This post is about our third week with our schools shut down (March 30- April 3). I am a little behind on posting and I’ll explain why later. For now though I want to chronicle what it is like to suddenly be forced to stay in your home during a pandemic. Maybe at some point, my grandchildren or someone will want to read about it the way we would be interested in reading about a first hand experience during The Great Depression or World War.
The word I would use to describe my emotions throughout all of this would be waves. The shock comes in waves. The first week out of school was incredibly difficult! The second week seemed better. The third week was back to difficult for me.
The school closures happened so suddenly and without warning that at first there was no plan. So the first two weeks the district encouraged everyone to do their own curriculums and schedules. It was a season I refer to as the wild west. Now they are enforcing (in some ways) lesson plans, conferences, and assignments that students are expected to participate in. They call this “Distance Learning”. School is back in session, but it’s from home now. For my 6th and 3rd grader this meant they would need to do their school work online and my 1st grader had a packet sent in the mail. We ordered a chrome book so that Z could do his work, but it isn’t due to arrive until the end of the month so that’s not much help. Luckily he is a technology mastermind (in my eyes) and he was able to take an old broken Chrome book that we had lying around, somehow plug it into our TV to be used as a monitor and paired it with a wireless keyboard.
So that’s what Z is using, but SJ was still lacking. She can’t do all of her schoolwork on my old iPhone like we had been doing. The school offered loaner chrome books for students that needed a device so I signed up. It was a weird feeling going into the school during quarantine and this was another wave of shock for me. There were no instructions so I asked what we needed to do (I was curious if there would be guidelines or a sign-in for this laptop?). The principal encouraged me to ask Z. She said “He’ll know what to do.”
I really struggled to be able to teach all three kids at different grade levels. I know enough about homeschooling and Montessori education to see the beauty of teaching kids at different levels through cooking, science, read alouds, nature observation etc. Each child will absorb the lesson at their level and the older kids will help the younger. The problem is, this isn’t homeschooling. This is now distance learning so all three kids have completely different websites, worksheets, books, and projects. I have them in separate parts of the house, but other than my 6th grader they aren’t independent learners! So I hear “MOM!!!” being screamed from one room and I go to help the third grader with a problem that, let’s be honest, I don’t understand because math is different than it was when I was in school. Then I hear fighting from the other room and realize that the preschooler is in tears. I separate them, hand the youngest a tablet to play on, and start addressing my first grader with a tone that does not display the fruits of the spirit at all. After throwing a box of tissues across the room because I am so done I get a text from my husband who needs it to be quiet because he is on a conference call.
That’s another thing, everyone is always on someone kind of video conference! I feel like my home has been invaded. Where I used to be able to walk around in pajamas with a towel on my head singing at the top of my lungs in my own private space. Now I have to worry that the hot mess life I live is going to be on video! Then I have to try to get little brother and sister to keep quiet too. We have 6 people in a three bedroom house. We are blessed, but it’s not a huge house!
SJ is also struggling to adapt to being on video. She doesn’t like hearing herself and it probably has to do with her speech delay. Her teacher posted a video with the question “How are you feeling about distance learning ?” Video after video showed responses of cheery children who all enthusiastically agree that they are EXCITED about this next month of distance learning. Then there was SJ. She solemnly says “I am excited… and a little bit NOT excited because I don’t really like to be on videos. I just like to be at school like it has always been, before this happened.” Thankfully SJ’s amazing teacher sent her an email telling her she did not have to do videos. She could participate in Q&A and lessons however she felt comfortable.
By the time Friday rolled around I was beat. I kept hearing that there were people who were bored during this time of quarantine. That sounded amazing, I felt more stressed-out than ever. Just when I wanted to give up I got several encouragements through my friends and community that weekend. First I had a neighbor drop off treats for the kids at the door step.
Then a friend left Starbucks and my favorite LaRosa’s Pizza and ice cream at our doorstep.
Then we made a sign together for the teacher parade that was coming through.
We walked to a designated area (practicing social distancing of course) and waited for the cars.
The kids got to see their teachers and cheer for them as they drove by.
The teachers waved and simultaneously cheered for their students.
It was absolutely beautiful.
The next morning was the icing on the cake. The kids had been preparing to be in charge of our weekly Saturday morning “Busch Brunch”.
Usually I cook the brunch and they eat it. This time, not only did they prepare the whole meal but they made it really special by playing music, refilling our coffee, and writing their names upside down (rightside up from our perspective) because I had previously told them that’s what I did when I was a waitress at Macaroni Grill.
I let all the tears come at this precious display and I will cherish it forever!
Lastly, a friend dropped off some sunflower seeds and soil at our doorstep and SJ received seeds in the mail from her teacher! What a great way to show kindness during the quarantine. My heart was full!
All these acts of kindness lifted my spirits. It was like God reminding me that He sees my struggle and we are going to get through this. I felt like this was the perfect kick off for what would be an uneventful stay-at-home Spring Break. Or so I thought…