Years ago when my boys were little, there was a news story about a mom of three, pregnant with her fourth, who tried to drive her minivan into the ocean. I think that’s a good place to start this post.
I believe it was a wise Israeli mom who once said: If Corona doesn’t kill us, distance learning will.
Day one of Camp Covid went swimmingly well. So well that I was bamboozled into thinking the days that followed would be equally successful. I can tell you with 100% confidence that we have been on a steady decline since Day One. I probably wouldn’t have minded as much if the date to return to school had stuck at the initial two weeks. Two weeks, huh? Shame on me for foolishly believing that. And every other potential date they fed us. With each date change, I felt it deep in my rapidly-growing gut that the odds of us ever going back were slim, but I still grasped at those hopeful crumbs like a rabid animal.
At one point in time, pre-Covid, I was mindful of screen time, snack consumption, and general hygiene. We had schedules, routines, practices, activities, carpools, and homework. It could be argued by some that I may have also exhibited signs of a closet perfectionist. Everything has its place and schedules are made for following. Yeah, well, quarantine and homeschooling crapped all over that.
We have been home now for 57 days and the kids have been getting consistently dumber for all 1,236 of them. And it’s probably because their mom and Head Teacher uses words like “dumber” and “crapped.” Our days all begin with good intentions and then rapidly pivot towards despair and defeat as soon as all three children are not on a Zoom call. When the three of them join forces, worksheets and assignments get flippantly tossed aside and I see that crazy look in their eyes. I know straightaway that it’s a coup.
This is our house. This is our rules. And we can’t stop. We won’t stop.
This is the moment when they unilaterally decide that it’s snack time (again) and begin the deluge of lunch requests, complaints about work and device demands. This all happens by 10:45 am, and that’s being generous. I have been professionally trained to wrangle children, keep them focused, teach them academics, model values, and guide them to being their best– all within a tidy window of time, with one allotted snack time, maybe two. Turns out that I can handle other people’s children with far more success than my own spawn. By lunch time, I’ve exhausted all my empty parenting threats and I’m ready to kick them out to the yard with a pack of those candy cigarettes, a six pack of Tab and urge them to find a can to kick around.
Red cups and sweaty bodies everywhere. Hands in the air like we don’t care.
Then the news came that we are officially out for the year. The only person that seemed remotely distraught by this was me. My children are now borderline recluses who are only comfortable communicating with other humans through devices. They seem disturbingly okay with my mediocre teaching and now believe that Legos are an official academic subject. Hope is dwindling around here and morale is low. Remember that nifty Camp Covid schedule I had proudly shared in my last post? Here’s what it looks like now.
We run things, things don’t run we. Don’t take nothing from nobody.
We are on the cusp of being done with homeschooling. Clearly. These days it’s more about crowd control and anger management with a heavy dose of device time. We hit rock bottom not too long ago when we reached the end of the internet, and my children started asking for cat videos before bed. But, being the overachiever that she is, my 6yo couldn’t leave it at that. After three nights of me obliging, she then requested donkey videos. So there’s that. (For the record, I’m only about one more week of quarantine away from seeing if that’s actually a thing.)
Here’s the irony. Though my children may have taken giant leaps backward in their education, I have learned an awful lot through homeschooling. Mainly, that there is no room for perfection here. I’ve had a lot of trouble letting go of the messy house, imperfect spelling, tumbleweeds of dog fur blanketing the carpets and stacks of paper and laundry everywhere. I’ve had to shut my trap on countless occasions because they were doing things differently than I would have liked. I once read somewhere that mistakes are the key to learning. If that’s the case, and I believe it is, then my kids and I might actually come out of this quarantine as geniuses.
We may also come out of here 400 pounds, antisocial and with PTSD. But at least my three children have finally learned to play with one another. I mean, look at how well they worked as a team to draw all those butts.