Here in the grand, wonderful, rising-tide-of-Covid-infections state of Georgia, we’re getting ready to start up the new school year. None of us are too enthusiastic. Everything feels weird, off-kilter. As if we’re living in some odd alternate reality where education must go on like everything is normal while everything is NOT normal at all!
Earlier I told the kids we would start school next week. Probably not going to happen. Even our local school district pushed back the date until the 17th after their agonizing produced a convoluted school opening. It’s so complicated I don’t get it – something about alternating days for 4th grade and up, teens on a different schedule, and K-3rd will be going in-person for 5 days a week. Like I said, complicated. Plus the virtual option. Parents and teachers are really getting a bad deal here.
But we’re homeschooling, so it shouldn’t matter, right? Sort of.
A permanent state of meh
We’re living in a global pandemic. Uncertainty and fear are high, especially in our household. The undercurrent isn’t discussed as much as it was in the beginning of the pandemic, but all of the kids are worried about me getting sick. The bursts of tears from my 7yo and the questions of “is Mommy going to die?” have stopped, but only because it’s exhausting to keep discussing it.
Our lives are curtailed, living closeted and stifled without friends or family. We live alone, wave to the neighbors, and occasionally deliver cookies to them just so I can give the kids a little human interaction. Life is a new normal, where everyone is potentially germy and being unmasked feels naked.
I live swamped in a sea of ever-unreal news stories, going from “this-cannot-be-happening!” to “please-tell-me-this-is-a-nightmare.” During this entire pandemic I have realized that I am considered expendable, and that most people truly only care about themselves. Call me idealist, but that hit rather hard. I had more belief in my fellow-human’s decency than I should have.
Academics pale in importance
All of that considered, academics are a second-rate problem. Math problems aren’t going anywhere. The world won’t end if their spelling doesn’t improve. Their mental health, and mine, are far more important than drudging through lesson plans and science experiments.
I don’t know what our school year is going to look like. I have a pile of books ready, and a vague plan that I discussed with the kids. I always involve them, but this year they’re just as non-committal as I am. All I know is that they don’t want to do school. That they want to continue their idyllic summer of video games, swimming, and playing outside.
This isn’t me
I’m never this way. Even when I took a more unschooling approach with my oldest, I still had a road map. A plan. Goals to meet, field trips to explore, and topics to pique interests. I’m fuzzily sludgy right now, drudging through our days in a haze of anxiety and meh. Right now, my goal – if you can call it that – is to emerge on the other side of the Covid-19 nightmare without permanently scarred children.
I probably sound depressed, writing this. Not really. I’m busy – my neighbor called me a workaholic after waving to me yet again, when I was weeding the flower bed. “You always seem to be out here doing something in the yard!” she exclaimed. I smiled and laughed, and didn’t tell her that it’s my therapy. My anxiety “medication” is dirt. Self-prescribed, effective only in large doses.
You are not alone
Why am I sharing this? It makes me look lazy, disorganized, or unrealistic. Why would I tell anyone that I’m unmotivated and casual about homeschooling? Because I’m not the only one. Because there are tons of new homeschoolers out there worried to death that their kids will fall behind, that they’ll fail, that life will crash and fall and things will be ruined.
Breathe, people. It’s a global pandemic. EVERYONE will be behind. Everyone is struggling. Everyone thinks things are ruined and horrible and difficult and awful, and most important, they think that they’re the only one.
You’re not. We’re all in the same boat of uncertainty spiraling crazily down a river of one bad thing after another. Let’s just get to the other side in one piece. Then we can worry about math problems.