What a wild year. Us moms have been hit especially hard having to juggle many colliding scenarios in an ever changing landscape. It feels like every morning the rules change, like we’re in The Labyrinth and Jareth keeps moving things but we don’t get Ludo we get The Cleaners!! In this week’s change up, we received days notice that the district was pivoting to virtual learning, leaving us to scramble and hastily set up a classroom. Because I had been following the numbers I knew another shut down was likely so I had a plan in my head for the functional aspect of setting up a kindergarten in my mother-in-law’s house. But, I was legit dreading the entire situation. Anyway my brain analyzed the future scenarios I saw speed bumps and hurdles.
The district meticulously bagged and boxed enough supplies to get us through MLK Day which is their projected re-open. Color coded folders with papers in order, books, Chromebooks, crayons, markers, dry erase board, more site reading books, workbooks, individual bags with supplies for specific craft projects (such as clay, glue, scissors etc) were assembled for each child by the teachers and distributed by the teachers. As I type this, Miss Rook is on the way to our house to drop off supplementary worksheets. Once I saw all the gear they sent home, I got to work laying it out so #TheHandful could do as much of the work on her own as possible, ideally reducing the amount of times I need to help her locate various items. I then sat in the room and looked at her daily schedule to try to line up the supplies as they’d be used and then charged up her Chromebook before practicing the log in myself anticipating log in issues for the first day. First day had predictably a bunch of technical hiccups but now that we’ve been at it a week I have had some observations y’all. I have had some observations!
Parents really have the audacity to just join in on these Zooms, interrupting everything to both yell at the teacher and “correct” the teacher. We had a grandpa repeatedly unmute himself to ask the teacher how to work the Zoom, in the middle of her lesson. We had mom scream and berate the art teacher. I can’t stress this enough: in front of 20 five year olds, screamed at the teacher because her own child couldn’t find the clay the kids were supposed to use and because of this the kid interrupted her conference call. We had a mom interrupt the reading and comprehension lesson about Christmas to make sure the teacher knows we give gifts out during Christmas – the lesson was for the kids to read three sentences about Christmas and then repeat back what they read. No mention of gifts. Mom needed to repeat for about 2 full minutes that we give gifts on Christmas. Again, this is during the reading comprehension lesson asking the kids what they just read. Can you imagine if parents did this in a classroom, kicked open the door to shout and scream at a teacher and then slam the door shut and leave? That’s the virtual equivalent here. Can someone explain to me why parents do this? Per my Instagram DM’s from my teacher friends, this happens to them a LOT.
Another series from my Instagram stories that got my DM’s flooded was when I posted about how involved the job is of managing virtual kindergarten and the messages were heartbreaking. A mom who’d just made partner at a law firm was in tears because she had to keep reducing her workload to keep her two kids on track. Another didn’t have enough computers for all her children to do virtual school. One was freaking out because she literally had $50 to last her until the next paycheck and her kid’s school needed them to purchase supplies but she also still had to feed everyone. It’s affecting a lot of marriages, I had more than a few messages about moms having flat out rage towards their husbands. A lot of messages about all the virtual school falling on them while their husbands work remains unaffected. It’s been documented that women are disproportionately affected by school closures. I even have a friend writing a thesis on how the pandemic is career genocide for women.
Kinder kids need a lot of tech support, that should surprise no one. The bulk of my day is spent helping with logging in and then the rest of it is making sure she understands the assignment / isn’t running out of the room or playing with toys. She accidentally logs out or closes the Zoom all day long. Virtual school is lonely, they miss each other. While I don’t love literally attending kindergarten all day there are moments like just now as I type this where I over hear her say “I love my mommy so much I drew all these hearts for her” so that was cute. Then she knocked all the books off the desk trying to make space for the handwriting project. Not so cute. Grrrr, school issued Chromebook just died, now I have to give her my lap top and pause on writing this, when I finally started writing again! Onward we forge.
As I was charging her computer I realized how many auto log ins were already in place on the school issued Chromebooks when I had to manually enter every single do-hingey they use. Let me tell you there are a lot of case sensitive, actually let’s just say this, these passwords seem very secure. 16 digit sons of …
If you’re a non parent there are ways you can help. Acts of service go a long way for moms who are just getting hit from all sides. Someone sending some takeout so that you don’t have to rush around preparing lunch in the allotted break time before rushing back onto Zoom, or finishing that work assignment, goes a long way. And, dads, it’s your wives in my DM’s in tears it’s not randoms, and we need help. Everyone always says it takes a village, well village we need you! We’re not waiving the white flag, we’re already 25 feet below the surface and sinking. Y’hear that village? WE NEED YOU. That means wearing a mask in public and not having large gatherings, that means staying home from bars and indoor dining. We can’t safely open schools if you’re out there living your best life. It means be flexible with your coworkers who are parents, we are getting help from nowhere.
And moms, I’m proud of us. We are stepping up and doing whatever it takes for our families and frankly that level of sacrifice, planning, effort and execution makes all of us war time generals and we should be looked upon as such. The future of our nation depends on how we raise these children even in these dire circumstances. We’re doing the best we can and we’re doing it ourselves. When we reflect on this period in history years down the road we’re going to be seeing super heroes.