Lessons from the Princess Bride in Covid Times

by Elysian Magazine


by Laurie Bogart Wiles

If you have children or grandchildren and school closures or an abbreviated school had kept your children at home, you may be surprised to hear that many parents plan to continue homeschooling even after the pandemic ends.  In the beginning, most parents seemingly went berserk trying to juggle working from home with their kids around them 24/7.  At one point I thought my daughter-in-law was on the brink of a meltdown managing my son’s business and five children under the age of 12—four of whom are school-aged.  But as time went by, it was amazing to see how parents, like my son and daughter-in-law, managed to organize their time and get it all done.

What two-income pre-COVID families have come to learn from COVID is that now they can have it all.  By working full- or part-time from home they are now able to spend much more quality time with their children.  According to the Pew Research Center, “Specifically, fathers are now more likely to say they spend the right amount of time with their children than they were before the pandemic when a majority said they spent too little time. What’s more, not since those “Ozzie and Harriet” days of the 1950s have more families been eating meals together, at the table.  In fact, many families are often cooking together and using fresh ingredients to make healthy meals.

Yes, it takes organization, patience, and rearranging the furniture.  It also takes a concerted effort by each family member to maintain harmony at home.  If you’re working from home, have a designated workplace where you can close the door.  That’s the signal to the family that you don’t want to be disturbed unless it’s an emergency.  Explain why it is important for you to not be interrupted.  Then, at the end of work, turn off the computer (stop checking emails!) and give them your full attention.

Reshuffle household chores.  You don’t have to do it all anymore!  Now that everyone is home much more than pre-COVID, even young children will benefit from bringing down their laundry, keeping their room clean, and pitching in with K.P. after meals.

Finally, don’t get stressed out. Take some time for yourself at the end of each day. Whether it’s gardening, reading a book, or taking a long, hot bath, it’s just as important you take care of yourself as caring for your spouse and children.

To the point, there’s a wonderful scene in that marvelous film, The Princess Bride, in which the evil prince Humperdinck has ordered Wesley, a/k/a the Dread Pirate Roberts, true love of Princess Buttercup, to be tortured on “the machine” by his menacing henchman, Count Rugen, the Six-Fingered Man. Rugen and the Prince are standing by an old, gnarled tree where a secret door leads to the torture chamber.  The Count asks the Prince if he is coming down to watch.

The Prince says: “Tyrone (Count Rugen’s first name), you know how much I love watching you work.  But I’ve got my country’s five hundredth anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder (over which he rules, so he can declare war on the neighboring kingdom) to frame for it. I’m swamped.”

Whereupon Rugen responds, with sincere feeling, “Get some rest—if you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.”

Get some rest.

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