Day 19 of full remote-instruction.

Dear Diary,

Thanksgiving break has come to an end, and now we venture into the knowns and unknowns of December. Finally, the last month of the train wreck of 2020, as I’ve heard others put it, has arrived.

What I know about December is that the air will become colder, causing Pennsylvanians to bundle up tighter, our children’s excitement for Christmas celebrations will grow, our evening trips around the neighborhood will bring delightful entertainment of Christmas lights and decorations, and I will see a ridiculous increase in the number of elves making appearances in Google Meet.

The unknowns of December 2020 can cause a tad bit of anxiety or concern, but the unknown and what I can’t control have always resulted in feelings of distress. Thankfully, I have my toolkit ready, full of strategies to properly deal with the ugliness anxiety brings. Some of my anxiety-inducing thoughts include:

Will we return IP next week as scheduled, despite alarming spikes in positive cases?

Will my children’s district return IP next week as scheduled, despite alarming spikes in positive cases?

If any one of us would contract the virus, how would our bodies respond? How will our bodies respond long term? Will Oscar have a more severe response than the rest of us would because of his underlying heart condition? How would I even quarantine my children without contracting the virus myself?

Next Monday the kids get their flu shots. Will I have to hold them both down, as they struggle to free themselves before the nurse stabs them with the vaccine?

One of my family’s big Christmas celebrations was already canceled; will we still be able to visit the other side of the family as normal over Christmas?

Will I be able to stay 6’ apart from the keys that lead to me to Amazon purchases?

Will our current virtual learning for our household continue to find success at home through a possible extended closure?

The week of Thanksgiving surprised my family with a household of virtual education. Two of us teaching; the other two learning. On the first day, my aunt graciously gave her time to manage the kids’ remote-learning situations while I packaged up loads of art supplies at one of our closed schools. I am thankful for this beyond measure.

We must continue virtual education through the end of the first week of December; each of our districts scheduled to return in-person on December 7. We have set ourselves up in different locations around our house to ensure quiet workspaces. Doug has the entire basement living space to himself, Estella in her bedroom at her father’s childhood desk, Oscar on the couch with the coffee table as his makeshift desk, and I am next door to him at the kitchen table. Up to this point, there were times during my remote-teaching where I sometimes thought to myself, “where are your grown-ups, young artist?” This typically enters my mind when I might be witnessing siblings invading other siblings’ work areas and annoying the one learning, when the learner is making silly faces or noises for the entire class on the screen, or as I watch a living room or bedroom transformed into a carnival bounce house. When I’ve caught myself thinking this, I often countered with, “Everyone has a different working situation right now, be flexible, keep teaching and learning.”

Now that I’ve experienced this firsthand with my own children at home, Oscar in particular, I understand that the struggle is real. Over the 3 days of my own children learning at home with me in close physical proximity, I have heard my child say, “look at my feet, look at my feet,” and calling his teacher “Miss Wimpydimple” instead of Miss W. because he said another child says that, telling his teacher that he doesn’t have crayons (when they are literally right behind him) or a snack (which he can help himself to in the kitchen), or making the strangest sounds…all of these things I cringe at both as an embarrassed parent and as an newly baptized virtual teacher. By the way, this was a baptism not by the gentle hands of a Lutheran pastor, but by the end of a fire hose.