The other day, my 9-year-old scientist was telling me all the ways this quarantine situation is actually going to be good for the environment in the long run, and I was like, I am supposed to be this kid’s teacher now??
How’s everybody else doing out there?
Here in Kentucky, we’ve been social distancing for 3 weeks now. If I’m an optimist, I figure we might be halfway through (at least this phase) of this thing. On heavier days, I recognize we might be just getting started and I don’t like doing that much math, even on a good day. In any case– we are where we are. And for some of us, that means that in addition to the stress and anxiety of a pandemic–the reckoning with mortality and all that– we are ALSO trying to work full time from home while feeding kids 3 meals a day (and thereby washing hella dishes) and also– I say also– becoming overnight homeschool teachers when, like I say, some of us can barely do math in the very best of circumstances.
And this work/school juggling act is for the lucky among us who are still able to work right now, can still count on a paycheck. Whatever your situation, these are heavy loads. Which is why I ask: How’s everybody doing out there?
The answer probably varies day by day, if not hour by hour. But I’m here to take at least one worry from your long list right now, if I may… how about we give our collective selves a break on the formal education expectations?
For starters, I found this post from my friend Heather very helpful. Heather is a scientist and a college professor, so she’s got actual receipts. I trust her gut and her experience, and found these insights helpful and hopeful. This is a time for nurturing curiosity; not mastering skills.
Let’s just assume that as long as our kids are reading; getting daily movement, food and sunlight; and regularly engaging with people as best as we can manage it; they are getting what they need right now. Our school district, thankfully, has hustled hard to get an online learning program in place, and what’s more, to get a computer to every kid in the district who needs one. I am blown away, and grateful, and we will be all in for participating in this opportunity. But even if this approach is not available in your area, then take comfort in this: the most important lesson your kids need to learn right now is not going to come from a book, and it has nothing to do with numbers. They are learning possibly THE most important life skill just by living through these times.
They are learning resilience.
And believe it or not, they are learning it from you. No really! You do not have to be handling this perfectly, or even well. The point is, you are being an adult and handling it. You are making the best of a bad situation. You are prioritizing your family’s wellbeing, even if it’s hard– so hard– and you are making do. You are recalibrating and adjusting to a new normal that, a month ago, would have sounded absurd. You are navigating a reality that has never been modeled for you.
Even on the days you royally screw up and fall short of the “making lemons out of lemonade” deal– you are dealing. You might even be thinking outside of your own immediate crisis and trying to find ways to help your neighbors in need (separate blog post, stay tuned). On a good day, you may be getting creative about any number of things–from cooking to outdoor activity to staying connected with friends and family. The point is, your kids are learning that life goes on, even when it is not what we imagined, hoped or planned for.
And Lord, y’all… is there anything better or more important for a kid to learn than that?
Whatever life looks like in your house right now, the kids are learning to be resilient. They are learning the gifts of adaptation and revision. They are witnessing the many ways that we can see past a hardship and plan for a better days; to live into a new reality and keep breathing when things get hard. The ability to evolve through struggle is possibly the greatest gift of the human spirit. In that regard, the world is their classroom right now. And you are their greatest teacher.
Kids are already stronger than we know. They bounce. As parents, our greatest hope is that they never have to experience trauma or tragedy. But of course they will. They are experiencing trauma right now, and at some point in their life, tragedy will find them again. What an incredible gift you are giving them right now– the ability to look beyond the present struggle and trust there are better days ahead. And the strength to keep moving in the meantime.
None of us are doing everything perfectly right now. Hell, we aren’t doing anything perfectly right now. But if we can teach them this one thing, it will be enough. Hang in there. You are not alone.