Tina and Michael Best appreciate how their family bonds have strengthened due to the pandemic. Tina, an art teacher at Cincinnati Public Schools, welcomed time during the stay at home order to spend with Max, 8 and Eleanor, 6. Usually, after giving her job 100% all day, she’d be tired and didn’t feel up to the same 100% for her family. Mike, an industrial process automation software designer with Honeywell, was happy his commute was reduced to a few seconds. He gets to have lunch with Tina and the kids several days a week, instead of being away for 10–11 hours every day.
Tina and Mike also observed that with the kids sequestered away from school and social activities, they’ve grown closer to each other. “This is good for them,” Tina notes, “They help each other and they’re best friends. Their relationship is stronger than ever, which is reassuring as a parent.”
All the silver linings don’t eradicate the fact that the kids were bouncing off the walls. Summer didn’t come a minute too soon. Tina and Mike have experimented with a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities, some educational sessions, quiet downtime in their rooms or a little bit of TV, looking for the perfect balance. Tina shares that Max and Eleanor have been helping out more around the house since everyone is there constantly and more needs to be done. “They have a couple new chores they enjoy. I went upstairs last night to put Max to bed and he was reorganizing his dresser. I said to him, ‘Oh, Max, I love you so much!’”
Mike was raised Jewish, and Tina Catholic, but she was turned away by Catholicism’s strictness. After years of spiritual exploration, when the kids were born, she came to believe that Judaism provided the atmosphere and philosophy she was looking for, for her and her family. “I love how welcoming and accepting everyone is at Wise Temple. It makes me feel warm inside,” she says, a smile lighting up her face.
The pandemic summer has helped Tina feel ready for both kids to go to Jewish summer camp. This past winter when the subject of GUCI came up, she wasn’t sure she could send them off for two weeks with no parental visits. “They were ready, but it was hard for me. I was worried, ‘Are you sure you won’t miss me?’ Now we’re all ready!” Mike laughs, saying “I grew up in Cleveland, and my parents wanted find a camp far enough away that I couldn’t call and come home if I g homesick, so they shipped me 500 miles away to Wisconsin.”
Before the pandemic, Tina was creating replicas of famous paintings on rocks and hiding them in the neighborhood for her students to find. The Bests live two blocks from the school where she teaches, so she and her students are neighbors. The rock painting became a form of therapy helping Tina get through the pandemic. When the Wise Temple Family Engagement group announced the Wise Rocks program of painting rocks to place around the playground, Tina’s response was, “On it! Got this. Piece of cake.” Tina and the kids got busy creating rocks for the playground.
Her rocks have become a random act of kindness. Mike explains, “Besides the rocks for the temple playground she’s been putting rocks outside our house. We live in a pedestrian friendly place. She’s put out more than 50 rocks over the last couple of months just to see the kids and families pick them up and take them home. It always puts smiles on their faces.”
Mike says although the past five months have felt like five years, they are thankful for their family and all they have now more than ever. Tina adds, “We are so fortunate to be where we are as a family and I try every day to remember how lucky we are.”
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