Things I have learned during the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- I like leaving my house.
- My cats are annoyed that I am invading their living space.
- I am not meant to be a homeschooler.
- Like, really not meant to be a homeschooler.
- For realz though.
I was a teacher before I had kids. I’m a teacher and the director of education at a local church. I drive a school bus for our city. I love kids in general. I think my own kids are pretty great, and I love hanging out with them.
But this sudden jolt into crisis education? Holy WOW, I am not cut out for this. I am pretty sure most of us parents aren’t.
I thought about that color-coded Pinterest schedule thing other moms were using for about .7 seconds before realizing my kids probably wouldn’t follow a schedule if they saw their mom flopped across the couch crying about having to follow it. And so, our “Home School Flop” schedule was born.
The kids drag themselves out of bed whenever they are done sleeping. After wandering around for awhile whining about being hungry, they remember there is food hidden in the cabinets and fridge. They eat all the food, leaving only dried cranberries and the heels of bread.
The Wild Kratts educate the little ones while I attempt to clean up from the morning feeding frenzy and get in a few hours of work. The teen-children glue tablets to their faces and speak in gamer terms that I only pretend to understand. The girl-child signs into Messenger Kids and giggles for 36 straight hours over video chat with other girl-children from her class. The cat gives me the evil side-eye, and I am pretty sure I just heard his voice reverberate in my brain telling me to go walk the dog and not come back until the streetlights come on. The dog eats a couch cushion.
Late morning (Is it still morning? How is it still morning?)
I wrangle five children to the table and tell them it is school work time.
- The preschooler shrieks with joy after every letter he traces, then he races around the table to show everyone, fully expecting exuberant applause from each person. Twenty. Six. Times.
- The first grader powers through an entire week’s worth of worksheets in under 20 minutes and then begs to read the new book we bought him. He finishes the book in an hour and then cries that the author has not written others to keep him occupied.
- The fourth grader begs for help with math. I realize I have tapped out at third-grade math. I assure her I have a college education. We both cry. The seventh grader steps in to teach fourth-grade math. Thank goodness for older brothers.
- The seventh grader attempts to negotiate his way out of his own work by pointing out that he has done MY work as the teacher. We have a standoff. He wins.
- I have no idea what my eighth grader is doing for work. He explains it to me. I have no idea what my eighth grader is doing for work.
The children are appalled by their bread heel and dried cranberry sandwiches. I remind them that they ate six months’ worth of groceries for breakfast. They eat the chairs and then cry that they have nowhere to sit.
Post feeding time
On nice days, I shoo the children out the door. The dog digs holes. The children fall into the holes. The kids don’t come inside until they are covered in more dirt than the ground itself. They’re practically feral.
There have been approximately two nice days.
I yell something to the extent of “read something or your brain will turn to mush!” to indicate that it is time for reading.
- The first grader grabs a pile of books and skips away. The dog eats one of the books. He cries. I yell at the dog. The dog cries. I promise the dog a walk later. I hear the cat meow something that distinctly sounds like the word Hallelujah.
- The girl-child stops reading to tell me something every 17 words.
- The eighth grader stops every three pages to re-tell everything that has happened in his book.
- The seventh grader attempts to negotiate not reading an age-appropriate book by reading board books to the preschooler. We discuss a future in law. He tells me he will take the Bar exam right after he reads “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
- The preschooler gives me a dirty look and tells me he wants his brother to read the book to him, not me.
- I pour another cup of coffee and hide from the children.
I announce that it is time to clean, and the children disappear. I revel in the quiet and sit down with a cup of coffee. I realize I am stuck to the chair.
We play a rousing game of “Why is this sticky?” followed by the ever-popular “You need to put SOAP in the dishwasher/washing machine!” culminating in the crowd favorite “If I step on this toy one more time, I am going to feed it to the dog!” The dog looks optimistic.
The children are thrilled that Daddy has finally come downstairs from work. He asks what we are eating for dinner. The cat yells “THE DOG!” We agree to call an exorcist for the cat once we are allowed to have visitors again.
I run away with the dog. I have no idea what happens during this time.
Countdown to bedtime
There is some sort of family time. The kids usually smell less feral by this point, so I am pretty sure they were bathed while the dog and I were on our escape. I mean, our walk.
Glorious bedtime. Sometimes they sleep. Sometimes they don’t. As long as the electronics are off and it doesn’t sound like a frat party in there, I don’t care. There ain’t no set wake up time in Home School Flop House.
By the way, teachers? I love you. And I miss you.