Everywhere you look right now, you see stories of parents trying to figure out how to manage their child’s online learning. I’m one of those parents, too, and can share a glimpse into the reality in our home.
My 10-year-old has been getting messages from teachers who are trying to learn how to use Zoom and Google Classroom. Today at 9 a.m. his teacher logged on Zoom greeting at least two dozen unmuted 5th-graders while my wife launched her first meeting of the day.
We’re a frugal family, so his computer is one of my wife’s old laptops. It’s the kind that Apple will soon deem ineligible for updates. There’s three of us in the apartment now, all attempting to go on with our educational and professional responsibilities with some shred of dignity.
It ain’t pretty.
We have raised our voices at each other. Some of us have cried, though I daren’t say who. We have bickered over table surfaces to work on. Lucky Charms has somehow made its way back into our cupboard after what I considered to be a very successful expulsion campaign this summer. There is a steady stream of snacks leaving our kitchen all day that appear to be secretly stored Halloween candy. Our two cats, both to whom I am allergic (that’s another story altogether), have demonstrated a supernatural ability to know precisely when the video camera on any computer is turned on. They stalk it like prey.
I am learning already that this isn’t a movie in which a band of superheroes fly in and make everything alright. We are, in fact, mostly resigned to our small apartment. The cavalry isn’t coming. We must together figure this out. Communication with each other has never been more important, especially in our family. None of this is normal; we must preface every sentence, quip, and eyeroll with that truth. We must admit that we are going to make mistakes, get frustrated as we try to conjure normality out of the time we have each day.
This morning I set a family alarm for 7 a.m.. Breakfast by 7:30 a.m. followed by teeth and showers, though two thirds of the household ignored the latter.
As I type this, my son is asking my wife to help him figure out how to set up his headphones so he can watch a math video. But my wife is on another call. He’s getting frustrated.
I am working in another room, headphones on, pretending not to hear—before finishing this sentence to go over and help.
How are you doing? Please share your experiences (and tips for coping) in the COMMENTs below.