Approximately 4,061 months ago, our local schools shuttered, and we started this new magic called “distance learning.”
Needless to say, this is very hard for all of us. I can’t change that, but what I can do is provide some support for you parents out there. I’m going to craft a universal schedule based on my own tried-and-true routine so that we can all get on the same page. Here it is–I look forward to hearing how it goes for you!
6:00–Wake in a panic, remembering that your child didn’t do his project where he makes a garden rake out of papier mâché that is similar to the tools ancient Egyptians used. Remind yourself that it is OK; his teacher already knows you are a shoddy parent because of what they see in the background of his Zoom meeting.
6:15–Lapse into a general malaise about the virus and politics and how you still can’t keep your house clean even when you literally aren’t allowed to go anywhere else. Try to sleep some more.
7:00–Climb out of bed and find Child A and Child B joyfully playing, using math and logic and creativity and a little dash of structural engineering.
Try to make coffee while they talk to you. You will start working at 7:30. Love this commute! Thank goodness school starts so late now! Remind Child A about the papier mâché rake, and he cheerfully notes he’s working on it.
7:30–Lose coffee. Start the search while people talk to you.
8:00–There it is. There’s still time to get a little done before your first meeting. But first, you need to get dressed, and the kids need to get dressed.
8:15–Wave at spouse, who appears to be going to work. Hope he’s coming back later. Children A and B launch a fight and storm away from their mess.
8:30–Teenaged Child C sort of pats her way through the living room toward the breakfast cereal, blinking tiredly. Smile at blinking child on your way to try to get some work done.
8:50–Your meeting is about to start! Get ready to log in and open emails while you wait for the meeting to launch. Thoughtfully answer one. Oh my gosh, the kids’ meetings! Why aren’t they dressed yet? Even if their brother is a jerk they have to wear a shirt. Yes they do. Yes. Shirt. Now. Oh shoot, you forgot to reset the internet, which is about as good as 1997 AOL dial-up if you don’t reset it. Find the directions for the papier mâché rake and bring them to still-angry Child A.
8:57–Nobody has fed the dog of course, because the dog would starve to death if you did not personally feed her. Where is the scoop?
8:59–Child A’s computer is broken. It won’t turn on no matter what he does. It will never work again. Firmly press the power button and discover that the computer is totally fine. Child A grumbles that it didn’t work before now. Child B’s computer is not charged but that’s OK–he can just sit right next to you in his Zoom while you are in yours, with his power cord stretched across your lap.
9:00–Start your meeting. Apologize to the participants. Wish you knew where your coffee was and that you had managed to bring it to the meeting with you. Hope Child C is doing OK, because you haven’t seen her since she tiredly felt her way past you to the Rice Chex.
9:15–Child B explains the lifecycle of the wolf to you while you are in your own meeting, though later he will act like he’s never heard of any of this before. Realize that his teacher is moving on to math and ask him to listen.
9:20–Doorbell rings and dog loses her mind. Everyone mutes their Zooms. Who are you kidding–only you actually talk in your Zooms anyway and the children probably do not know how to unmute themselves in their meetings. Child B shows you the interesting house he is drawing. He already knows how to do this math. You ask him to listen anyway.
10:00–OK, your first meeting is done. Why is Child B outside? You barely missed the feeling of his computer cord across his lap. You hear people still talking on his Zoom. Oh good, he’s on a break. (Is this really when he has a break? You hope so.) You vaguely hear Child A talking in his Zoom meeting. Wow! He’s participating! Expect that he’s really turning his life around and that this is turning over a new leaf.
10:07–Getting ready for your 10:10 meeting, you find out Child A was actually playing Among Us with some classmates. Hope that he too was on a break. But you can’t really do anything about that now, because you have to use the bathroom before your next meeting. Haul Child B back because he’s probably done with his alleged break. Wonder how Child C is doing. Is Child C alive? OK, Child C is probably alive because you did see her at breakfast. Unless that was yesterday. Don’t check because last time you went in there, a panicked teenager waved you out of her Zoom meeting.
10:09–Get your next meeting going, feel vaguely like you can’t remember how to do anything, remember you didn’t eat. Shout across house at Child A to remind him he simply must finish his papier mâché rake. He asserts he has never heard of this project before. Stop bothering for the moment because your meeting has to really start.
10:10-12:30–Go through blur of several meetings, forgetting to eat lunch in the small lunchtime allotment, because when the children finished their own meetings, rather than starting their work, they brought all of the home’s blankets out onto the trampoline, where they will stay until the next rain. Tell them to do their homework. Weather arguments about every assignment and how they cannot possibly be expected to do these things they are perfectly capable of doing, including the math they were too smart for earlier. Realize you have to rush to your own meeting without really being sure you’ve followed up enough for them to do the work. Spouse comes home in there somewhere but you can’t greet him because you’re trying to force helpless people on a meeting to do their work too. Spouse accidentally says a bad word in the background of your Zoom meeting when he finds out Child A has turned in none of the assignments that were due yesterday, despite his assurances that he is practically in 12th grade now, he’s done so much work. Apologize to students, hope it makes them feel better about their home lives.
12:30–Child B turns on the sno-cone machine, drowning out your attempts to speak in your meeting. Doorbell rings, prompting dog to bark. Try to overcome all of this and still remember what you were talking about. Child C must be on break because she is arguing with Child B in an attempt to quiet him.
12:50–Finish meeting. Argue with children. Tell Child A you will check on his work on the rake after nap. Eat a cheese stick for lunch, on top of the Reese’s cup you found in the drawer earlier. Take nap and sleep like you haven’t slept for 100 years.
2:00–Wake up when the dog barks at a delivery person, respond to emails from students who have never appeared to be present in Zoom meetings but who are suddenly worried about their grades and attendance. Spouse has helped get kids somewhat farther in assignments so they are on screens. Feel happy there is relative peace.
3:00–Argue with children about getting off screens. Find out that the child who was told to make a papier mâché garden rake hasn’t done it because he asserts he’s never heard of a rake before. And he doesn’t know where the materials are. Oh, there they are, in his backpack. He doesn’t have the directions. You point out that you literally put them in his hand earlier. Remind him that you talked him through the steps last week. Give up arguing with someone who is going to be a great lawyer someday but tell him he has to make his BLEEPING RAKE before a teacher calls CPS on your family.
4:30–Child has not made the rake. He did, however, rip up the instructions sheet in frustration. Take a break to try to get some work done while he simmers down.
5:30–Perform wellness check on Child C. She is conscious, appears to have been eating, says school is going well. When you ask about grades, however, Child C has no idea what her grades are or why they are what they are or how one might go about solving grade problems. She is, however, painting a lovely picture in her room.
6:00–Argue about dinner. Ingest something and ensure children have ingested something.
6:30–Begin walking child through overdue papier mâché rake project. Have passionate fight with child, who feels you have wronged him since birth, his teacher is a jerk who hates him, and that there is no way anybody could ever possibly do this project.
9:00–Child shows visible signs of having fun. Remind yourself to seize the moment and enjoy it too instead of bopping him with the rake, which is finally taking shape. Take deep breaths and realize you haven’t breathed since this morning. Hope that you get a good grade on your assignment and look forward to stopping feeling mortified about the assignment being late. Stop child from bringing rake onto the trampoline, take a fuzzy photo of it, and spend 15 minutes trying to get it uploaded to Google Classroom.
9:30–Ask children to brush their teeth. Try to get work done.
10:00–Ask children to brush their teeth. Discover Child C doing her homework. She had homework earlier, during the painting? OK, well at least she’s reliable and will actually do any work she does know about.
10:10–Read emails from children’s teachers, informing you that Child A has not done any of his math assignments, just written random numbers in the boxes. Read emails from teacher begging parents to ensure their students are not turning in blank Google Docs. Wonder if children are doing this. Check Google Classrooms and find out that Child B has also done no math, that math he was too smart for. Also, since when does he have an Interpretive Dance Google Classroom? Why are there so many Google Classrooms? Does he have interpretive dance assignments?
10:30–Tired and too afraid to check the interpretive dance assignments, go to bed without brushing teeth.