Hello, fellow parents. How are you doing there in your homes with your children? The first few weeks were an interesting experiment.
- Baking. Soooo much baking. Banana bread. Pancakes. Chocolate chip cookies. Birthday cakes. Lemon bars. My husband has baked about 5,429 loaves of sourdough bread in a not-so-subtle competition with his mother to see who produces the prettiest specimen.
- Homemade play doh. Slime. Painting. Pottery. Puzzles. My oldest completed a detailed map of New England. I’ve almost completed my daughter’s Frida Kahlo puzzle. I’m having a great time with her Christmas gift.
- Monopoly. Scrabble. Checkers. The competitions last about 15 minutes until someone upends the board in rage or our blind old Westie, Emerson, staggers across the game, scattering pieces everywhere.
The novelty has worn off, hasn’t it? Memes are starting to hit a little too close to home. In a cruel twist of fate, a few days ago our Amazon Firestick died and now is stuck playing the same episode of Say Yes to the Dress on repeat. Welcome to Dante’s tenth circle of hell.
Here’s an update on how my children are learning and adjusting. I have two extroverts for whom a normal Saturday of house chores, sports practices, and errands usually drives them to fits of despair. They want special adventures, movies, bowling, parties, ticker-tape parades, trips to Mars, etc. They’re struggling the most.
One day my 10-year-old literally (and I mean literally literally, not figuratively) jumped in front of my husband and me and wailed, “ENTERTAIN ME!!!!!!” Olivia gets bored very quickly and wants constant interaction. She loves her Zoom meetings and makes a point of getting up early to shower, do her hair, and put on her favorite clothes. Learning is an interactive, social, conversational process for her. Thank goodness her teacher hasn’t given up the morning Zoom meetings yet!
My 13-year-old wanders the house like a zombie whose soul has been sucked into an alternate universe that is only accessible through his phone screen. His work is much more independent, reading chapters and taking notes, writing essays, etc. Nicholas becomes very frustrated when Zoom doesn’t work well, and he misses the more fluid and effective give-and-take of discussions in history class. I think he really misses that downtime between classes when relationships are built: chatting with buddies, connecting with the teachers, weaving the fabric of the whole school community. You just can’t replicate that with technology, and it shines a light on everything that students build at school beyond the scope and sequence of skills and content knowledge.
My 8-year-old is a creative, introverted homebody. Cameron would stay in his favorite Elf jammies for eternity if we let him. Recently when offered the chance to take a drive to the Dairy Queen ‘drive-thru’ for ice cream, he elected to stay home and bounce on the trampoline. Maybe he’s an extra-terrestrial. He is in heaven just living within his own limitless and unstructured imagination. Today he declared, “Gravity is boring.” Cameron begrudgingly completes his assignments each day in order to earn freedom. Although he loves his teacher and friendships at school, he’d be happy to stay home with a completely empty agenda for the rest of his life. He’ll have a bumpy re-entry into a structured school day when the time comes.
My children – each in his or her own way – have adjusted to the groove of online schooling, and they understand that they will not return to school before summer. They’ve accepted the present and are now looking to the summer hoping that they can see their grandparents and go to the beach. I think that will be the next challenge for everyone involved with the academic calendar: we have figured out how to cope with learning from home. Next, how do we survive summer at home, if necessary? Imagine summer with no public swimming, no summer camps, no crowded beaches, no standing in a tight line at our favorite ice cream shop in Orleans, no hugging at family reunions. I have a