Overheard on Zoom: Co-Workers Talking About My ‘Weird’ Habits

Why Should Our Daughter Be Left Out of Pandemic Playtime?

Why Should Our Daughter Be Left Out of Pandemic Playtime?

Why Should Our Daughter Be Left Out of Pandemic Playtime?

We live in a suburb in the Midwest with few Covid-19 cases. While we obey our state’s shelter-in-place order, the neighborhood kids play close together for an hour each day. One family, who are friends, asked that our 10-year-old daughter keep away from this group. They are concerned that my wife, an emergency doctor on the front lines of this pandemic, increases the risk of exposure for our daughter — which increases the risk for their kids. These same friends have lawn signs that read: “Thank You, Healthcare Heroes!” Am I wrong to feel our friends have turned their backs on us?


I wish I could be more sympathetic, but all of you are wrong! Despite your claim, you are not obeying your state’s shelter-in-place order. Neighborhood kids playing close together, even for an hour, is not safe, especially given the frequency of asymptomatic pediatric coronavirus cases.

So, safety first! While the order is in place, keep your daughter indoors or supervise her when she’s outdoors. If she complains that other kids can play together, explain that keeping her safe is your most important job. Even after the state order is lifted, make sure you agree with your governor’s call. Have Covid-19 cases and deaths declined steadily in your area for several weeks, for instance?

Then you and your neighbors can discuss the safety precautions your wife takes to protect herself and your family from contracting the virus. I’m sorry you’re hurt. But what makes your wife a hero is her willingness to assume greater risk of illness. How can you expect neighbors (even foolish ones who don’t practice social distancing) to overlook that? For now, organize play dates for your daughter on Zoom.

My family was always close with our first cousins. About 20 years ago, they stopped all communication with us. We had no idea why. There was no fight. We went through the stages of a deep relationship redefining itself: perplexity, then anger, then resignation. My issue: I have a portrait of my aunt I would like to give to her oldest granddaughter. They were close. But I don’t want my cousins to think this is an attempt to renew our family relationship. There’s too much water under the bridge for that. Should I offer the painting?


Now this is a welcome change: Normally, people ask me for permission to be mean, but you want to do something kind. You hesitate only because you worry your actions may undermine a feud you never understood. (I wonder: Did any of the “stages” of redefining your family relationship include calling a cousin and asking, “What gives?”)

Families rarely act in lock step. I bet there was no vote by your cousins to ice you out. No, our most impulsive relatives act, and the rest of us tend to fall in line through inertia. Send the portrait to your cousin with a nice note about her closeness to her grandmother. If it’s true, add: “I’ve missed seeing you. I hope you’re well.”

During our quarantine, a local group has organized a fun game of trivia every night on Zoom. My husband and I play as a team since we’re quarantined together. After we won a couple of nights in a row, a friend suggested we play individually to make it fairer. My husband was upset by this. Several couples play as teams. So, rather than break up the band, I’ve been throwing occasional questions to let others win. But it feels weird to be doing this. What do you think?


Games are most fun when anyone can win. The exception: fan favorites on winning sprees, like the Chicago Bulls during Michael Jordan’s heyday. (Props to “The Last Dance” from the least likely viewer of a sports documentary ever!) There probably isn’t a huge fan base for your local Zoom trivia games, though.

Stop playing with your husband if victory in inevitable. And stop losing intentionally. That’s just inevitability of a different stripe. Play on your own and tell your win-hungry husband to chill. Everyone deserves an honest shot at being the champ.

Why am I annoyed when friends pay to the penny for grocery items? During the pandemic, I’ve shopped for others (who have no need to count pennies). If they owe me $17.18, they give me $17 and one dime, one nickel and three pennies. I always round up to the next dollar. It bothers me when others don’t.


So, coins annoy you. I can see that, I guess. But following your logic, isn’t a $10 bill plus a $5 bill plus two singles also kind of annoying? Wouldn’t a $20 bill be simpler — or a crisp $50?

No, I suspect it’s the nit-picking accounting between friends that’s bothering you. Still, if this is your worst annoyance at a time when people are flagrantly flouting (and even protesting) sensible public health precautions, count yourself lucky.

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.

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