Kudos To Everyone Helping Kids Get Through Virtual School


This is a huge thank-you note to all those parents, stepparents, grandparents and other caregivers who have made the difficult yet selfless decision to keep their children home from school until it’s safe, despite having a full-time job, a part-time job or any life whatsoever.

I don’t know how you’re doing it.

As I watched my daughter’s hair turn gray strand by strand, I offered to step in for a few days, even though this meant homeschooling via the dreaded Zoom. Well, it’s not Zoom’s fault. Thank goodness for it. It’s that kindergarten via Zoom is no kindergarten at all.

After limiting her children’s screen time to the bare minimum for most of their short lives, my daughter now has to subject 5-year-old Tess to six hours of “kindergarten screen time” per day where she is one of only two children not in the classroom and is often left staring at a blank chalkboard when the teacher ventures into the classroom-at-large which, believe me, is a lot. She can’t see her classmates at all.

Now 8, Skippy is actually doing better online than he did in class because all of his friends can’t distract him. Of course, he has a loose tooth to wiggle, so not everything is boring, but he misses the boy-bonding tremendously. And it’s not as if there are sports to take up that slack. There aren’t.

So here is how our day went;

7 a.m. — Grandpa makes scrambled eggs, wakes up the kids and plants them in front of their iPads by 8 a.m.

8 a.m. — I emerge from the bedroom looking like I slept in the school parking lot and take over. Skippy is brandishing two toy swords at the screen (he is not allowed weapons at home), and Tess is watching her class through a magnifying glass she found lying around. The items are confiscated (just like real school).

9 a.m. — “We’re hungry!” As I make a snack, Tess comes in saying she is embarrassed and not going to do school anymore. Why? Her brother took a screen shot of her leg and put it up as her background “wallpaper,” and now she feels everyone in her class saw her “naked.” I chastise Skippy and talk her down.

10 a.m. — Skippy uses up two of our printer cartridges printing out several hundred copies of a picture he drew. “They’re for you!” he exudes. “Sorry there’s no color.” Tess shouts from the living room, “Grandma! I’m taping your scissors closed so no one gets hurt!” I feel a headache starting up.

11 a.m. — In two seconds flat, I must dig through both backpacks for a bingo board (not in there), an alligator clip (not in there) and a pair of dice (thank you, Yahtzee, I promise I’ll return them). The teacher is trying to call the bingo game, but Tess finally gets her attention. “Yes, Tess?” Tess: “I have a cookie.”

Noon —  Lunch. Fish sticks for the kids; Excedrin for me.

1 p.m. — Tess’s art teacher takes 10 minutes showing the kids how to cut a tree trunk from black construction paper. While she’s doing that, Tess raids my craft room and, in eight minutes, creates a Christmas tree montage complete with pom-pons and glitter ball ornaments. Well, it is a tree.

2 p.m. — The final descent into madness. Skippy yanks out his tooth, effectively distracting the entire class. Tess quits school, choosing instead to curl up with my extremely frail antique copy of Goethe, in German. As it often does with Goethe, the discussion soon turns to baton twirlers. Tess: “That is what band is really about. Well, I sort of like the marching band, except for the uniforms — they don’t have much fashion.”

Maybe I’m wasting my time. Who needs school when you’re that observant?

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