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Coronacuts and Crisis Schooling
posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - April 28th, 2020
Like most of us, Joanne and her family have reached the shelter-in-place need for a haircut! Read her post today to see how they handled that. Also if you missed last night’s 2Moms@Home with Joanne and Karen, you will want to catch up, as they have a guest dad, who drops some really great wisdom for us all. If you’d like to sign up for next Monday night, go here: 2Moms@Home.
It’s happened. We have reached peak Camp Corona Chaos here.
I’m not sure how I feel about it. I can’t help but wonder if it’s because my husband had a day off, which allowed him to experience 3 consecutive days trapped with us in camp, or if it was simply inevitable. Either way, we grabbed some adult drinks and watched our 7 year old daughter, armed with little more than a half-watched YouTube video, scissors, and a dream, cut his hair. I don’t mean a little trim. She used “technique” and “styled” this hair. She turned on some music, adjusted his head, and even offered him a warm towel for his neck. I managed to stop laughing long enough to briefly consider letting her try her hand at my own mop of split ends. Briefly. It turns out I’m not QUITE there yet. We’ll reevaluate after another week of Camp Corona, of “remote learning”, and of carb loading. In the end I have to admit, she did a darn good job. I mean, for an untrained 7-year-old with a desire to fix her dad’s look.
And sharp scissors. Very sharp scissors.
I was recently chastised for referring to our “remote learning” as “homeschool”. I was reminded that to “homeschool” was a choice, and that this “remote learning” was in fact the opposite. This was “Crisis Schooling”. I have since seen this term used in the media and have come to embrace this new way of looking at our situation. We are in a crisis and we definitely did not choose to live life like this. Our teachers did not choose to teach our children like this, nor did our children choose to learn like this.
Sure, I often worry about my kids falling behind grade level, but not enough to open any “optional” work from school. It’s not that I don’t want my kids to excel academically; it is simply that I want them to be allowed to take time to maybe discover what they are passionate about and then attempt to excel at that. I have elected to have them use this time to complete their expected course work as deemed by the school, but to also explore passion projects. My daughter has quickly turned to her guitar and is channeling her thoughts into songwriting, while my son has been teaching himself to code and looking into ways to turn his ideas into a video game. These are things we wouldn’t have had time to really explore during the “normal” school year. Long ago I stopped trying to keep up the charade of normal. I am now trying to lead by example and show my kids that “normal” shouldn’t be defined by anyone’s expectations but their own.
The “normal” in my house has always been loud voices and equally loud laughter. Laughter has always been one of my favorite sounds. Those little belly laughs that babies have are mesmerizing to me. There is a real sense of accomplishment when you know that you elicited that sound of joy from someone. Especially when it’s your own child. My kids are bigger now, but I am still drawn to that sound of joy that comes from deep in their being.
I am grateful for a lot right now, but especially grateful to be able to hear that sound, even during these unsettled times. I have wondered how they are processing the current circumstances we are wading through, and after questioning them at length this is what I have discovered: they’re ok. Sometimes. They’re scared, they’re curious, they’re sad, and they’re happy, sometimes. In other words, they are just as much a mess as I am, sometimes. I try to be as honest with them as possible when they ask questions, but I have noticed that they aren’t asking questions as often as they used to. I think they’ve picked up on the fact that I don’t know anymore about what’s happening than they do. They have realized that this is the first time that this has happened in my lifetime, so I don’t know how it will end either. We’re all looking for the same answers and wondering when this strange period will end.
Instead of asking questions, we have started discussing possibilities. We have been enjoying big discussions regarding what changes we hope will transpire as well as those that we fear might come. We are adapting to our new circumstances better than I could have imagined. The first birthday from the confines of quarantine was one of the best birthdays I have ever had: for the first time in years we were able to celebrate my birthday with my mom and every single one of my siblings and their families!
My kids helped make me breakfast in bed, complete with fresh-squeezed orange juice, french toast, and caprese salad bites! Had we not been quarantined, this wouldn’t have happened. My husband even made a special trip into the city to my favorite steakhouse to surprise me with my favorite birthday dinner. It was a treat for us all! Neither one of us had to cook, and The Striphouse included a dessert, complete with candle when they heard it was my birthday! A win for everyone, and we proved to ourselves that we didn’t need to have store-bought presents to make a birthday a celebration! We needed each other.
When I recently confessed that I was having trouble picturing our summer, both kids looked at me with giant smiles on their faces and let me know that no matter what, once “crisis schooling” was over, they could handle anything! I certainly hope so because I am going to need their help to keep finding creative uses of our time. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t bored of our Legos, board games or cooking classes yet. There are still recipes to master, tournaments to win and towers to build. But, as I warned them, the heat of the summer hasn’t hit us yet, and the siren song of the ice cream truck hasn’t begun to reverse our dinner routine.
Summer vacation is going to be very different this year. I am uncertain if we’ll be able to travel to any of our favorite summer haunts. The annual trip to my Mom’s house, where each child is gifted to an aunt or uncle for a few days of fun in the sun, may not happen this year. They might not be reuniting with camp friends for baseball, chess or swimming. In fact, they might not even go much further than our little cement slab of a backyard. Yet, even in that little cement backyard lies a tiny little dirt patch, where we will nurture our little tomato plants and our squash plants. Where the cycle of life is waiting to show us that this too will pass.
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