community · education · Independence · Kids · The COVID files · whine and cheese

Social Distancing, day 4: Online Schooling and Drive-by Ice Cream

After the debacle that was yesterday, I woke up in a body that was on the verge of a fibro flare. In times past I would have gone back to bed, but we do what we have to do, and I got up and dressed. (Although come to think of it, I can’t remember whether or not I showered. This not-leaving-the-house-or-encountering-other-humans thing is causing all kinds of norms to slip, isn’t it?)

After my coffee (made by the fabulous Mr. December – thanks for having it ready every morning when I get up, honey!) we had a forced march family walk in the bracing air. All except for K. She had a meltdown about not being able to go out with her hair the way it was (tangled and unbrushed) and how nobody was helping her with it. Welcome to the teen years, ladies and gentlemen. Two years ago she would have had a tantrum for the opposite reason.

As five of us walked past restaurants with signs that said, “TAKEOUT ONLY” and bakeries with nobody in them, we talked about how important it is to support local businesses right now. We asked the kids to tell us which stores they thought we could still buy from while staying away from other people. Naturally, their first thought was for Baskin-Robbins (ice cream), so we made a plan to phone today and order something from them that we could pick up at the door. I think tomorrow we’ll call the French bakery for a couple of baguettes to have with soup for lunch, and when we run out of bread we’ll call the bagel company and make some kind of arrangement. Oh, and the small local grocery store that sells fruits and vegetables. Loblaws will survive this pandemic without our support. The local small businesses might not.


On our way back we crossed over Allen Road and instead of bumper-to-bumper traffic, we saw a nearly empty expressway. It was oddly surreal.

We returned from our walk refreshed and energetic, and the kids got down to work on their respective assignments. E played phonics games on the computer; N worked on his diorama (after a brief mom-lesson about how to do papier-maché.) K shut herself up in the library to work on math. And R…

Today was the first day of online school for R. Unlike some other schools that are doing live Zoom conferences with the whole class, our school is using Google classroom as a way for teachers to post assignments and brief videos. I’d have thought that would be a better system for us because it’s on a more flexible schedule; truthfully it’s much, much harder because instead of messaging the teacher (who may or may not respond immediately) R would rather just yell “Eema? I need you!” and expect me to come running.

You know what subject my kids seriously need to work on? Resilience. Reasoning skills too. For the last three days I’ve been exasperated at how they can’t seem to figure things out for themselves. I keep delaying my response to them, even when I’m technically available, just to see if they manage to figure anything out on their own (so far the answer is no, not really. But that’s probably because they’re spending all that time yelling for me to come instead of thinking about the problem at hand.)

I know it’s just the first day, and it’s the first time the school has ever done this, so there’s a learning curve on both ends. It will get better. It had better get better — otherwise I might decide that we’re “unschoolers”. I can’t be constantly available for explanations and so on when there are three other kids who need things too. 

IMG_2611Remember how yesterday someone did a half-assed job of his kitchen duty? Well, no cleanup elves showed up last night: when I wasn’t running between kids who needed my help, I was cleaning up the kitchen. E even came in and offered to help – she scrubbed the little sink while I scrubbed the big one. Somehow the morning passed quickly and I put out the ingredients for PB&J sandwiches along with some raw veggies. Each kid came up to me and asked, “Will you make me a sandwich?” to which I answered, “No. I think you can do it yourself.”

They did. For twenty blissful minutes the kids made their lunch and ate it.

I’m having a hard time recalling what happened next. I know I printed out some worksheets for N and put them in a folder for him to work on independently. When I refused to extend her screen time, E went downstairs and busied herself with scissors, glue, and paper. I think K did some more math work. I’m positive R spent time throwing a tantrum because… well, I don’t know why. It started when I told her to go read the next two chapters in her book for novel study, but it feels like the tantrum was really about something much bigger. We’re all under stress here – and R is exquisitely sensitive to the moods of others. I snuggled her for a while, but after twenty-five minutes I had to leave her in her room to cry it out til she was done — other children needed me too.

When everyone was good and ready for another outdoor recess, I called Baskin-Robbins and explained that we were self-isolating, but we really wanted a polar pizza (it’s a cookie crust topped with ice cream and cookie chunks and yummmmm…). If we biked over, could she hand us a pizza at the door? Turns out that yes, she could. I handed over the money, she handed over the treat, and we had a lovely little conversation (standing 10 feet apart on the sidewalk) about how business has been affected by COVID.

Back at home, the kids couldn’t wait to eat their treat (honestly, neither could I.) Mr. December came upstairs from his office and we had a lovely little ice cream break around the table before going back to our own pursuits.

I had a moment after dinner when I could not handle people anymore. Mr. December and the kids were goofing around nearby when I raised my head and snarled, “I think you all should go somewhere else now,” and they backed off. Oh, well. I was patient all day, even during tantrums and yelling. I really just needed quiet and solitude.

So all in all, today was a good day. It could have been the sunny morning, or maybe the fact that I actually took my Ritalin. Or maybe my kids were particularly cooperative this morning?

…. Nah. Definitely the Ritalin. Say yes to drugs, kids!

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