THE SONIC BOOMER
Perhaps you’ve heard of Zoom, a video-conferencing app which, until now, invaded my life only as far as its TV commercials could take me.
But now I’ve offered to take the grandchildren a couple days at a time so their poor parents can get some work done. The first time I did this, I ignored Zoom and all their schoolwork, and it was a fun time for all. But my daughter Jen had to make up for that when she got them back, and it only made her life worse.
So today, I said I’d take them and make sure their schoolwork got done. My degree in education would serve me well, I thought. Jen arranged all their papers, according to which child and which deadline, and the pile almost made it onto my kitchen table before the child carrying it tripped and it flew everywhere, and neither kid would lay claim to any of it after that.
By clicking on a number of icons, I successfully found 7-year-old Skippy’s online assignments and successfully got him through most of them. I was pumped. Then I realized his Zoom time had passed. As far as his teacher knew, he was absent.
I vowed not to make the same mistake with 5-year-old Tess, setting the alarm on my phone for two minutes before her “class” started.
Two minutes was not enough. What I needed was 25 minutes and a degree in computer science, something that had not yet been invented when I got my degree, and something that high school counselors would never have suggested as a major to female students back then even if it had.
But I bravely sat down with Tess and her iPad at 1:58 p.m. and clicked on the Zoom icon. “What is your ID? Your password? Your teacher’s phone number?” IDK! (That means “I Don’t Know,” although the exclamation point is mine, all mine.)
I frantically texted Jen and she got me on, then hung up before I was able to read that the teacher was involved in another conference. Well, was it Tessie’s conference? No way to tell. By madly punching keys and swiping icons, I accidentally got the kid to her class — and only five minutes late. Here’s what Tess learned: it really doesn’t matter what time you get to school. (Here’s what Skippy learned: if grandma’s stressed, it’s easy to slip away and play games on your iPad.)
The pre-kindergarten teacher was having them look for things in the kitchen that start with P. Tess dumped my utensil drawer onto the floor and then came up with pen. It had been sitting on the counter. Then the teacher told them to find something that looked like a triangle, or close. Now my screen is filled with little ones brandishing scissors, knives and blades of all kinds, making sure to hold them up to their faces so the teacher can see. Yikes!
Next, the teacher told them to start making shapes with their Play-Doh. Jen had forgotten this small detail. “Play-Doh?! I’m just a grandma,” I shouted at the screen, forgetting she could hear me. “I don’t have any Play-Doh!”
“I’ll use ‘P’aints!” Tess offered, squeezing huge ‘P’iles of my expensive oils onto a ‘P’aper ‘P’late.
The teacher called on her. “What are you making, Tess?” she asked sweetly.
“A mess!” I screamed, hair flying and, again, forgetting I was not railing at a mere TV set.
Somehow, we got through an hour of class time. It may have been a three-hour class, however, IDK! The iPad battery died, and I let it. Fine! May both of us rest in peace.