Last week, my four-year-old granddaughter sent me a picture of herself right before she went outside to social distance.

“Do you like wearing your mask?” I say, during our Skype story time chat.

“Yeah,” she says. “But if you breathe, it makes you hot, so you have to not breathe.”

Short pause for contemplation.

“Yeah, it’s a bummer,” I say, grateful that ‘bummer’ still applies even if it does date me. “But one of these days, the virus will be gone. And then, you’ll have all these funny stories to tell about how you lived through it.”

“No,” she says. “I’m going to forget the Quarantine. I want to forget the whole thing.”

And that’s her truth. Which may materialize because she is only four. I remember a few snippets of life before turning five, but not many. Most of those early memories rise after the trigger of an emotional swell; the details only coming into view after I recall the warmth of the sunlight, or the secrecy of the dark.

I understand why my granddaughter wants to forget this time of Quarantine. But she may not have a choice. Talk to any of the children who lived through the Depression or the Holocaust. My husband’s earliest memory happened when he was three. His parents had recently installed new carpet in the living room. Three-year-old Jack snatched a tube of his mom’s red lipstick and smeared it all over the white carpet. He hid in the corner. His father peered over the wingback chair to scold him. My husband believes he remembers the incident, not because he got in trouble, but because his dad died shortly after. Remembering was the only way for him to hold on to his father.

Prediction— my granddaughter will remember more than she desires about this time of Quarantine. It will become the story she tells to her kids the way my parents talked about hiking fifty miles up hill to school each day. And that got me thinking about the man who raised me. The memories I have of my father are a mixed bag of pain and laughter. I’m mortified by the amount of time it’s taken me to untangle myself from his overbearing presence. But through the years, I’ve found a few of his maxims have proven themselves to be true.

The greatest challenges of a man’s life reveal his true nature.

He offered this nugget to me after his neighbor suffered a stroke. My father assumed they shared the same mindset, and expected his friend to tackle the prescribed physical therapy with the vigor of a Spartan Warrior and recover asap. His neighbor did not rise to the challenge; he gave up and died.

My father’s maxim popped into my head last year when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately for us, his true nature— the Irish humor and Lucky Charm outlook he often tortures me with— allowed him to make a speedy and complete recover. I’ve never been more grateful for his Irish good humor.

I never imagined the maxim would return in 2020. But then, I never expected a health crisis to overtake the world. And so, ever since the conversation with my granddaughter, I’ve been paying extra attention to how people are behaving in this time of Quarantine.

Industriousness is the word that comes to mind.

Sure, a lot of binge streaming happened early on, and may still be underway in certain pockets of the world. But overall, a surge of crafting, puzzling, book reading and zoom meetups are growing. And let me not forget the canning, house repairs and baking and cooking and baking and cooking and baking— which is making it harder for me to get hold of the unsweetened chocolate needed for my writing sessions— and the current favorite: planting. I may scream if another picture of a seedling shows up on Instagram.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m happy people are getting back to nature with walks and hiking, and digging in the dirt so they’ll have plenty of veggies and herbs for their obsessive cooking, or the flowers that will eventually brighten their sheltering-in-place abode. I think it’s grand. Truly, I do. But I’m not doing any of the above.

So, of course, my immediate reaction— What’s wrong with me? Why aren’t I getting on the bandwagons of industriousness?— Because you’re writing and revising the novel.

The greatest challenges of a man’s life reveal his true nature.

This pandemic is a challenge, for sure. Adjustments have needed to be made. But I wouldn’t say it’s one of the greatest challenges of my life. And the reason it isn’t is because my true nature is in full play.

I’m a writer. I’m also a mom, wife and friend. I socialize and cook and clean and read and practice yoga and meditate every single day. But writing is what I do. It is my industry. Writing nourishes me. It keeps me sane to deal with all the rest, especially in this time of Quarantine.

And that’s my truth, and I’m sticking to it. (Turns out my granddaughter’s industry is arts and crafts— especially those that allow her to be a character like Mitten the Kitten.) What’s yours?