It had been one week since our governor canceled all public schools through at least March 30th, and yesterday it was pushed to May 15.
At that moment, I was sitting cross-legged on the floor, typing from the living room coffee table. I was debating whether or not I should pour another three-quarters worth of cold brew while I waited out today’s recess time. The previous morning, I had listened to the school’s weekly voice message and was flabbergasted when they wished us “good luck” on our fourth day of distance learning.
My fingers almost looked back at me in question as I typed “day four” because it felt like it should have been day 14 for all the ways our daily lives had changed since school was canceled.
It had been a week. One long week.
One week since I collected my son’s take-home packet from the school’s multipurpose room.
Almost a week of finding Facebook live events to satisfy science and social studies requirements.
One week of my second grader’s younger siblings screeching and holding stolen writing implements behind their backs while I gruffly count to three.
Almost a week of scrambling my brain for at least twice daily cooperative activities so said siblings could participate with now home biggest brother instead of defecting by 10:30 a.m. every morning.
A week of religiously carrying my caffeine in my ‘Don’t Stress Do Your Best’ mug.
So the next week, I tried some new things.
I converted our front sitting/playroom into a classroom of sorts, mostly because it’s the room with the largest window. I figured since most of our weekdays will be spent in the classroom, it’d be good to have it in a spot where we can at least watch our neighbors walk their dogs.
On the 11th day, my second grader absently looked out that very window and rubbed his eyes behind his glasses. I stood at the buffet dresser stumbling over the lesson plan I’d written in my spiral notepad. It wasn’t even 10 a.m. and we’d already deviated from the plan. I didn’t know where to pick it back up. His hand gripped the edge of his compact antique desk and his voice wavered as he told me his teacher didn’t do things this way.
“Why can’t you just be like my teacher?” he whispered in defeat.
My heart dropped in sadness, but my frustration still swelled. I found myself swishing around in the belly of my pour over’s glass carafe, obsessively waiting for the four-minute brew time to be up so I could be poured into the mug. I really was trying my best, but I feared I’d end up being under-extracted.
I hadn’t plopped in a college seat in years, but these days I feel as if I’m back in the front row in my statistics class wondering how on earth I was going to make it to the end of the semester with at least a C. I’m so incredibly lost.
I have so many questions and doubts about my new teaching role.
I don’t know if I’m executing all the resources his teacher provided properly. I’m sure I’m not really touching upon everything on the sample lesson plan she sent out. Surely there must be some packet a younger sibling has stashed somewhere unbeknownst to me.
But most of all, I can’t give him a solid answer when he asks if he’ll see his teacher again this year. I can’t assure him or myself that I’ll be able to pass this job back to a qualified professional.
In 2018, my son missed six and a half weeks of first grade after Hurricane Florence struck our county. But our kids returned to their classrooms that school year. This time, it’s so late in the year that I fear the May 15th date will too be far gone and he just won’t return before the next grade level.
So much uncertainty about the present and the future, with things changing every day and week – how do I support and comfort him?
The other night I read a blog post written by an anonymous grade school teacher. She said she missed her students and was deeply saddened that she didn’t get to tell them goodbye. She didn’t know they wouldn’t see each other again after the weekend.
I instantly thought of our son’s teacher and all the time she puts into her classroom and lesson plans. I thought of the Bojangles she’d eat in the morning and the Starbucks she’d drink throughout the day.
Without so much as a heads up before the weekend, they’ve also been thrust into unfamiliar learning environments. And if your classroom is anything like mine, it’s loud and often overrun by two class clowns (younger siblings.) Holden tells me they’d be on red if they were in his teacher’s classroom.
Mamas, teachers, kids – we’re all feeling it.
In the days to come, I hope to gracefully wade this season.
I pray this for you too. I pray we’ll find the strength to gracefully lead, even in the least ideal of circumstances. I wish for us to tune our ears to the current math problem or reading assignment even if their obnoxiously loud younger siblings are shouting over who had it first. I hope we will give ourselves permission to do school in pajamas and give ourselves a break and go outside even if the lesson module is only half done. I pray we won’t compare ourselves to our Facebook friends and their beautifully orchestrated activities and lesson plans.