Working From Home With Children: My Coronavirus Challenge in Japan

It feels like forever, but I’ve only been teleworking from home for a little over two weeks. And to be honest, it’s not that bad. When it’s time to jump on the computer and engage in a video conference call, I’d leisurely throw on a button up shirt and get right to it. When I’m not on call, I’m prepping my material to make things run smoother in the future.

I’m extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to work from home.

Where I come from, many people are being furloughed or laid off entirely. Conditions in The United States are spiraling downward for its working class citizens. While some cash relief has been distributed, it’s merely a band-aid used to cover a deeper hole in our social support system. More should be done to support the average American during this time in crisis, but our leaders choose to do what’s most convenient for them.

Luckily, Japan’s been one of the more well-off countries during this global health crisis.

Japan was one of the first countries to encounter the new coronavirus. Quarantining the now infamous cruise liner, ported in Yokohama, dominated the headlines. That was in February, when we were all still going to work and gossiping about its implications. Eventually, COVID-19 case numbers rose in the surrounding area, causing the Japanese Government to shutdown schools early for Spring break. Major events were cancelled and citizens were encouraged to exercise extreme caution in public.

And still, life went on in Japan.
I made a video about it, linked here.

Many Japanese companies are reluctant to initiate teleworking protocols. If you thought Japan was the technologically advanced nation you’ve seen in the movies and animation,
you’re sorely mistaken. It might sound crazy, but the concept of working online is extremely new to Japanese culture, the same goes for online school. I’ve spoken to many Japanese folks who simply go to coffee shops to “work from home”, which defeats the entire purpose of the initiative.

As a family man, my challenges working from home comes in the form of two small children.

Now that a state of emergency has been declared in the country, my children are no longer in day care. With my wife also working from home, we have to tag team our little monsters to make it through the day; we have one infant and one preschooler. It’s a blessing to be able to be home with our kids, but doesn’t mean it’s easy. You see, we fall under the American Department of Defense guidelines. So as much as we would love to take our kids to the park, we’re not authorized to do so. In no uncertain terms, we’re under house arrest. The intended goal is to isolate us from the infectious Japanese public. For our safety of course, or for national security? I forgot.

It’s a weird world we live in when Japanese people are granted more freedom and liberties than Americans.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand what’s at stake here.

I just have this weird feeling that military leaders are acting over-zealously in response to Captain Crozier blowing the lid on their mismanagement. Most families out here don’t mind. While Americans in Yokosuka have limited experiences of life in Japan, my family is more involved in the community, especially my daughter. We don’t have a standalone television in the house and limit here time in front the computer watching Netflix. That creates a challenge in engaging a preschooler while being mandated to avoid other family and friends.

I feel like a bad dad when I’m out with my children and I have to actively prevent my eldest from interacting with other children, both Japanese and American.

If we don’t follow the rules, the admiral coronavirus will get us.
They’ve banned human behavior. I think they can do better. I know they can, but they won’t.

I worry most about this isolation will do to her, and her ability to connect with other children. I worry that my daughter’s Japanese will fade.

Like I said before, I’m not blind to the severity of this crisis. More Americans have succumbed to the virus than on September 11th, 2001. That’s insane, but we shouldn’t let this scare us into submission. People will use that fear and weaponize it for their own gain. It’s important to challenge our leaders. What are you going to do to help us? What are you going to do to prevent this from happening in the future? What’s our exit strategy to going back to normal? This goes not just for the folks in Yokosuka, but the entirety of my country. We need more than an isolation order. We need a path to the future.

Hiding in place and waiting for a vaccine that may never come, or some other miracle?
That’ll take us a few years.

There are plenty of articles you can read that perfectly predicted this event would occur. Scientists saw this coming a mile away. COVID-19 was not a surprise. They (our government) knew this would happen and did nothing to prepare for it. And if the science is correct (which it probably is), this is just the beginning. Whenever we overcome this crisis, another will follow. We’re setting a precedent for what we’re willing to accept in the future: breadcrumbs and lazy response policies.

Are we going to beef up our medical system?
If this pandemic has revealed anything, it’s that what we’ve been doing isn’t working.

I’ve been told I come from the richest country in the world. Unfortunately, we’re really good at killing people, but not very good at saving people’s lives.
We have mass graves in New York City, the same place where 9/11 happened.
WTF America?

P.S.

I’m not against the concept of stay-at-home/self-isolation/self-quarantine/remain-in-place.
I’ve edited and reworked this post for the past few days, wanting to get my thoughts out but not wanting to come off too fringe. I wrote this post long before protests broke out in The States. I’m aware of it’s effectiveness and importance, but you can’t ban human behavior. Social distancing is a privilege for those with occupations or the financial stability to support that kind of sacrifice.
I have family that still have to go to work. I have friends who’re being affected by this virus in the worst possible ways. And I can’t help but be a little upset at the entirety of this mess we’re all living in. We need to do better than what we’ve been doing. For them and for all of us.

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