E-learning officially started in my house this morning, with both my big kids starting Term 2 online rather than in a physical classroom. There was a fair amount of panicking about technology working or not working, scrambling around for sharpened pencils, and some hissing about not wanting their toddler sister anywhere near where they were working. Eventually, they settled down, but by the time the “school day” was over, both Miss 14 and Master Eight were bleary-eyed and exhausted. That was the only familiar part of the first day back to school — that they’re tired from the effort of readjusting to the routine, and all the brain work, after time off.
It’s weird to try to get my kids into a routine when I don’t even have one, myself. I’ve been trying, since this lockdown began, to impose a structure on my days — and my kids’ days — but it’s impossible. And it took me two weeks of being isolated at home to realise why it’s impossible. Because we’re all feeling really “off”, and nothing has been able to fix that feeling, and we can’t do what we usually do to help us to feel better. I suppose in time we’ll find ways to accommodate and adjust to whatever the “new normal” turns out to be. Humans are very adaptable, as a species.
While our kids’ educational system is being reinvented seemingly on the fly, parents are also trying to figure out how to organise our disrupted, and narrowed, lives. We’re trying to work and help with our kids’ schoolwork and find time to vacuum the lounge and then there’s the whole supermarket situation… Is anyone else wiping down all their groceries before bringing them inside the house? That business takes HOURS. Even sending my kids up to our letterbox is accompanied by a litany: “Don’t touch anything but the letterbox, don’t go near anyone, if anyone is coming down the footpath, walk back down the driveway away from them, wash your hands as soon as you get back.”
The other day, a courier came to our house (to drop off some medical equipment, don’t yell at me) and it was like Santa Claus coming down the chimney at Christmas. We all lined up on the porch to smile and wave to the driver as he nervously eyed us from the cab of his van. He was wearing a face mask and gloves, and he looked worried as he slowly opened the door and brought the parcel to our front steps. “We won’t come near!” I shouted, smiling maniacally. “We’re just happy to see you! Thank you!” He nodded and hightailed it back to his van. I bet he sees this scene replay over and over in the coming weeks, as we’re all starved for company other than that of our “bubble”.
Thank YOU, Kiwi parents, for all that you are doing to keep yourselves and each other safe. I know we’re bored, and scared, and frazzled, and wanting this to be over yet wanting to be sure we’re all safe before we venture further than the end of our own street. Thanks for reading my words. You’re the only adult conversation I’ve had today, and I’m grateful.