March 18, 2020 10:27 PM   Subscribe

"In the space of just a few weeks, so much about our lives has changed. The formerly slow drumbeat of Covid-19 infections in Australia, like the US and UK, has become a quickening pulse, with scores of new diagnoses every day. [...] For many younger adults, something else has changed. All of a sudden, spooked by graphs and reports showing much higher morbidity rates from Covid-19 among the elderly, we have become deeply concerned about our ageing parents. This anxiety is manifesting in a strange role reversal." SLGuardian
posted by katra (156 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Yes! I dont know that this is limited to millenials, but I've had a lot of frank conversations in the last week about risk factors and possible outcomes of COVID infection. Hospital ventilator is actually a -good- outcome, mom - so stay home!
posted by esoteric things at 10:56 PM on March 18 [8 favorites]

Shit, I'm full on Gen-X and was about 8 hours from flying home to convince my 73 year old mom that going on an 11 day cruise was a dumb dumb idea (2 weeks ago)
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:00 PM on March 18 [33 favorites]

It took a coordinated multi-sibling effort to get my parents to stop going to their 3-times-a-week senior's badminton club at the community center - "We were concerned, but it's actually not crowded at all this week!" YEAH, BECAUSE THERE'S A PANDEMIC ON, MOM.
posted by btfreek at 11:08 PM on March 18 [61 favorites]

Yeah, so, my siblings and I all strongly felt my parents should not travel back to their second (first?) home in North Carolina -- they live around 2/3 of the year in NC, and around 1/3 in Chicago. They had come up to Chicago, where three of their four children live, for various family events, and then coronavirus happened. My dad, who is 70 this year but still working, felt strongly he had to be AT WORK and at his physical place of business. We staged an all-hands coordinated "DON'T TRAVEL!" intervention, but we're not straightforward people; we say things tangentially and in a very Minnesotan, face-saving way, and it did not work. Sooooo I gathered up all my courage and drove over and gave them a piece of my mind, telling them they were making a decision that, if any one of us made it, they'd do everything in their power to prevent (My mom: "When did we ever stop you from doing anything?" Me: "YOU DIDN'T LET ME STUDY ABROAD IN JERUSALEM! AND YOU DIDN'T LET ME SEE LES MIZ!"), and that it was too risky and irresponsible a decision, and that as a senior executive at his business my dad had a responsibility to work remotely and to refuse to travel in order to set a good example, and that if they got sick in (rural) NC, not only did they hate the health care there, but how would we get to them? ("You won't," said my mother, tearily.)

I brought to bear 42 years of my attorney father and my rhetorically-gifted mother delivering lectures to/at me, and my dad was clearly in a state of shock that I was going full-on MY MOM (with bonus dad logic) at him and really could not believe I was bringing to bear 42 years of listening to him lawyer me plus my mom deliver the emotional death blow. (My parents don't really argue, so they're not used to each others' tactics that are routinely deployed on their children.) So that part was kind-of funny. Also kind-of funny was that my brothers, who are 40 and 30, were both there (my 30-year-old brother lives there and manages the house for them when they're out of town most of the year; my 40-year-old brother has two very small children and a demanding job and has been working from there since the virus), and after I delivered my STINGING LECTURE, my 40-year-old brother was like, "I agree with everything she said," and my 30-year-old brother was like, "Me too," and I was like OKAY OLDEST SIBLING STILL DOING ALL THE FUCKING WORK AROUND HERE. (I also have a sister in between the two of them who lives on the West Coast and SHE DID HER BEST via phone and text. But the men are FREELOADING.)

Anyway, I failed, and my dad sent me kind-of a snippy text about how his flight had nine people on it and the airport was empty and everything was FINE, FINE. And I hope everything was fine! But uggggggh I have vast fears everything was not fine. But my parents have not CALLED me since they got home because apparently my lecture was JUST THAT STERN and they're afraid I might lecture them again and I am not totally sure what to do with this role reversal I am holding. I mean, they traveled, it's over, I don't need to lecture any more. But they are hiding from me like they are recalcitrant children who know they're in trouble and IT IS VERY WEIRD. Especially since all my siblings have gotten calls!

Honest to God I never gave them this much trouble, I was a straight-A student who only almost got expelled once.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:12 PM on March 18 [227 favorites]

I too am struggling with this! I’m 37, and I’m trying to figure out how to tell my parents to cancel their trip to fly down and see us at the end of the month. Like yes yes, we want to see you too BUT NOW IS NOT THE TIME
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:24 PM on March 18 [12 favorites]

My parents are finally getting back from Costa Rica tomorrow and this last week or two my inbox has been “this is cancelled” “that is cancelled” “you are legally and ethically required to stay home” and “hey look we saw a crocodile!” And... I don’t care really care about crocodiles right now?
posted by aubilenon at 11:38 PM on March 18 [21 favorites]

Hello yes I am a grown adult who is about to move in with her two 70ish-year-old parents*, a seven hour drive away from my home, school, and all support networks besides immediate family, because my parents are both anxious for me and lackadaisical about the preservation of their own wellbeing. I am dreading the loss of my autonomy and ability to get my work done. And my sister is too overwhelmed to make good decisions, so the kids have been around our parents even while attending school and socializing with their friends through the end of last week. My nephew had a fucking fever and they had him over. They're not going out a lot but they're also not particularly mindful of things like touching their faces or disinfection besides handwashing and regular cleaning. They're privileged people, and there's no reason any of them have to expose themselves except out of sheer cussedness.

*in NC, let me know if yours need someone to check on the house, Eyebrows
posted by notquitemaryann at 11:45 PM on March 18 [20 favorites]

My mom just says she isn't holding onto old age and if it kills her it kills her. Which is awfully hard to argue against. I've egged the adult grandchild. Her precious first born grandson who is in fire fighter training and has had virus training to harass her. Maybe that will help? Sigh.
posted by kanata at 12:14 AM on March 19 [14 favorites]

Which is awfully hard to argue against.

I don't know, there's also weeks of suffering in hospitals, the toll on the rest of the family, the resources she'd be taking up, the other people she'd be infecting... If it kills her it kills her, but why take down anyone else with you? Hell, maybe she'd care about the medical bills.
posted by trig at 12:34 AM on March 19 [33 favorites]

All right, so clearly I’m not the only one dealing with this. WTF is going on? My mom got MAD at me when I told her she needed to stay at home and stop visiting my dad every day IN THE HOSPITAL where he has been since January. My dad has been less than helpful, like all shruggo, your mom will do what your mom wants to do. They are both in their late 70s and I am a middle aged Gen X who is struggling to understand how my brother and I, in our forties, are now having to talk our parents out of behaving like defiant teenagers.

They are starting to understand the seriousness of it now, I think, as our province and their city has declared a state of emergency and started shutting almost everything down except essentials. I don’t know though. My mom didn’t visit Dad today and said she stayed at home all day. “It was boring.”

I mean, I get it. My parents’ lives have been upended since Dad’s accident, Mom misses him terribly, and she wants to see him. I get it. But god damn I do not want her to get the virus or bring him the virus. I cannot believe the hospital hasn’t banned all visitors yet. So far it’s only banned non-family visitors, but that’s not enough. I think a ban is coming though.

Meanwhile I get to lecture them about protecting themselves and flattening the curve and Italy running out of ventilators. I hear their voices coming out of my mouth. Will I be as ineffectual as they were when I was a teenager and didn’t pay heed to them? God, I hope not.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:48 AM on March 19 [19 favorites]

I think for many of us, convincing our parents to settle down and act in the manner we consider responsible is about as simple as they must have found it with us back in the day. On one side of my parental unit, all of my siblings and I flocked to check in by phone on the same day, so my stern lecture about how dispensaries deliver and there is no need to actually go to the dispensary, it seemed to get lost in the din. It sounds like it took one last hell trip to the grocery store, but I think the message to #staythefuckhome has gotten through to my father.

On the other side, I am still recuperating from what started early last week with I need you to get your head in the game and stock up on essentials and there are no Lysol wipes, please stop going to all the stores looking for wipes and hit a crescendo today with what do you mean you went to the pharmacy with the sniffles! and a frantic argument about the availability of community resources. Or, more accurately, I was frantic. My mother was planning to make chicken soup.
posted by katra at 1:15 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]

I was in the co-op a couple of days ago and heard someone yelling at her mum on the 'phone: "You can't spend decades ignoring basic food hygiene and then get paranoid about the virus!" Which is the opposite of this article but amused me (my mother revels in mouldy food).

My parents have both reasonably gone to ground. Which is good of course but now I feel I have to manage their emotions remotely. My father (anxiety and depression; dementia) was already needing a lot of emotional support by telephone. My mother (massive extrovert and weirdly cheery person) is finding isolation intermittently difficult. Again, oldest child, and I feel a weight around this that my sister doesn't, or manages differently.
posted by paduasoy at 1:17 AM on March 19 [13 favorites]

My brother and I have apparently actually convinced my snowbird parents to come back from florida! I mean, they are still going to take a week and a half to leave, and that's not ideal. But it's better than my dad flying to toronto and back for a doctor's appointment, and then them staying until May. Mom's miffed that the pineapple plant she has been growing for 10 years is finally fruiting, and she's going to miss eating it. I'm going to buy that woman so many damn pineapples.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:30 AM on March 19 [10 favorites]

My parents have been cheerfully wandering the stores, despite my mother having had OCD about germs my entire life to an abusive degree. It fills me with rage and dread and I don’t get it. The theory I have to sleep at night (she says, at 4:30 am) is that in your 70s you must have to develop a particular kind of attitude to your own mortality that involves a certain amount of ignoring of things.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:35 AM on March 19 [25 favorites]

(From the New Yorker article) But what accounts for this generational nonchalance? The writer Robin Wasserman reasoned, “My theory is that coming of age at the height of the Cold War/nuclear panic inculcated a faith that no matter how scary things look, the Bad Thing never actually happens.” My mother had a similar take: they’d ducked and covered, and for what?

So my parents are war babies, not boomers, but I feel like there are related reasons for their weird denialism. My mother was born during World War Two and spent the entire first three years of her life in a country occupied by a brutal invading army that routinely slaughtered civilians, from babies to the elderly and everyone in between. There were dire food shortages that continued for years after the war ended and the country was liberated. Life was, frankly, fairly shitty for a good part of her childhood. But, according to my mom’s stories, corroborated by my grandmother and aunts and uncles, people just soldiered on and you just tried to live life as normally as possible. That is literally what kept people going during the war and its aftermath.

And now I think my mother feels besieged and beleaguered by the traumatic events of the past few months that, for her, started when her husband of nearly 50 years had a severe accident that landed him in the hospital, where he still is. After spending almost every day of the last five decades together, they are forced to be apart. She goes to visit him daily, but comes home to an empty apartment at night. And now, there’s a pandemic and a state of emergency. She just got used to that new normal and now she’s supposed to adjust to yet another one? HELL NO. She’s putting her foot down because this new reality sucks, all of it.

Her response is actually quite understandable. Yet very stressful for me and my brother. (And yes, he is the youngest and is leaving the heavy lifting to me, the oldest, in a dynamic that’s been mentioned a couple of times in this thread. “Mom is still mad at me about that other thing. She’ll listen more to you.” HA HA YEAH RIGHT.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:58 AM on March 19 [30 favorites]

People! Stop flying around the country! Stop moving in with your elderly relatives!

The situation is that if you don't have the virus by the time you leave for the airport then, you risk picking it up on the way to, at the airport, on the flight, at baggage claim, (at border control), on the way back from the airport, at your destination. Moving around the country is just spreading it. We're not necessarily expecting societal collapse - and warmer places appear to have less rapid growth than cooler places. If your parents have a place in Florida and can drive around/get deliveries it's probably going to be safer to be there - at least until the first peak and a much reduced R_0.

Similarly moving in with your 70 year old mother is bad idea unless you are willing to live the social isolation that she will have to and are willing to isolate yourself for at least 7 days when you get there in case you're the vector. Moving in with her to keep her company or in case she gets ill without doing the above increases her risk.

The only way to protect elderly relatives is for them to stay away from infected people and their fomites.
posted by zeripath at 2:10 AM on March 19 [18 favorites]

My mom runs one of those franchised paint-and-sip studios on the side; it was a herculean struggle to convince her to shut it down for the duration, and even then it was mostly due to the school closures and the governor declaring a state of emergency. I dread having to tell her that she's probably never going to open it again, whether because the prolonged lockdowns necessitate selling the property or because nobody will want to book parties on account of virus fears (or just having no disposable income any more).
posted by Rhaomi at 2:17 AM on March 19 [7 favorites]

My mother is 90, and she lives on her own in Israel. For the last many years, we’ve been Skyping daily, sometimes for an hour at a time. Yesterday I told her that from now on we should call each other twice a day. And she just did, letting me know that she went down to the grocery story, there were only a couple of people there , and now she stocked up on everything she needs. So we’ll talk again in the evening.
posted by growabrain at 2:24 AM on March 19 [17 favorites]

My mom just says she isn't holding onto old age and if it kills her it kills her. Which is awfully hard to argue against.

I am deep in a heated row with my aunt right now, because she and my mother (late fifties, MS) had planned to go to a Tiny House Festival in regional Australia next week. It's been cancelled, so rather than go to a remote wool town they'v opted to go on a fucking road trip. We're in Queensland which is affected but our cases of infection are relatively low, and they're planning on spending two weeks trawling from hotspot to hotspot. My mother takes immunosuppressants so her immune system doesn't destroy her nerves, so she's very compromised at the best of times and I just....you're going to become plague vectors. Two weeks. The whole pre symptomatic phase. And they usually stay in air bnbs or camp in Grey Nomad hotspots - so all people over 65 or so. It's just infuriatng. AND they are swap weeks caring for my octogenerian grandmother.

I mean they're primed to kill people. My grandmother, other retirees and travellers, random people up and down the Australian East Coast. And I just can't get through to them how monumentally bad an idea that is. My mother has the same sort of sentiment as Katana's mother, born from the understanding that as her MS progresses old age is going to get less and less appealing, but even the bit where they're likely to be infecting god only knows how many people between here and there seems to just roll off them.

It's infuriating. I'm in hard lockdown due to a chest cold I've picked up (no fever or body aches or anything) and picking up Covid now would probably kill me. I had Mum pestering me for a visit last weekend and no matter how hard I tried to convince her not to come she was all "I love you, I don't mind getting a bit sick to see you" and I couldn't get through to her just how much of a risk that was in light of what's going on. I wound up sending the kids outside to play with her while I kept my distance indoors but fuck.

So I feel this in the core of my being right now.
posted by Jilder at 2:25 AM on March 19 [29 favorites]

My parents are in their 70s, and I THANK ALL THE HEAVENLY POWERS that they aren't like this. It's the opposite, in fact - my cousin had a wedding scheduled for April, and yesterday had to make the sad decision to postpone it in response to the coronavirus. But it was TWO WEEKS AGO that my parents decided that they were going to maybe drop out of attending "because we're in the high risk group and it probably would be smarter for us to stay home".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:35 AM on March 19 [21 favorites]

I was so worried about this. My father is 81 and has asthma and is, shall we say, a teensy bit SET IN HIS WAYS. We just recently had an argument about the fact that my sister and myself bought him a jersey to replace the incredibly full of holes jersey he's been wearing. I was sure that he'd resist stopping his routine of going to the nearby shop every morning to get his favourite freshly baked bread.
But...lo and behold...he's perfectly fine about it. And I know it's not easy for him. He just phoned me and did a gentle little bit of pointed joking about us being controlling, but it's all in good humour.
On the other hand my sister, who lives with my father, has just heard one of her colleagues is a confirmed covid 19 case. She's not been near the sick colleague at all, but she was in the same room as the sick colleague's partner. No symptoms, not sitting close by them, but it's still scary. I'm not sure if she's still going in to work? I hope to hell she isn't.
Take care, everyone. Be kind to yourselves. This is tough.
posted by Zumbador at 2:46 AM on March 19 [9 favorites]

(I do hope that the whole "flatten the curve" and "don't use resources sick people need" won't turn into blaming or shaming people who do get sick. I mean...this thing is incredibly contagious. )
posted by Zumbador at 2:48 AM on March 19 [17 favorites]

Leaded gas. Got to be. Is there any other explanation for their stupid stubborn bone-headedness?
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:16 AM on March 19 [26 favorites]

Both my parents and my spouse's were worried about this before I was. Mom (whose name is, coincidentally, Deborah) cancelled a routine doctor visit more than two weeks ago, and I thought that was a bit on the paranoid side at the time. I feel like I don't have to worry about them much, compared to all the other things to worry about. So, thanks Mom!
posted by Foosnark at 4:26 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]

I feel weird about saying this because my father has gone full on racist rhetoric about it and only takes advice from Trump and Hannity. I honestly haven't even tried because in his state anything I say he might go and do the opposite just to be provocative.

Ugh. I don't even know what to do.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:45 AM on March 19 [13 favorites]

Sending lots of warmth and solidarity to everyone else in this boat, especially where those with added layers of abuse histories to contend with.

My dad is 70 and loves taking transit all over the large city where he lives to go to many different small business and cultural events and stuff, and also still works and travels for work. Compared to others, I feel fortunate that it only took one phone call of me begging him in order for him to agree to social distancing, but he probably actually should be isolated.

And then at the end of this call, he said hopefully, "Well, you probably can't come visit in late March, but early April should be OK, right?" and I had to say, no, it wouldn't. My sister is booked to come visit from across the country this June so we could all get together, and my sister and I know it won't be happening, but we don't think our dad does. It's hard.
posted by ITheCosmos at 5:09 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]

My parents and inlaws appear to be taking things seriously, which is good. But they are all spread out geographically far away (including over a now-closed international border) so if someone needed help there may not be much any of their children could actually do. I wish that my family had clustered even a little bit more; right now, only two of us are even within a day's drive of each other.

I am trying to find the right phrasing in order to check that they all have wills, etc, in place, without sounding gloomy or increasing anyone's stress levels. (This is why you should talk about these things more routinely, so it isn't a weird interjection in the middle of a global crisis...)
posted by Dip Flash at 5:10 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]

Gen X son of Boomer mother, with pre-teen kid, here. The kid was not having any of this lockdown stuff, wanting to continue to do sport and go to school and see friends.

My mother, however, has been amazing at helping out with this, because she lived through the pool closures of the 1950s during polio outbreaks. She's lived through lockdown summers unable to see friends, and remembers getting the vaccine when it finally went public (after a rocky false start or two). It's been a really helpful bridge.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 5:45 AM on March 19 [22 favorites]

GenXer here.

My father's in his 90s. Lives in an assisted living facility in Michigan. His mind's still there, but his body is falling apart with multiple illnesses, mobility issues, failing arms. He's down to about 2/3rds of one lung (decades of smoking + cancer).

We talk on the phone once a week.

Four weeks ago I raised the coronavirus with him. He wasn't interested.

Three weeks ago, same. He had some morbid interest, but it was just China, and set aside.

Two weeks ago: now he's interested, but thinks it's a flu. "It's sad how it kills so many children," he explained to me. He wasn't paying attention. His facility was on lockdown, but for an unrelated issue (a gastro infection, I think).

Last week: he's very concerned. It's serious. The facility's lockdown is now for COVID-19. But still he insists on going out to shop for food (yes, the building provides all three meals, which he pays for. And yes, his taste buds are dead, and he likes neither eating nor cooking. His kitchen is almost entirely empty. And still he goes to the grocery store regularly to buy some food to make food he can't taste.). He told me about the many stupid people shopping and panic buying. "This one woman bought enough pasta to feed a family for two weeks!"
Me: "Maybe that's precisely what she needs to do."
Him: silence. Then "Anyway..."

I want to visit him - we live several states away - but can't get through the lockdown.
posted by doctornemo at 6:17 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]

rum-soaked space hobo's point about polio is something I've been sitting with for the last day or so - for every asshole who wants to go on about how our muscular forefathers wouldn't just cancel D-Day for some crummy virus, all I see is how little that asshole must know about the very history they're trying to use as a clumsy pointing-and-shaming device. The D-Day folks would have known plenty of friends and family members who died or experienced permanent effects from infectious diseases like measles, mumps and polio, and I strongly suspect they'd be taking this much more seriously than the generation of asshole kids they produced who lived in a time of unprecedented good health & fortune seem to be taking it on social media.
posted by terretu at 6:21 AM on March 19 [43 favorites]

I live in another country to all my older relations. And on Saturday I told them I would cancel my planned Easter trip to see them. The response was ‘if you’re working from home anyway it doesn’t matter if you get stuck here’...so to get the message through to my aunt I ended up sending them the video that compares the Bergamo obituaries pre virus and now. My aunt and uncle are both in their 70s and my sources, her grown up grandson, tell me that my aunt is actually quite sacred now. Both my cousin’s son and I feel this is a good thing, cause it means they will stay in and they have cancelled bridge and bowls and dinner parties for the foreseeable future...finally. And my cousin’s son assures me that he, his gf and brother will make sure they have everything they need so pretty impressed with him.

But I have no idea how to get through to my father, who is 75 and that frustrates me to no end.

What does help a little is a general consensus with my colleagues, all working remotely, that that whole generation seems to be in some kind of denial about how serious this is.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:22 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]

Oh, this so much. One minute I think my parents get it (they are both retired medical professionals, they really should) the next my mum is suggesting we meet up this weekend.

I said no. I'm sure they think we are overreacting by going full on social distancing, but I'm past caring and rapidly approaching the point where I tell them exactly how daft they are being (for context, my spouse works in an environment where his risk of exposure is reasonably high).
posted by ErisMorn at 6:32 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]

In the last couple years of my departed Mom's life she was so fragile that a cold would've killed her, so my dad has a keen sense of situational awareness with this virus - he's been stocked up and hunkered down for 2 weeks already. My aunties, on the other hand, are still swanning about in foreign lands with not a care in the fucking world, and tut-tut me as an alarmist when I tell them they need to get their arses back to Canada now (insert Picard facepalm gif here)
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 6:33 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]

GenXer here too.

My mom has always been big on risk avoidance (overly so sometimes), and they have a chest freezer full of food, so they're staying home and I'm very thankful for that. Overall around here the 'stay home' message seems to be well followed. (helps that we're insta-deploying massive help programs to help people deal with it)
posted by WaterAndPixels at 6:33 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]

I anticipated having to do this with my mom because I know she at least occasionally watches Fox News, but was pleasantly surprised that she took the virus seriously.
posted by Jpfed at 6:35 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]

My mother was invited to dinner with a 70-year-old friend that works with the public (and is still open, because their state hasn't ordered non-essential businesses to close) and I was like "Um. You're not going, are you?" and she WHINED AT ME.


Seriously. She whined at me like a 16-year-old.

I'm not ready for this.
posted by Automocar at 6:39 AM on March 19 [22 favorites]

People have been noticing this dynamic all over the place lately, here's a piece in Buzzfeed: How Millennials are Talking to Their Boomer Relatives About the Coronavirus.

I think my mother actually likes being a senior in some ways; she likes the discounts, she likes being offered a seat on the bus, she likes the freedom of her retirement. She doesn't, however, actually see herself as old, because so many of her friends are even older than her.

Sigh. My mother was always the overprotective one, so it's weird to see her completely ignore the news, which she watches constantly.
posted by invokeuse at 6:45 AM on March 19 [7 favorites]

Mom is 84 and Dad will turn 83 tomorrow, and thankfully, they are both taking this very seriously. "We're only going out to get groceries," Mom has assured me, and I don't doubt it. Both of them were in high school before the polio vaccine was widely available, so they grew up with restrictions on group activities in the summer when polio spikes.

They've told me and my sister that face-to-face visits are out for the foreseeable future. They've hauled out the DVDs. They already have a million books and magazine subscriptions. And they have each other, which is huge.
posted by virago at 6:48 AM on March 19 [10 favorites]

Same same same same. I convinced my dad, a government contractor, to work from home. And then I convinced him to not get a haircut. My mom recently told me that she had just been to Aldi but "the lines were too long" and that they'd go back when it was less crowded, and I was all NO YOU WILL NOT GO ANYWHERE. She started whinging about organic vegetables. I told her to join a local CSA that has a winter session and she refused, saying it would upset the CSA she is currently signed up with for the summer.


And, to reiterate what drewbage1847 said, this is not just a Millennial thing, this is a Gen-X thing, too, and in fact can we just stop using generational labels while this is going on because fucking a.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:48 AM on March 19 [15 favorites]

I've noticed the Gen-Xers in here talking about their parents having (for the most part) a bit more sense....it's possible that that's because our parents might not be Boomers, but rather be part of "The Silent Generation", a smaller group that actually came between the "Greatest Generation" and the Boomers. It's said that they tend to be more cautious.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:52 AM on March 19 [19 favorites]

I don't know, there's also weeks of suffering in hospitals, the toll on the rest of the family, the resources she'd be taking up, the other people she'd be infecting... If it kills her it kills her, but why take down anyone else with you?

This was what I had to do. She was in full on Irish Catholic denial about everything until I went on at length, and in detail, about what I would have to deal with if she got this thing. I think that’s a quirk of her own neuroses and background — god forbid she consider her own welfare, ever, but she is obligated to consider all others, forever — and it was kind of a mean, desperate trick, but it fucking worked. She got out of NYC before it got bad and is now safely ensconced upstate with her self-isolating sister and sister’s partner, a retired nurse.

This isn’t so much a role reversal — I’ve been parentified in certain ways my whole life — but it still sucked. And my mom wasn’t in denial because of her politics; she was in denial because she was scared. I have no idea how other people are managing their dumb boomer parents.

And that doesn’t even get into all the Zoomer idiots on spring break right now.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:57 AM on March 19 [18 favorites]

I turned 70 recently. I also retired recently but had just started working at my old job part-time when this shit happened. My kids did not need to put any pressure on me to stay the fuck home. I went to work for a few hours 9 days ago. I bought groceries that same day. I haven't been anywhere outside my neighborhood since then. As far as anyone knows there are no cases of covid-19 in this city. (Yes, I know that does not mean it isn't here.) I go walking every morning and feel incredibly lucky that I live in a neighborhood with abundant trees and parks. It's also warm enough that people are out on their porches or working in their yards so there's some safe socializing going on.

I also feel very lucky that nobody in my family watches Fox or lives in any kind of delusional bubble. I feel for all of you who have parents who are not staying the fuck home. If you need a surrogate aunty I'm available.
posted by mareli at 6:59 AM on March 19 [21 favorites]

My mom was slow to take this seriously and my stepdad even slower. My mom went out to get a last haircut while preparing to stay at home, and my stepdad has been business as usual. My mom thinks he's starting to get it, but we'll have to see. He's a contractor/construction worker. He does have projects he can work on alone, but a normal day's work often involves meeting with multiple people.

(His business partner's wife works in a local ICU, too. So.)

I'm really worried. My mom has some health conditions that just mean her reserves are lower than they could be.

I've told her that if my stepdad doesn't shape up, she should move into my old bedroom, use my bathroom, and isolate herself from him. Don't cook for him, sanitize the kitchen before using it. If he doesn't shape up, I'm seriously trying to decide whether calling him would be productive, and if so, what I can say. "Please don't kill my mom. I love her and I love you and if you do that I don't know how we'll ever recover from it"?

The first person to catch coronavirus in their town died yesterday. Although that's awful for the man and his family, I hope that is kind of a wake-up call for my stepdad. He worked for a major employer. There are probably a lot of carriers in our town now.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:00 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]

So, between the Boomers wanting to rub their faces all over the canned goods at the supermarket and the Zoomers packing beaches for spring break (saying things like "If I get corona, I get corona, I'm not going to stop partying", actual quote from a human being) are only Millennials and Gen X taking this seriously?
posted by Automocar at 7:01 AM on March 19 [20 favorites]

To answer above: We are Canadian and don't have to worry about medical bills. Also she loathes Trump/ and Sheer so it is not that she is hearing right wing things. It's just from i imagine a lifetime of things being hard she'd rather go.

My mom is the shining example of repressed Canadian women and would prolly find a way to go in her own home with her flu death plan if it came to it. She's washing her hands as always but that's about the extent. She thinks all this fuss is a little much.

This is a woman who fell on the ice and broke her wrist and proceeded to take grandchildren to McDonald's and then come home and wait 5 hours while white with pain for her son to come and get the kids. Then she finally told me while asking if I would mind taking her to the ER.

We have a complicated relationship due to her being abusive and also her now being a financial and dog sitting help since my chronic illnesses began. But still I'd rather she didn't die. I've tried numerous times but she's been here since 1941 and has seen flus come and go. And also has lived in worse conditions.

I wish we could find a way through to them without angry shame. I've tried and it failed.
posted by kanata at 7:01 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]

...but rather be part of "The Silent Generation", a smaller group that actually came between the "Greatest Generation" and the Boomers. It's said that they tend to be more cautious.

Sorry Empress, I couldn't help but read this in David Attenborough voice. "The single silent emerges cautiously from behind the garden gate..."
posted by Zumbador at 7:03 AM on March 19 [16 favorites]

Honestly I'm more angry at the 30 year olds I see in the store stockpiling with their children amongst elderly and chronically ill people than this boomer thing. But then I see boomer as a class slur.
posted by kanata at 7:07 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]

My parents are being sensible for themselves, and on Friday--when it will have been two weeks since they visited New Orleans, the nearest port city--I will feel better. Assuming they do, of course; they've been fine since, and they live in a small Southern city that is low-risk in itself. They do not have Fox News poisoning, although I worry about what they have seen of their friends who do.

My dad wants me to come be with them. I wish I could, just so they would have somebody younger around in case of infection, but it isn't right. He's not pressing it, but he says it's safer there. He isn't wrong--there's more COVID in my city than in that whole state--but it wouldn't help me to come home and possibly trail clouds of virus in my wake. He cannot get this. He cannot get this. His heart and his upper respiratory issues--I am so glad he is retired from health care now. This time last year, he would have been on the front lines. And he cannot get this.

Even so, he says he'd drive up to Boston for me if he had to. God love him.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:08 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]

doctornemo: I want to visit him - we live several states away - but can't get through the lockdown.

And that is precisely why there is and had to be lockdowns!

You could be asymptomatically infected, they could be symptomatic or asymptomatically infected, even if you're driving you could pick it up at any of the gas stations along the way (if you're flying there are so many ways!) Even if you avoid human contact, you could pick it up from fomites like hard plastic surfaces. Even if you're careful everyone around you probably isn't - it's possible to avoid infection yourself but still have the virus on your clothes etc. that could then infect someone else.

Please stop moving around and stop visiting vulnerable people.
posted by zeripath at 7:12 AM on March 19 [16 favorites]

My parents are late sixties/seventies, and in high risk group even without factoring in the age, because of underlying diseases. In a lucky break, they were living with a sibling when the outbreak started in my country. In a less lucky break, my mom then fell ill that required specialist intervention and repeated visits to a hospital for diagnosis and testing. It was terribly suboptimal to keep going out, but sibling and I couldn't figure out a way around it at the time. Now that the situation is better managed, we've both decided to defer the routine tests/follow up for a few weeks and keep them in lockdown. Luckily they agree, but I think they're getting a bit cabin-fevery. I feel terrible that I'm not around to help AND that we're basically stopping her treatment for some time (she's recovered enough that it's no longer awful), but flying from my city to theirs would be crazy because currently my state has the highest number of infected people in India. So here we all are, waiting and hoping that it gets better soon.
These last couple of weeks have been full of decisions made under stress and fear that I am constantly second guessing. I am exhausted.
posted by Nieshka at 7:12 AM on March 19 [7 favorites]

There's a certain amount of Old people, so foolish, so stubborn, so misinformed here. Quite a bit, in fact. I am recently retired from my IT job, which had a lot to do with ageism, sexism and disability discrimination. As far as I can discern, and I've been paying attention, there is some relationship between age and being a Republican/ Right, so more likely to listen to the Denier-In-Chief. But people my age and older are taking Covid19 seriously. The article is the flip side of my Mom being worried about me traveling overseas at 22; the feelings are real, but please take a moment to remember that old people are incredibly individual and maybe don't define people by age so much. Age discrimination has harmed and continues to harm an awful lot of us, cut it the fuck out.
posted by theora55 at 7:28 AM on March 19 [32 favorites]

My parents are 69 and 71. I took dad out to Utah last year, and they were planning to do a Southern Utah grand tour at the end of April, so Mom could see all the things I've been showing her pictures of over the last 20 years.

Yesterday, they called me asking for hotel recommendations. I expressed incredulity, and Mom replied that "there's no penalty to cancel." But then she was calling me about what Antelope Canyon tour to take, and and and...

They're as healthy as anybody their age could possibly be expected to be, but what part of "social distancing" and "high morbidity" do you not get!?!?!
posted by notsnot at 7:37 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]

This FPP is about children talking to parents, but there is a parallel experience going on where parents are trying to get their kids (of whatever age) to actually take this seriously instead of, say, going on spring break or whatever. Given all of the focus in the news about the high death rates for seniors, I have to assume that there are more cavalier young people than old; it's the greater danger to the olds that make it so frustrating for people trying to get their recalcitrant parents to get with the program.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:40 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]

If you think America has problems with social distancing:
The Ram Navami Mela or fair will be held from March 25 to April 2 and is likely to attract millions of devotees.
One of the largest problems world wide is religion.
A Sect in S. Korea caused widespread contamination this has been replicated else where in the world.
Brazilian evangelists are calling for their temples to be reopened, the mega ones hold 10,000 people and Bangladesh has just had a prayer meeting for 30,000 people
posted by adamvasco at 7:44 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]

The UK universities have all just shut down. The UK has about 1.7M undergrads, plus taught MSc students. A total of about 450,000 international students. If they haven't already left many will go home this weekend. Largely via airports and rail and coach transport hubs. I've not seen much saying what the likely impact of all this travel will be on transmission. I assume similar things are happening across Europe. US too?
posted by biffa at 7:46 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]

I called my 70 year old parents last friday to see what they are doing and if I needed to do anything to coordinate for any needs my 91 year old grandma needs.

They were very unbothered. They're excited that tourism is cratering so they can get cheap tickets to Europe in the future. Can't expect much from people whose primary news sources are Breitbart and Fox.

Btw these are the same parents i posted about years ago with some fudged details. I'm done with them.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:52 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]

I badgered my 76 year old parents for a week to cancel their trip to Hawaii that was scheduled for the end of the month. Got my Dad to agree to cancel if the tour company didn't cancel first, so that they could get their money back. Fortunately, the tour company cancelled it for them.
posted by SansPoint at 8:01 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]

The good news is that with my father's illness (my aunt also is very immunocompromised), my boomer parents are taking this all Very Seriously. My father did go to his (home-based) trainer on Monday but after I yelled at them he's decided to stop. (I checked, as gyms are closed; sadly, this appears to be legal, if horrifically unethical to do with a client who is a friend who is getting (successful) treatments to kill off all his lymphocytes. Oh my god I hate this trainer so much.)

The bad news is of course that if he does get this, everyone is pretty sure he will die.

(I am not currently seeing them because I couldn't live with being the person to infect them. On Friday we will have Social Isolation dinner, wherein I come in, wash everything in a bathroom he doesn't use, change my clothes to stuff that lives at their house, disinfect the bathroom, sit on a special blanket, eat pizza where we each get our own, and stay six feet apart. I haven't seen anyone since I saw them for dinner -- same rules -- last Saturday.)
posted by sockingjay at 8:09 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]

She doesn't, however, actually see herself as old, because so many of her friends are even older than her.

There is this factor, yes. I haven’t much talked in detail with my parents about this; they are both mid-70s, but one is a retired health care professional and knows what she’s doing while the other one lives several time zones away so there is not a whole lot I can do to help him directly.

Both of my next-door neighbours on either side are in their cohort, though: one is 73 and the other just about eighty. For both of them, I suggested that the current health situation seem to leave the older folks a bit more vulnerable, so please let us (couple of Gen-X types with a twentysomething offspring) know if they need anything picked up. The elder of the two is closer to your tea party sort, and mostly wanted to share his theories on which ethnic group started it. The younger thanked me and stated outright, “I have difficulty putting myself in the ‘elder’ category but I guess I'm there.”

I told her the steady passage of years means that many of us get there eventually, and the alternatives have limited appeal.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:10 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]

Mr. theBRKP parents are both pushing 80 and have been deliberately hiding their activities from him for the past several weeks. To the point that it is close to radio silence, which is frankly highly unusual.

Except that his siblings are actually AIDING and PARTICIPATING in their activities AND posting them to social media, so I'm not sure how much they are accomplishing there.

Can't wait for the blow-up in a few weeks when they are informed that No, we are not coming for any Easter-time activities this year, no you are not welcome to visit at this time.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 8:12 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]

This is not fair and I rationally know that other people's worries are valid and genuine but I'm feeling really jealous of people who are worried about if they can yell at their parents enough to get them to take this seriously. My dad is 63 and has asthma but he's also a family doctor so there's only so much social distancing he can do. He's switching to mostly tele-medicine, canceling lots of appointments and diverting anyone with upper respiratory symptoms through the covid-19 system but I really worry that things will end up like northern Italy where anyone with medical training is working non-stop with covid-19 patients. My mom is also a doctor who got hospitalized with pneumonia a few years ago, but at least she's a psychiatrist who is not affiliated with a hospital and already shut down her private practice five years ago so things will probably have to get really bad before she's called in.
posted by carolr at 8:24 AM on March 19 [16 favorites]

It's sort of "fun" to read how different parents' needs and personalities are twisting the situation into different shapes.

Both of my parents are in their late 60s, and both have spontaneously told me that they're not that worried about the virus because it's only killing people 70 and up.

As best as I can determine from what she's telling me, Mom is mostly limiting herself to grocery trips every one to three days. This is a big improvement over her previous shopping habits, when she would go two or three times a day. When I talked about maybe going out and getting a week's worth of food at once, to minimize trips out, she protested that she didn't know how to buy like that, didn't know what to get. I was like, but . . . you know, in general, what sorts of things go bad and what things don't, right? And you know what sorts of things you and Dad eat? and she was like of course, but I don't know what I'm going to be hungry for.

Also Mom is a hoarder who has had 15 years to fill their current house, which means that for all practical purposes, there isn't actually room for both her and Dad to be home at the same time, and no room for them to do anything entertaining except watch TV, which they would have to do one at a time because there's only one seat in the living room. My siblings and I have been getting increasingly shrill for a few years now about how Something Needs To Be Done about the state of the house, but it's upsetting to her to contemplate doing anything, so she doesn't, and he gave up on it getting any better decades ago; we've talked to both of them separately about trying to get her some therapy, but Dad is sort of generally distrustful of talk therapy and assumed that Medicare wouldn't pay for it (he's since been informed otherwise; it didn't matter), so now here we are: they both need to stay indoors in a home where they'd have to take turns being seated.

So far, he's able to go to work during the week (he drives a paratransit bus), but that's not necessarily going to last much longer, as ridership is way down and there's been talk of condensing the two routes in their town into a single route. I don't know what happens to them if he can't work. Or if, god forbid, one of them were to get sick. (Dad already has to inform Mom when he wants to go to sleep, so that she can remove the stuff she's placed on the bed during the day. Every night they do this.) Mom does at least wash her hands constantly, and dad's employer has been providing various sanitizers, which it sounds like he uses whenever he has the chance. And they're not going to church at the moment.

The last time I talked to Mom, she was talking like this was just going to be a weird couple weeks and then things would start getting back to normal, and I was like, um, no, I don't know how long it's going to be, but there is absolutely no way things are going to be anything like normal before, like, June. She was like, well, maybe it'll be better faster than that. Nobody knows exactly what's going to happen in the future.

Okay, Mom. Whatever.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 8:30 AM on March 19 [13 favorites]

I have finally, FINALLY, convinced my mother that the 10$ grocery delivery fee she would “save” by going in person is no use to her once she’s dead.

My father is working from home but still seeing his girlfriend who is out and about and I can’t convince him to just, you know, be distance for a few weeks.
posted by corb at 8:42 AM on March 19 [9 favorites]

My 70-yr old parents are generally very anxious people. They generally find something to worry about and prevent them from doing whatever fun thing I have ever invited or encouraged them to do. They don't like to travel. They avoid driving in anything but dry weather (or when it's clear that it's unavoidable, they kvetch over it endlessly.) And that's their game. I'm mostly cool with it, as long as they don't try to keep me from doing things....which they do try allllll the time.

Anyway, regarding COVID-19 they have totally flipflopped! I don't understand. I called them and found they were babysitting my sibling's children! (Have found out that my sibling has now put a stop to that.) They have no plans for social isolation....they continue to go into work... etc. I pointed out that they are in a high risk group. They said, "Eh, we've gotta live our lives." I have never heard them espouse such an attitude - why would it show up now???

Trying to figure out what to do when they decide to take a long distance trip out to my house if they end up getting time off....
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:44 AM on March 19 [11 favorites]

My mom has been behaving, other than she is still going back and forth between her house and her boyfriend's (a 5 minute drive away) and I've warned her that we may be utterly locked down to the point where they make her stop that. I have been encouraging her to move in with him because my mom has been hoarding for 14 years and like Spathe Cadet, nobody's ever been able to get anywhere with her. She claims that she'll start working on the house, but YEAH RIGHT, it's not like she can dispose of any of it even if she wanted to, which she never does. Yesterday she claimed she was working on the shred pile "because there's a shredding event coming up." NO, IT'S NOT. Even if she is utterly trapped in the house for 18 months, she'll never "work on the house." She always claims she wants help with that, but she always gave me shit and trouble so I gave up there years ago. Now she's really stuck.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:47 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]

Honestly I'm more angry at the 30 year olds I see in the store stockpiling with their children amongst elderly and chronically ill people

30 year olds and children also need to eat. Instead of getting angry at people who don't have available day care and are taking care of their family, maybe you should encourage your local store to have well-advertised special shopping periods for the elderly and disabled.
posted by tavella at 8:48 AM on March 19 [33 favorites]

Also Mom is a hoarder who has had 15 years to fill their current house

Maybe this can be a slightly vent-y thread for this. What's frustrating to me about my parents going out is that they are hoarders, and they AND I have absolutely full pantries and freezers for just this eventuality. But for them, this is pushing their buttons a bit more. Then while they're out, they stop at Tim Horton's (FINALLY CLOSED) and their church (ditto) and and and.

I am finding reading this cathartic.

Cf. ageism, if there are Gen-Xers out there blithely not doing social isolation, which I'm sure there are, they are not in my sphere. Yet every one of my friends, pretty much, while sitting at home has been shooting messages like HELP HOW DO I CONVINCE MY MOTHER NOT TO HOLD HER BOOK CLUB. I'm not sure this is ageist, I mean, in a sense it is if you contextualize it like "selfish Boomers" or something like that.

But I think it's more that there actually is a generation gap in response here. Some more thoughts I have:
- my parents definitely did 'duck and cover' but nothing bad happened, if you don't count like, the Vietnam draft.
- the ECONOMIC impacts of things like 9/11 and the 2008 crash definitely hit their stock, but their real estate kept rising in value and my father's job has been secure since 1977. Whereas my spouse and I have both been through rounds of salary reductions and layoffs.
- my parents (and my spouse) had measles, mumps, and my mother had polio but did not require an iron lung. So they may have a different threshhold for this kind of thing
- I still hold to some overall shift in thinking in one's 70s, but I will note that my mother-in-law is now being very sensible. She lives with us, not that I've seen her much since I started coughing, though, so she's sort of being patrolled
posted by warriorqueen at 9:03 AM on March 19 [14 favorites]

My 84-year-old dad just spent two multiple-day stints in a central Iowa hospital and a 2-week stay at his retirement community's healthcare center for a non-Covid viral respiratory infection. He got back into his apartment last Thursday. My dad is a retired Ph.D. biologist, is ultra left-wing, an incredible activist on climate change, and an absolute scientist to the core.

On top of his recent lung issues, his immune system is extremely compromised and is currently on a clinical trial for prostate cancer.

Yet, when the local grocery store was overwhelmed with curbside pickup orders yesterday, he decided to go on his own because he was out of bananas. I mean: FUCK.

On top of all of THAT, he's traveling to the Mayo Clinic today for an appointment about the prostate cancer clinical trial. I've had him grudgingly call twice this week to try to make this a virtual appointment, and they've refused. Mayo Fucking Clinic. Also, given this appointment is happening, my sister and brother-in-law need to drive him there because that's too far for him to be going on his own, plus he can barely hear so someone needs to be there to listen to the doctor. So, multiple hours in close social proximity with family members that would be turned away at the door if they tried to visit his apartment building today.

I wish he wouldn't go to the store for bananas.

I wish he would have canceled this appointment at Mayo even when they tell him he needs to go.

He can't get this virus, it will almost assuredly kill him. I've told him that. He agrees. But still.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:12 AM on March 19 [17 favorites]

The thing is, I can sorta get the idea of "I've lived this long, if a virus takes me, eh." I mean, it's your life, if you're ready to go out, ok.

But the part where you wandering around blithely ends up killing other people, who definitely DO want to keep living, not so much.
posted by emjaybee at 9:16 AM on March 19 [19 favorites]

I live in the US. I was trying to get my siblings back home in the UK to help me persuade my elderly only-just-finished-chemo father to stay home. I resorted to: "Tell him I do not want to be skyping into his funeral next month" .

(Incidentally, can anyone help me understand wtf is up with the UK? Why are they not telling people to stay home yet?? The rest of Europe is on lockdown. Parts of Italy have run out of coffins. But UK schools only officially closed yesterday, and there doesn't seem to be any urgency when it comes to the stay the f home messaging. Viruses don't care about Brexit!)
posted by EllaEm at 9:22 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]

Well I would complain but these parents were taking up the handicap spaces and shopping during the restricted hours but I don't really need to be told to advocate for myself up when I am a disabled person at risk of this disease. Thanks. You know I actually have questions about how to keep myself safe but don't ask as shame gets poured down on me.

I'm disabled and living below poverty at risk of this virus and also at risk of suffering even more if I can't get my medication. It isn't elderly people and disabled people who are stockpiling the shelves clean.
posted by kanata at 9:26 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]

#notallparents of course.
posted by kanata at 9:27 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]

As soon as there was a case in my state, I stopped going out, except to walk the dog in my not-crowded neighborhood. I wave at neighbors, stopped to chat very briefly with my much older chronically ill neighbor, and I kept that to 10 feet of shouting to offer help. I'm fine, but it wouldn't kill you to call.
posted by Mom at 9:31 AM on March 19 [10 favorites]

Honestly I'm more angry at the 30 year olds I see in the store stockpiling with their children amongst elderly and chronically ill people

30 year olds and children also need to eat. Instead of getting angry at people who don't have available day care and are taking care of their family, maybe you should encourage your local store to have well-advertised special shopping periods for the elderly and disabled.

Grocers everywhere are working on buffing up their capacity for curbside pickup and delivery because that is the foreseeable future. You can also expect severely limited choices - like instead of choosing between 15 brands of paper towels, you will be able to just order paper towels and what you will get is what you get. I also foresee standardized grocery kits, like rations, coming as well.

Senior hours sound great but seniors especially should be staying TF at home.

Stay at home! Stay at home. That is the only way to stop this. If you have funds, buy grocery delivery for those who can't afford it. They will just drop the groceries at the door.

Stay at home.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:32 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]

I've been giving the whole panic buying poo paper some thought.

I take care of most of my business at work. Maybe two thirds? Certainly upwards of 50%. So if all my morning constitutionals are now happening at home I need to at least double my purchasing. Plus, the government have told people to stay at home and minimise trips from the house. So its not weird to me that this might lead some people to act to buy more stuff when they shop in order to reduce the number of visits to the supermarket. For me that might be buying enough for 2 weeks instead of every week. But for others then it might be 4 weeks.

So if you consider you might need 2-3 times as much to get you through each week at home and only plan to go out every fortnight, doubling what you need for each visit, then you might well reasonably buy 4-6 time your normal purchase, 8-12 times if you decide to buy for the month. If you normally buy 9 rolls a week for your family then an initial purchase of over 50 rolls does not seem unreasonable.
posted by biffa at 9:38 AM on March 19 [11 favorites]

If you have funds, buy grocery delivery for those who can't afford it. They will just drop the groceries at the door.

There's a three week wait for deliveries to homes here. They only have a queue for three weeks. So you have to work out when the magic hour is that they release the times for three weeks from tomorrow and reserve one quick. Clock and collect doesn't work from the supermarkets in town, so only useful for those who can drive to the next town along.
posted by biffa at 9:41 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]

9 rolls a week? We went through 10-12 a week at the last high volume cafe I worked at. What even.
posted by zinful at 9:44 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]

I think the panic buying of toilet paper is precisely that - panic. People weren't really given any kind of guidance into how to prepare for this, or what to get, and just sort of fell back on "do what we do when it's like a hurricane or something, only because it's a disease that might last longer, triple it".

If we'd had a more prepared government, they may have released some kind of guideline for how to prepare us all and ease us into this. And yet....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:48 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]

CW: TP talk

On the subject of TP: I spent a year living on a boat. Part of living on a boat is being really, really deliberate about your TP usage. Three panels max per pull, fold & re-use if possible to minimize waste. It has stuck with me throughout my life. Just in case anyone needs TP advice in these lean TP times.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:50 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]

Is it time yet for a full and frank discussion on bidets and bum sprayers?
posted by FeatherWatt at 9:55 AM on March 19 [11 favorites]

Gen-Xer with a Boomer mother here. She lives in a retirement community and is sensible, at least. The community shut down the dining room, and now you call in your order the day before and they deliver it to the elevator waiting area. My mom reports that there are people there who don't seem to get it, and when she went down to pick her food up, there was a crowd waiting there , talking to each other. So she went back to her apartment and will go back later.

As regards our TP situation at home, we bought another pack, but if push comes to shove we have thin washcloths, trash cans with lids, and a washing machine with a "sanitary" cycle. And a shower if that's not, er, suitable.
posted by telophase at 9:59 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]

Yes. Yes it is.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:59 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]

(Incidentally, can anyone help me understand wtf is up with the UK?
Cummings, Johnson, Tories.
Plus they've been engaged in weeding out ministers with some idea of what they are doing for the past 3 years. I currently have a bookmarks folder for The Thoughts of Dominic Raab because it will be comedy gold once this is over. Maybe twenty years after, when it might have lost its sting. 30 years?
posted by glasseyes at 10:00 AM on March 19 [7 favorites]

Meanwhile, in Miami, Spring Break IS ONNNNN!

"If I get coronavirus, I get coronavirus. It's not going to stop me from partying."

Some folks have to deal with their parents AND their kids.
posted by Chuffy at 10:00 AM on March 19 [10 favorites]

Yeah my 88 year old mom is pretty much a shut in. And my mother-in-law is in a facility.

But all my millennial/Y’er nieces and nephews are posting IG photos of picnics and parties and soccer and little YOLO gatherings.

I don’t think it’s the old people we have to worry about.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 10:05 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]

Regarding these generational labels, I'd just like to clarify.

My polio-remembering mother is on the very earliest cusp of the actual baby boom. Like there's clearly a cohort who were all conceived right at homecoming from the war, and born before rationing was lifted. My mother used to say that one of the first words she remembers learning to read by rote was "unavailable" which was stamped all over the Sears Roebuck catalogue.

My late father was "Silent Generation" by a few years, but this is treating the end of the war as an almost physical dividing moment.

But we include people who were born after the polio vaccine was standard in the generational label of "Boomer". A generation spans decades, making it less useful for some of these discussions. I still find myself having funny conversations with people only 8 years difference from my own age, because that meant I experienced things like 9/11 or the dot-com boom or the challenger disaster in a completely different way.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 10:06 AM on March 19 [16 favorites]

Also, regarding toilet paper: historically, it's a trivially easy resource to panic over.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 10:07 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]

FeatherWatt, we had it in another thread. There was some fightiness with people for whom bidets did not work and are sick of being told they just did it wrong vs. people who insist on telling them they just did it wrong, and with people who haven’t tried them (or haven’t tried certain types of them) but can’t envision how they would work and demand detailed explanations of how the poo comes off without soap, where the dirty water goes, etc. Basically, a very Metafilter discussion of bidets.

On the actual thread topic: I am so glad my parents are well-informed and do not watch Fox News. They are still going to the grocery store occasionally, because no force on Earth could convince my dad to spend extra money for a convenience (i.e. grocery delivery). But they aren’t going out otherwise. Their various volunteer organizations and other activities have all gone virtual or been cancelled, so they aren’t going to book club, choir practice, the gym, etc.
posted by snowmentality at 10:10 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]

A lot of us have known since long before this emergency that it was a good idea to have a few days or more of emergency supplies around but didn't bother, and then we all decided it was time to get serious at once. Less "hoarding" or "panic buying" than "procrastinating".
posted by Ralston McTodd at 10:11 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]

Incidentally I just put 'Domic Raab idiot' into google and it turned up a lot of hits.
posted by glasseyes at 10:11 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]

"I am finding reading this cathartic."

It sure is!

I live with my 70s mother and it's only because I've been giving her detailed coronavirus updates every day for over two weeks that she's taking this seriously, unlike all of her friends.

Despite this, she'd wanted to get her hair done yesterday. My sister texted asking me to try to entertain her so she won't get too stir crazy, and jokingly suggested I hide her keys to prevent her from going to get her hair done.

So, I sat with my mom at the kitchen table for a few hours talking about this and other things. She laughed it off when I mentioned that my sister wanted me to keep her from getting stir-crazy and going out—but, when we finished talking, she half-jokingly, half-sincerely thanked me for the conversation.

Her friends have invited her out several times and have pressured her to join them. She's very anxious about being forced to either capitulate or assertively tell them "no". She's a left-leaning person in a sea of trumpers, so she's been kind of conditioned to tiptoe around things to avoid losing her social life.

I'm disabled and I've had a hard time hearing her complain about being trapped at home and that I just can't understand because I "live like that anyway". And I'm like, yeeaah ... maybe follow that logic through? I don't deny that I'm a bit reclusive by nature, but there's a difference between being housebound by choice and by disability. She harps on the complaint that she feels trapped and I'm like, yeeaah ... maybe follow that logic through? You see some similarity there?

Her husband died a couple of years ago from cancer and she's had a hugely difficult time adjusting. I think she's missing him acutely right now because of this. I imagine all of this stuff is especially difficult for those seniors who've recently lost their life-partners.

As a Gen X person, although I'm childless I have quite a few friends and family with children who are in their twenties—a lot of them are struggling with recalcitrant parents and children.

In that twitter thread, there was one guy who quipped that, as a proud member of Generation X, he feels he has spent his whole life practicing for this one crucial moment when society asks him to stay home and watch television.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:20 AM on March 19 [19 favorites]

Incidentally I just put 'Domic Raab idiot' into google and it turned up a lot of hits.
See Also
Matt Hancock
Chris Grayling
Liz Truss

The current UK govt really is the golden age of idiocy
posted by fullerine at 10:28 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]

My parents aren't being stubborn exactly, but I was talking to my dad and he asked me if I'd ever heard of the Hong Kong flu. I hadn't. In '68 it killed a million people worldwide, and my dad got it and said he was the sickest he'd ever been. I think he and a lot of older people feel like pandemics are a fact of life, and while he isn't dismissing the need for safety precautions, he doesn't see it as a completely novel happening, like I do. Certainly he doesn't see it as The Thing That Will Change Everything.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:28 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]

I have the office we have set up upstairs. SO set up temp office at dining table. That's been great so far since it stops me having extended lunches when i get distracted by youtube videos, or to given other examples, feature films lasting in excess of two hours which I pretend to myself might somehow be for work.

Its the poor bastards with kids under 10 I feel sorry for. Too old to be swaddled all day (is that what you do with them?), too young for your conscience to let them play PS4 FPS games for 8 hours at a stretch. There's probably an interesting social science project to be done looking at how average screen time changes for the peppa pig crowd over the next 3 months. 'Tarquin, no more than half an hour a day!' 'FFS Tarquin, how can you be bored, I just got you Resident Evil 7?'
posted by biffa at 10:32 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]

9 rolls a week? We went through 10-12 a week at the last high volume cafe I worked at. What even.

Who shits in a café? I would guess most people don't unless they are really caught short. Its rare is what I'm saying.
posted by biffa at 10:36 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]

Ok this is totally OT but throughout this crisis I have been vaguely mystified at the precise 1:1 relationship most dudes seem to have in their head between "using toilet paper" and "taking a shit." For at least half of the population, pissing also necessitates the use of toilet paper, you know!
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:40 AM on March 19 [32 favorites]

I was aware, but volume wise though, cutting out nearly all the shitting, lets' call it M2 & F2, and just leaving F1 is going to make a big difference to overall consumption? I'll be honest, I haven't logged volume by visit/type on a gendered (or non-gendered) basis but there must be a big difference?
posted by biffa at 10:47 AM on March 19

I’m a little calmer today than I was when I posted in this thread last night. I’ve been sick with worry over so many things, as I’m sure most people are, even the people not expressing it.

One thing that has occurred to me is I need to step up my communication with both my parents from once or twice daily to multiple times a day.

When Dad first had his accident, months before the social distancing recommendations, I travelled to be with him and Mom, and we spent 8 hours a day in hospital with Dad and almost 24 hours a day with each other. I was able to do that a few times and now, after having had my 24/7 company for a while, I’m no longer able to come visit and stay with her and see Dad. And now she can’t see Dad either. So, instead of being mad at her (fruitless and unfair) I need to be connecting with her and Dad more. While it’s shitty that Dad is stuck in hospital, both his physical and social needs are being taken care of more than my mom. He has a roommate he likes and the nurses are in and out all day. My mom is alone all day.

I’ve been semi-successful at getting them to embrace texting and FaceTiming, so I’ll try stepping it up. Isolation, while physically healthy for them, is not emotionally healthy for them.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:47 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]

Incidentally, can anyone help me understand wtf is up with the UK?

A lot of Irish people in the UK have been following and sharing the Irish HSE guidelines As much as possible as they’re relatively clear about what you should do, including suggestions about mental health. There’s also some videos and posters about social distancing on the Dept. of Health page.

Their page on At-Risk groups may be helpful - it doesn’t mention "elderly" for example, instead it’s people over 60. (Jaysus, this is the second time today I’ve praised the HSE, generally regarded by everyone as one of the worst health systems in Europe. This is really weird.)
posted by scorbet at 11:01 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]

Whatever you do do not google Miami spring break 2020.

Yes. They are YOLO’ing their little hearts out.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 11:04 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]

Is it time yet for a full and frank discussion on bidets and bum sprayers?

There is a Monsieur Rabelais here to have a word with you about swans’ necks.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:07 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]

My mom prepared better than I did, and I was an early bird. I'm still incredibly worried about my parents. You can do everything right and still catch this.
posted by captain afab at 11:35 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]

Gen Xer here. I feel like I'm living a Goofus and Gallant comic with how my parents and my inlaws differ in their reactions.

My parents: Mid-70s, extremely good health in general and for their age. Taking this extremely seriously -- they're self-isolating, they've stocked up on food and medicine, they're keeping a schedule and calling people regularly. They also happen to be flaming liberals who are big into "our actions affect others!"

My in-laws: Late-70s. Both of them have weakened immune systems. When I called to ask how their prep was going/if they needed help prepping back in February, I got told, "You're overreacting. Nothing's going to happen. It's not going to be here." (Reader, it was already in their county.) I checked in last weekend to ask if they're okay for sheltering in place. "We're not going to do that. We think it's dumb how places are closing in California. Travel right now is cheap, we might go somewhere that's not so alarmist." Guess which cable channel is on 24/7?

I want to scream. My kid's childhood is being permanently shaped by the measures she's taking as part of a society to reduce risk. And it feels like her grandparents are saying, "Fuck you, kid. I don't care how your life has been affected by you trying to keep us from getting sick, I do what I want."
posted by sobell at 11:36 AM on March 19 [19 favorites]

My mom is in full on panic mode (which is just slightly more than her usual everyday panic mode--guess where my anxiety comes from?) but I just picked up some groceries for her since she has a cold and "doesn't want to deal with the stink eye from other people at the store".

Meanwhile, I'm on immunosuppresants lol.

My dad is...currently working on renovating a house or something in PA and was complaining that PA closed Home Depot/Lowes so he has to drive all the way to Westminster MD to get supplies. Which is...*sigh*.

There's additional drama in that my brother's wife is a pediatric nurse who is currently pregnant and the daycare has closed so my mom goes up to babysit Child #1. And brother's wife's mother passed away but is in the Bahamas and can't do a funeral because those have all been cancelled and the wife doesn't know if she can go down there and come back (and is due in May so the airlines probs wouldn't want to let her fly anyways even if she could get the time off work).
posted by sperose at 11:58 AM on March 19 [7 favorites]

I've been lucky in that my parents (who are in their late-70's) have been sensible in that they took this seriously early on, haven't complained about their club closing or being sheltered-in-place, etc.(it probably helps that they are most definitely not Trump/Fox followers). The only thing is that my dad has been having back and (minor) heart issues and has had to go to various doctor offices and hospitals for stress tests, etc. so that's been concerning (they agreed mom shouldn't go with them to reduce her risk of exposure, though that might not help if he picks it up).

I'm supposed to go over to their place this weekend (I picked up some supplies for them, and vice versa), and I'm getting paranoid of somehow inadvertently infecting them (don't seem to be sick, but of course when my temp is up by .5 and my nose gets running from allergies, I start to get paranoid. Not to mention that you can still pass it on if your presymptomatic). Though of course they're still insisting I should come over (and have pointed out that they've already had more risk of exposure from the hospitals than they could get from me). Amazing how simple decisions can take on grave significance nowadays.
posted by gtrwolf at 12:11 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


lots of people shit in cafes. It probably made a difference that it was a single occupancy, the joke was that our location was the pre work shit locale for half the city. Coffee does tend to get everything, um, moving for people, as attested by the horrors I had to clean up on the regular. Horrors which I would expect took more TP, though maybe it was a horror because they didn’t bother using any?

I would just expect that the average adult might not know how much food they need for 2+ weeks if they can’t go out to eat so yeah, buy All The Noodles, but tp is what it is. On topic, I had to have a Serious Talk with my mom who is doing the “drive to multiple places to buy necessities she already has a ton of” and she told me I should be going with her omg no.
posted by zinful at 12:21 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]

Boomer here. I got laid off on the 25th of February. Before that, I dithered about canceling a trip to Italy because “how much more dangerous is it there than here?” A week after I cancelled, Italy shut down. Since my “early retirement” (I was planning on retiring in mid-May), we were doing “normal” amounts of shopping (every other day), but trying to social distance while doing so, and using judicious amounts of hand sanitizer, etc. that changed about March 1st - we’ve done one shopping trip since then and seen virtually no one. We live on a large lot, with a big garden, so time spent outside is well-used. We have friends both younger and older who very much get it. I have a few FB friends who clearly don’t - both Millenials and Boomers.
So glad my own mother isn’t having to live through this. Best to all of you with family who need convincing.
posted by dbmcd at 12:23 PM on March 19 [11 favorites]

I bet most of these people TP hoarding are stand-up wadders. We had a pair of stand-up wadders stay at our flat a couple of years ago - they went through 2 toilet rolls in 36 hours.
posted by zeripath at 12:30 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]

Leaded gas. Got to be.

Hey, I grew up with leaded gas, washed oil off my hands with it, and even got mouthfuls of it while siphoning from one vehicle to another, and I still have the sense not to

What were we talking about? Oh, yeah. I still have the sense not to go and expose myself and others to this plague. I'll probably catch it and die anyway--if I stop posting to Metafilter, you'll know why--but at least I'm trying not to die.

Stubbornness is its own disease.
posted by pracowity at 12:39 PM on March 19 [7 favorites]

The Ram Navami Mela or fair will be held from March 25 to April 2 and is likely to attract millions of devotees...A Sect in S. Korea caused widespread contamination...Brazilian evangelists are calling for their temples to be reopened, the mega ones hold 10,000 people and Bangladesh has just had a prayer meeting for 30,000 people

You forgot the Eastern Orthodox priests who insisted the use of a communal holy spoon "to pour wine-soaked bread crumbs into the mouths of the faithful" was perfectly safe:

The Greek Orthodox Church says inserting a spoonful of sacramental wine into believers’ mouths during communion “clearly cannot cause the spread of disease.” It calls communion an “act of love” that conquers fear, and has vowed to continue celebrating communion “in the certainty that we commune with life and immortality.”

Bulgaria’s Orthodox Church has also assured its followers that it is not possible to become infected with the coronavirus from drinking holy wine. “The sacred mysteries cannot be a vector of contagion or any disease,” Orthodox Patriarch Neofit said in a March 11 letter to Bulgarian clerics and worshippers.

Thankfully, sanity seems to have temporarily prevailed, after news reports of the magical disease-killing spoons started to spread:

The spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians around the world has ordered churches to halt services and rites until the end of March. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I asked parishioners to stay home for their own safety and the safety of others.
posted by mediareport at 1:05 PM on March 19 [7 favorites]

Live action: My mother just called me to ask if I thought she should cancel a cruise for August. I said "yes, there won't be a vaccine by then." She said "Really???" I said yes. She said "well that's extreme" and hung up.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:11 PM on March 19 [19 favorites]

I just want to thank you all for telling your stories because for 2 weeks I was swinging wildly between rage and incapacitating anxiety, and it's such a relief not to be alone with that. My parents were going to get on a 10 hours flight for a massive social event in a remote town with several of their 60-80 y.o. peers for 3 days and then fly back.

BOTH parents have had pneumonia in the past year.

Actual quote "I have been doing things for others my whole life. How come it's never my turn to be selfish?"

And you know what? They're right, they deserve to be selfish... in general. Cut in front of someone in line. Make other people do things for you. Hog all the cake. But maybe don't contribute to a goddamn PANDEMIC with ripple effects impacting everyone you love, mmmmkay? (They canceled 24 hours before the flight, so now my life is just back to full time anxiety with less rage involved. But I think they're still mad at me.)
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 1:32 PM on March 19 [16 favorites]

really you can just tell her the cruise company will likely be out of business by then too.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:33 PM on March 19 [10 favorites]

and presumably the sooner she cancels, the sooner she can get her money back instead of having them be like "lol sorry we're out of business now"
posted by poffin boffin at 1:35 PM on March 19 [9 favorites]

My mother (75 and her 80 year old sister) just came back last Friday from a cruise. Then Mom flew home from Florida (through Newark airport, which has a confirmed case of the virus from someone who works there). She is bemused as to why her pastor got upset that she went in to church to do some routine filing two days after getting home. I'm on the phone with "MOM! STAY HOME FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!" She's grounded for the foreseeable future.
posted by annieb at 1:41 PM on March 19 [10 favorites]

I checked my email, and noticed I sent a lawyerly email to my lawyer mother, documenting my concerns in writing, because of course I did, in late February. ::sigh:: But I am really appreciating this thread, because while I figured the article would resonate, I didn't realize how supportive the discussion would feel as I continue to encourage my parents to #StayTheFuckHome (FPP).

In the meantime, via the ongoing Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health coronavirus news updates, there is a Morning Joe video that maybe could help? Top Doctor Calls For National Quarantine (MSNBC, Mar. 17, 2020)
Testing for the coronavirus is still “way behind the curve in terms of where we need to be,” according to Ashish Jha, HGHI director and K.T. Li Professor of Global Health. As of March 17 there were roughly 4,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., but experts suspect that the actual numbers are in the 30,000 to 40,000 range. “Our hospitals and our emergency rooms are not ready,” Jha said. He outlined two choices: “We can either have a national quarantine now—two weeks—get a grip on where things are and then reassess. Or we can not, wait another week, and when things look really terrible, be forced into it, and that’s going to last much longer. Many more people will die.”
Maybe that's a possible approach - let's err on the side of caution for now, just for two weeks, and then reassess. We know better than to expect that this will be better then, but maybe it is more about getting everyone to be as safe as possible between now and when the need for precautions are even more obvious.
posted by katra at 2:03 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]

This is relevant to my interests.
posted by TrishaU at 2:47 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]

I bet most of these people TP hoarding are stand-up wadders. We had a pair of stand-up wadders stay at our flat a couple of years ago - they went through 2 toilet rolls in 36 hours.

I've had houseguests who used alarmingly large amounts of toilet paper (and without clogs! How??) but I never stopped to consider the mechanics of how they were actually wiping.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:01 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]

Oh hey, more time to share stories of my Orthodox Christian upbringing!

During the AIDS crisis, there was a lot of worries about the communion spoon. This isn't like Catholic churches where you get a wafer on the tongue and a thimble of wine. This is a different thing entirely. Allow me to explain:
About two hours before communion is given out, the priest takes a loaf of bread (prosforo, we called it) and begins praying over it. There is a whole set of symbols stamped into the top of it with a wooden seal before it is baked, so there are all these bits that get cut out in various sections while the priest sort of quietly intones various parts of the crucifixion story to himself. As an altar boy I'd sometimes be on duty to stand by for this and fetch all the things needed, and it was pretty dull stuff.

The important cut-out bits of the loaf get set aside in this dish with a star-shaped cover (the famous "body of Christ"), and then later in the service it's mixed with wine (the famous "blood of Christ", which usually tastes like port) and boiling water (which I believe represents the fluid that escaped from Christ's lungs when the soldier stabbed him with a spear). It's all in a gold chalice with a very flat gold spoon. The priest ladles up tiny warm wine-soaked morsels of bread on this spoon, and puts it in your mouth. You then pick up a tiny piece of what's left of the loaf (if it's a church that does big loaves), or you might have sponsored a whole tiny loaf to go back in the altar in memory of someone. If you're doing it according to the stricter rules, you've been fasting since sundown the night before, which can lead to some fainting.
So here was this AIDS panic, and the answer for this situation was simply "medical science has proven that HIV cannot be transmitted by saliva". But there was definitely a couple of stories going on at different levels of faith in the church, that basically went like this:
  1. The eucharist cannot transmit AIDS, because it's boiling water and alcohol and isn't gold anti-bacterial somehow?
  2. The eucharist cannot transmit AIDS, because it is a sacrament and literally the body and blood of Christ
At campfires, we used to be told tales of holy priests who discovered that they'd accidentally put iodine in the eucharist instead of wine, but they'd done the whole deal so you couldn't throw it away. So this priest drank all this iodine and lived. We were meant to repeat this as a tale of, if not a miracle, divine providence.

So when I read that article, all of this twisted logic (which happened to lead to reasonable results in the 80s) flashed up from my memory and I saw where it would lead here. It's probably something that was hard to fight because people who defended their position could shift arguments pretty quickly.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 3:02 PM on March 19 [13 favorites]

A friend just called me to ask if we have enough TP to keep us going here, as he has spare and can give us some if we need it.

See. There is hope for the human race.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 3:05 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]

I've had houseguests who used alarmingly large amounts of toilet paper (and without clogs! How??)

So that they don't slip and hurt themselves on the tiled bathroom floor.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 3:08 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]

really you can just tell her the cruise company will likely be out of business by then too.

I did that, via email. No answer. Will keep you informed. :)
posted by warriorqueen at 3:18 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]

I am proud of my mom who said, “I know people are drastically changing their lives and they’re doing it for people like me, so I have to respect that.”
She remembers polio all too well- both her parents had it and she and her siblings were among the first to get the vaccine. I’ve known about Jonas Salk and “you can’t patent the sun” all my life. I think it was about 10 days ago when I talked to my mom and asked her if this is like the polio epidemic (her answer: no, that was worse. But this is very scary). I do think that conversation might have helped put her into “self isolation” mode a bit faster, because it put it into perspective for all of us.
It’s hard. My 2 kids are used to seeing their grandparents at least once a week. My dad is my son’s best friend and I know they’ll desperately miss each other. I’m sad for them.
posted by areaperson at 3:34 PM on March 19 [14 favorites]

Amused, because my efforts to convince my mom to be careful paid off. They are not only isolating themselves, but have also convinced their friend, Deborah, not to go on a cruise. (Not the same Deborah as the article, but I'm feeling a kinship all the same.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 3:36 PM on March 19 [16 favorites]

Convincing my mom was not the problem. The opposite is the problem. I just had to stop my mother from BLEACHING the potatoes that came in with our grocery order, and when I posited that maybe, just maybe water was enough, she tried to counter with dish detergent and when I pointed out that we've been self-isolating correctly and that maybe she was going overboard she accused me of wanting her to die. SO now I have to dry the VERY WET potatoes before they rot while my mother is angrily looking up produce washing videos in order to prove me wrong and is studiously not speaking to me. I swear to god my mother's (normally reasonable) anxiety turned up to 11 and aimed at me is going to kill me before any virus does.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:23 PM on March 19 [16 favorites]

I'm sorry, but seriously, I've asked this once recently, can we please stop toilet paper–shaming people? It might seem funny and harmless, but it's upsetting to me and probably others who are similarly embarrassed to speak up.

I will be frank and graphic with you, if this will help everyone decide to shut up about this. I have a large butt. Like my long hair, I grew it myself. My mother has a large butt; this is hereditary. It's the shape of my body, as an adult Jewish woman, and I don't need any extra shame about that. Plus, I also have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which I take medication for to control the irregular periods it causes, and some kind of polyp, which seems to be making them more irregular. As I mentioned here, I can't even get a call back from a surgeon to do anything about it right now, due to health care being at capacity during the pandemic. This has meant that for the last 11 weeks, I have bled extra often—like as in every other week for the past 11 weeks, I've had my period. That means dealing with a lot of blood output, and as most women probably understand, that also can mean digestive difficulties. And all of this is probably being made worse by the fact that social-distancing practices mean I'm not going out as much, because exercise is also one of the things that helps control symptoms of PCOS. And no, for multiple reasons, I'm not going to get a bidet.

I'm not asking for advice. I'm asking you to stop making fun of people for buying extra toilet paper. For me, this is hormonal and genetic, and I didn't ask for any of it, nor did I do anything to bring it on. It's bad enough that my ex used to shake his head over my toilet-paper use, or that I always feel on edge when I'm a houseguest because of it, or that it took me years to even get diagnosed with PCOS because even doctors would look at me and tell me I needed to lose weight, as a precursor to treatment, just blind to the fact that I had a hormonal condition that was causing the weight gain, not the other way around. Now all of you are talking about it too. Please. stop. this. now. I am begging you. I have tough skin, but it's just another microaggression in a world of hurt right now. This hurts my feelings and makes me upset, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who's silently put up with it while the world mocks people who have need of more toilet paper than average.

It's so embarrassing to have to ask this, and to have this in my account's history. But I'm not putting this under a sock-puppet account. I'm putting it under my main handle, in my own name, because I'm sure I'm not the only one, and it makes me upset that everyone has decided to take this as an easy target, something to tut-tut and shake their heads about and say, "I'll never understand why people..."

Yes, you probably will never understand it. So stop. Stop making hurtful assumptions about people whose needs for toilet paper are different than yours. And may you never have to bleed from between your legs every other week for 3 months straight.
posted by limeonaire at 4:25 PM on March 19 [66 favorites]

Separately, and more on topic for the thread: I am thankful that my mother has taken seriously social distancing and largely stayed at home recently. She did go to a fairly small church service this weekend, where she played music, but otherwise, she's doing what she needs to do.

And I'm glad my father is long since dead of cancer, gone a year and a half now, and not in the nursing home he was in for several years, no longer at risk.

I hope you all can convince your parents to do the right thing. Thanks for trying.
posted by limeonaire at 4:28 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]

Thank you, limeonaire. It’s pretty fucking weird to read comments that seem to be totally ignorant of someone like me with a period and IBS-D (which Jesus Christ I’ve had to disclose twice now in one week on Metafilter), or even folks who pee frequently (you know that’s a side effect of a LOT of common medications) and therefore might use more toilet paper than others. We’re not doing it because we don’t know how to use toilet paper...

I use as little as I can, but I’ve had way too many people in my life (actually it’s been 100% men) seem to think that instead of actually using the toilet paper as intended I’m just wasting wads of it. Like I said on a previous thread where we talked about bathroom habits and why bidets don’t work for me, can we keep in mind that we all have varying bodily functions?

And yes I have been to a doctor and consulted with a dietitian, etc, I still probably go through more toilet paper than Metafilter has deemed acceptable.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 4:53 PM on March 19 [18 favorites]

My mom was like “whatever, I’ve had a good run, you don’t live forever” I was all WOMAN YOU WILL BE DRAGGING YOUR HALF DEAD ASS ON A WALKER UNTIL YOURE 100, THINK OF THE GRANDKIDSSSSSSSS
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:54 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]

posted by theora55 at 9:23 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]

Well my parents are back from Costa Rica - apparently on their way out their Lyft driver got a call saying the airport was closed, but they said to go anyway and they had no problems. "I guess we picked the right time to leave!" they said glibly. I had to ask them to tell me later about the fun parts of their trip, and they chastised me for getting caught up in the "hysteria".

I think I talked them into laying low for at least a little while, by which point hopefully they'll be proven right (and the entire state of California is wrong) but if not that, maybe at least they'll come around to the gravity of things.
posted by aubilenon at 9:47 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]

My parents are dead and I am childless so I have been having this conversation in my head.

Elderly should not go out.
I am NOT that elderly, I'm only 67.

People with asthma and diabetes should self isolate.
MY asthma and diabetes are WELL controlled.

So far, I am not leaving the house but I'm lucky the city closed the Barton Springs swimming pool or I would be SO tempted to swim.

limeonaire, you have my sincere admiration.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:58 AM on March 20 [6 favorites]

As per this AskMe, yes I have IBS. Yes, this is a problem with the current obsession with toilet paper supply. This is my normal. This is not your normal.
Back to the scheduled program... I meet several criteria for keeping myself at home. My kiddos and I have seen each other once this week (The Great Toilet Paper Hand-off of 2020!) but they both work so they will be messaging me and calling.
I am staying away from other relatives, given their ages and health issues.
posted by TrishaU at 4:41 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]

I am late 30s, isolated with my early 70s mom who has some known risk factors. I told her about this thread last night, and she was all "People are ridiculous. Everybody stay home." This morning, it was, "Do you think it's really bad if I go to the grocery store?"

We're taking things one day at a time, apparently.
posted by sk932 at 9:05 AM on March 20 [7 favorites]

I was wondering the other day whether one of the results of the Great Toilet Paper Shortage will be a lot of folks realizing they have undiagnosed IBS or Crohn's, actually.
posted by nonasuch at 9:41 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]

My mother is one of those people who always bitched about everyone using too much toilet paper. You want me to have a wet ass, then? Ew? I nth limeonaire about not shaming people because they have bodily functions. Hell, I'm feeling queasy every morning (not that I want to admit to this either....no, it ain't pregnancy) and then I feel guilty because my body decided it wanted to poop a lot even though I am hardly eating anything at all and God forbid I use that toilet paper. And I live alone and get triple sized 1 ply rolls, so I shouldn't be running out for months as is.

Also, tried a bidet once. Like everything else in life, it was clearly calibrated toward the male asshole. Not impressed with having water land where it landed. Not getting that "clean" feeling where it was supposed to be going.

In other news, my grandboss just announced that she's moving to Ohio to be with her grandchildren. WHAT PART OF YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO FUCKING TRAVEL DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?!?!?! WHAT PART OF YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO SEE YOUR FAMILY DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?!?!? ALSO WE LIVE IN CALIFORNIA SO YOU'RE REALLY NOT SUPPOSED TO BE GOING ANYWHERE NOW!!!!!! This is the same woman who headed off to Washington to visit the other grandchildren a few weeks ago as well.

Not that I can say that, mind you.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:18 AM on March 20 [5 favorites]

I was wondering the other day whether one of the results of the Great Toilet Paper Shortage will be a lot of folks realizing they have undiagnosed IBS or Crohn's, actually.

Three months of snacking at my current levels is more likely to lead to a diabetes diagnosis.

Fear is stalking this land. For the schools have just broken up. For five months.
posted by biffa at 10:24 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]

Yeah, my stress eating is back with a vengeance. Or more likely, my rationalizing eating crap because ~gesturing broadly~.

My mom was born in 1945, and I was born in 1962, so we are at our respective ends of the baby boom. She was acting pretty casual about it, and my stepfather (an incomplete quadriplegic who can't really cough) was still going to the mall to wheel around in his wheelchair for exercise (!!!).

"Well, the flu kills 14K people every year and no one goes crazy over it." I said, "Mom, this is not the flu. We have no vaccine, and no immunity, and it's tremendously contagious. We have to take it seriously." Dad's caregiver quit because Dad won't stop going to his noon AA meetings and the aforementioned mall. That guy's a jerk in other ways but I totally understand his position on this one - he has a wife and a toddler.

At the same time: my husband has gone deep down the rabbit hole of "Martial law will be declared before Monday, so stock up on food." Rumors are flying about National Guard movements and closing interstates and ... wow. What was that thing in Texas 10 years ago when people were convinced the gummint was going to round folks up into empty Walmarts - Jade Green or some such? Yeah. Reader: we have fifty (50) pounds of rice. He wants me to buy a large bag of dried beans. He does not eat either of those things.

Would someone tell me how I ended up with a libertarian gun nut, please? I didn't marry one. Is this something that some white men go through in midlife?

Jesus, no wonder I'm stress eating.
posted by corvikate at 11:48 AM on March 20 [15 favorites]

^^^corvikate; I've started calling stress eating Fattening the Curves...
posted by mightshould at 12:07 PM on March 20 [15 favorites]

OK, 62 year old boomer here. We are in hermit mode. My wife is an anxious sort anyway and this crisis has her flaming out fourteen times a day. She's borderline diabetic and half the time is convinced this thing will kill her. Then she reverses and says she will beat it. Welcome to my world.

It's odd, my small town in a very red state is being proactive. All the various boards are meeting over the phone or Zoom, our small Lutheran church will stream Sunday and Lenten services, and the school got ready for going digital before the order came down from the governor (who, despite being Repub, has done nothing but been right on top of this).

We do not have children but damn, we had so many moments when our mothers were alive and in their 80s and CONSTANTLY making the worst kind of decisions. I cannot begin to enumerate all the stupid shit I saw these two women pull in their last decade and to do so would make me pissy for the rest of the day. And if you guys think that Boomers hoard shit, you have never had to clean up after those that came out of the Great Depression and kept EVERYTHING.
posted by Ber at 12:10 PM on March 20 [5 favorites]

There is a chance I might die of curlywurly poisoning. Just opened the last Belgian beer in the house. Maybe the county.

Pubs have been shut and Boris may have turned socialist.
posted by biffa at 12:24 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

My "back-to-earth-movement" mom and dad are very sensibly hunkering down on their property, and well away from any Covid vectors, but they passed on the rumor about Trump declaring martial law and using the national guard to enforce a 2-week "national shutdown" so we should go get more supplies now. If anyone has any refutation or source for this rumor, that would be good -_-
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 12:24 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

Hey folks, friendly request to be conscious of equating overeating with diabetes (or having diabetes as something people bring on themselves) or talking about how getting fat in quarantine is something you fear. Being fat is something that comes with a ton of stigma and access issues, so I get why you're scared of it, but fat folks don’t need to be reminded how terrible you find us or how you think being fat is a personal choice.

In addition, some of us are already fat and also have anxiety right along with you. People who turn to food for comfort right now are using a completely valid self-soothing tool that's fairly benign in the short term, and evening out our consumption long-term isn’t going to be helped by heaping more anxiety and shame on top of that behavior.

Some people already have diabetes and are really fucking scared right now. It’s not something to joke about.

Thanks in advance for taking this into consideration. We’re all having a hard time right now and turning to this community for support, please be conscious of how you talk about your fellow Mefites.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 12:46 PM on March 20 [22 favorites]

[A few comments removed; let's try and keep in mind that everyone's coming from a different place and be gentle with each other in both our assumptions about other people's personal contexts and in responding to perceived slights. Everybody is stressed and navigating a hard situation and we'll get more mileage out of trying to be in this together than by squaring off.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:26 PM on March 20 [10 favorites]

My dad called my sister on the phone, and when she answered, he started fake coughing as a joke. Sis was not amused.

Thanks for this post. VERY RELATABLE!
posted by sucre at 2:20 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]

She doesn't, however, actually see herself as old, because so many of her friends are even older than her.

Yes, this is a big part of it I believe for my mother (70 years old). Like, she was in complete denial about being part of the age bracket of people who need to be careful about this. I finally talked her down from doing her usual grocery shopping/running errands, and yet, she still planned to drive 4 hours to visit my 98 year old grandmother. And she's all, what harm is there if I'm driving? And I'm like, so you're going to go that entire way without stopping? You're still staying in a hotel! You're driving from one area with significant number of cases to another! And then you're coming back! For no good reason! My grandmother lives in a care facility. She has family that lives very near by.

Frankly, I spent my whole childhood playing the parent role, but my mother is definitely a worrier/highly anxious person, so it was surprising for her to be so laid back about this.

It's just like, everything else is so stressful right now. I do not need to be having these arguments. I can't believe I need to have these arguments. And my mother isn't even a Fox news watching type! She's been following all these news stories! I just can't even anymore.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:48 PM on March 20 [8 favorites]

Metafilter: clearly calibrated toward the male asshole
posted by away for regrooving at 11:14 PM on March 20 [6 favorites]

My dad (ex-M.D.) has gone full doomsday, but I'm sitting with daily-updated assessments of how likely my in-laws are to survive. Not that I can tell my kids why I have this weird emphasis on calling their grandparents.
posted by away for regrooving at 11:19 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

Fyi, i got a reuters article saying the national quarantine was fake
Passed that along to my family.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 6:18 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]

> Gen Xer here. I feel like I'm living a Goofus and Gallant comic with how my parents and my inlaws differ in their reactions.

Same, and well put. One set is in their 80s, very healthy, and taking it seriously. The other set is in their 60s; one of the set has serious, relevant health conditions, and their spouse is still going to work even though they're financially fine.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:54 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]

I’m trying to find a way for my in-laws to play bridge online with their friends. Has this it been cracked by someone else?
posted by bq at 8:29 AM on March 22

Google online bridge games for a start.

Probably a generic card deck on Tabletop Simulator or on Vassal. Not sure how tech-literate your in-laws are. EDIT: Bridge/Hearts module on Vassal confirmed. Not a TTS person, so unsure about that one.
posted by Windopaene at 11:30 AM on March 22 [1 favorite]

I signed my mom up for an Instacart account, so I can have groceries sent to her from her favorite Jewell supermarket in suburban Chicago. It's gone well, for the most part. But, sadly, there are no paper products available at the Oswego stores, so I'm now in the weird position of trying to figure out how to get toilet paper for her so she doesn't FORGET that she's supposed to be staying at home and just pop out to some random store, that might not have it anyway.
posted by answergrape at 7:05 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]

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