Really it was just another practice week, week six. Albeit with the addition of two hours a day of online school, which was definitely practice. Elliot missed the first two minutes of small group because Gigi didn’t believe the six year old knew how to follow the links to get there. (To be fair, he didn’t; but now he does. I think. Me? Not so sure.) I had to send an SOS to Mommy, who was in a Zoom meeting in the outbuilding-Moms-office/classroom, to come to the rescue. And he missed the last ten minutes of the day because the rural internet cut out. Or maybe too many people were on it. Yep, practice.
It was just another practice week except that the four year old was not only missing his preschool companions, but also his big brother playmate. All he had was Gigi. I wrenched my back not wanting to insist that I really should not crawl into the secret agent headquarters cave under the stairs to plot strategy.
It was just another practice week except Elliot had a melt down because Adrian got some iPad game/show time while Elliot was in the virtual classroom and he didn’t get equal time when he got done. Not fair! And don’t even try to explain to an angry child that what also isn’t fair is that Adrian has no peer time, even virtual. (I did not try, at least not right then. This is not my first time around the block. And it is not unlike trying to ‘splain logic to a 100 year old.) If iPad time has been established as post-active down time, what do you do when up time is sitting in front of the screen? Practicing new protocols.
School (virtual) in a pandemic is not homeschooling. To say it is disrespects parents who are teaching, not just guiding. It discounts the expertise and long-term commitment of families who have chosen to do this. They have this figured out, we are punting. This is crisis school, and I daresay there is already not a parent nor a teacher who can’t wait for schools to safely reopen. But as far as my family and I are concerned—and the Seattle school system—that time is not now. And so we commit to navigating the learning curve; accepting the glitches; getting support where we can find it; understanding that while it won’t be perfect, it will be fine. And we mush on, finding our way as we go.
There have been happy benefits. I got to watch Elliot share the “blue” item he brought to class: a book he and Adrian made of animals pictures cut from Ranger Rick and a little known fact I looked up in answer to questions he had. It was on blue paper. He was so proud of it. “It’s the BEST BOOK I EVER, EVER MADE!”
And Emma, working from the room next to Wynne’s “class room,” could overhear her with her kindergarten students: “She is so good!” she said. These are things that usually happen far away from the eyes and ears of family members. It gives us new respect for one another.
Over the weekend, which should have been spent out of the house—the family at favorite outdoor Seattle venues or at least in the back yard, me on a trail, at least the ones outside my house—we are stuck inside with the windows closed against wildfire smoke. We have been at dangerous and very dangerous air quality levels for days; outdoors smells like standing directly in a campfire smoke stream. Even inside, I have a scratchy throat and headache, and Oregonians and Californians have it far worse. Mornings have been foggy to boot. The only way to know the fog has cleared is when the vichyssoise takes on a sickly yellow glow. This morning I realized the birds are MIA. Where do they go to escape? It’s different from the dreariness of winter rain and fog, somehow. It’s gloomy. It’s sad. It’s grief of paradise on fire on top of pandemic grief on top of no leadership grief on top of racial inequity vs. white privilege come-to-a-head grief on top of a hate-mongering administration grief. We have grief fatigue. Is that in the DSM? I have rarely felt lonely, but last night I found myself eager for the return of my family.
They return today, for the first full week and full six-hour days of school. I participated Friday in a student/parent/teacher meeting. I surely thought those days were far in the past. Today I’m trying to interpret the schedule for the week that was emailed to me. I’m part of the team. I’m anxious. It’s going to be fine.
My Sunday Gaian Tarot draw this morning—to my weekly question “What guidance can help me navigate through this week?”—was the Seven of Air. “It’s time to strategize, plan, and prepare to move in a new direction. We examine the map and consider alternate routes…what has been left off the map?…At some point, we need to fold up the map and get back on the path” Joanna Powell Colbert.
Like caring for an elderly parent, there may not be a map; it’s uncharted territory and we are drawing our own map. Last week, I made a list of activity possibilities for Adrian. Giving each one an optimistic ten minutes, it took all of these to think I could fill the two hours Elliot was in school. We did almost none of them; four year olds have their own agenda.
Maps are just a guideline, and may not take us down the path we find ourselves on. Stick close to a river or a highway and you are bound to end up somewhere.
On Friday, the family gone home, two mourning doves perched on the deck rail out side the dining room table where I sat. I hear the doves cooing all the time, I rarely see them, and I have literally never seen two in conversation. I like to imagine it was my mother and father, telling me I am doing a good thing, taking care of my family, assuming the mantle of the elder. And they are so proud of me.