregnant during another SoCal quake, 6.6. Talk about anticipation! I didn’t want to leave home but I gave birth eight days later in a hospital with cracked walls, glass doors and windows gone, no ceiling, just pushing and screaming while looking up at wires and whatever else is inside ceilings. Not a good place to be while having a baby!

—1989: San Francisco, 6.9 eq. I was actually in downtown San Francisco, attending college classes, about 25 miles from home, ON CRUTCHES after a knee injury, standing outside on the sidewalk during a class break when the street and tops of lamp posts touched!!! Don’t ask! Very difficult to run while on crutches! My younger kids are home, my brother is at the Giant’s Ball Park for the World Series, my oldest daughter is at school in Santa Cruz (a few miles from the epicenter). It took me six hours to drive home! No Bay Bridge to go over and I didn’t feel safe going over any of the other bridges so I traveled south on the #101 Freeway for five hours, in parking-lot kind of traffic, then headed north to home. Don’t ask! Every few feet was anticipation of another aftershock and fearing freeway overheads would come tumbling down like the parts of the Bay Bridge!

—October of 1962, Cuban Missile Crisis: I remember having breakfast with my parents and two younger brothers before going to school when suddenly my Dad stood up in front of my Mother, pointed a finger at her (not like him to do that) and said with such power, “LA has an emergency alert system, we’ve heard them practicing with the air-raid sirens. IF they should go off and it is the real thing, YOU ARE NOT TO GO DRIVING TO ALL THREE SCHOOLS LOOKING FOR THE KIDS! YOU STAY AT HOME AND I WILL RUSH RIGHT HOME! THE TEACHERS WILL TAKE CARE OF THE CHILDREN AND SEND THEM HOME WHEN IT’S SAFE!” Wow! That was enough to instill fear and anticipation! Air-raid sirens in the United States is  like hearing the sound of European police cars—you think Nazis are coming!!

—2020: Who would have ever thought that we’d be told to stay home, only go out for necessities, maybe take a walk, kids not going to work, grandkids not going to school, no toilet paper, hardly any medicines on the shelves, worried if we have enough food, not seeing our families??? And while waiting with anticipation to see if we or any of our family and friends get the virus! The anticipation is waiting for something we can’t see but know is out there!

In times of crisis, there are always stories of creativity and human kindness! In order to turn this depressing thought piece into some positivity, I want to share some ways I’ve heard to help keep us active in mind and spirit!:

—I had to bring a friend some food I cooked for their family and while driving in their neighborhood, there were two little kids sitting at a homemade lemon aid stand with a handwritten banner that said, “WAVES AND SMILES!!” They had on big lipstick smiles on their faces while jumping up and down and waving to all passers-by!

—I saw a report about a winery that has turned their alcohol making into sanitizer making! A cosmetic company that went out-of-business donated bottles to fill the sanitizer and they are being given away for free!

—How about we use our time wisely and Create Teaching Moments: Whether it is moms and dads at home with the kids or grandparents who can FaceTime:

  1. Great time for grandparents to share family stories. Tell the grandkids about your life experiences, how you got through difficult times, what were your best days.
  2. Teach kids to write thank you notes (lost art) or a letter with pen and paper and address an envelope!
  3. Try a new recipe each day or teach how to scramble an egg! Make pasta! Chicken soup!
  4. Teach kids how to use the washer and dryer and to wash their own clothes, how to use a vacuum cleaner, the dish washer, change the sheets, clean a bathroom!
  5. Make a diary, show kids how to write a daily entry sharing their at-home experience during this insulated time, like Anne Frank. Read Anne Frank together!
  6. All kids need to know how to clean out a drawer, a closet, get rid of old shoes and clothes that are too small!
  7. Make a bag of donations for Good Will with all unnecessary toys and books, fill it with those unused clothes and shoes!
  8. Family-Clean-Out-the-Garage Day!
  9. Create a daily exercise routine with the kid’s favorite music.
  10. Play cards, board games, make-up games! Build a fort in the living room and let the kids sleep in it!
  11. Look at a map, make up map games!
  12. Do something DIFFERENT EVERYDAY in this time of craziness!
  13. Using the internet, create a scavenger hunt for history events, what city is in what country, who was the inventor of?
  14. CREATE MEMORIES that your children and grandchildren can share with their kids and grandkids so they can recall how you made life as interesting and fun for them during this difficult experience.

And, as Jews, please read this poem a friend sent me, read it to your kids, pass it on to your loved ones. May we all be healthy and safe….Sandy

What if you thought of the pandemic

as the Jews consider the Sabbath—

the most sacred of times?


Cease from travel.

Cease from buying and selling.

Give up, just for now,

on trying to make the world

different than it is.

Sing. Pray. Touch only those

to whom you commit your life.

Center down.

And when your body has become still,

reach out with your heart.

Know that we are connected

in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.

(You could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives

are in one another’s hands.

(Surely, that has come clear.)

Do not reach out your hands.

Reach out your heart.

Reach out your words.

Reach out all the tendrils

of compassion that move, invisibly,

where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–

for better or for worse,

in sickness and in health,

so long as we all shall live.


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