It’s seven o’clock and I’m completely brain dead. I can’t even imagine how my kids feel, but they’re resilient. Or so I’m told.
We’ve been at this online school thing for three and a half weeks now, and the kids are just getting the hang of the new routine. I have to say: their schools have been amazing, considering. We get regular updates from the teachers and the administration. The schedules are mostly clear-cut and consistent. They were able to keep classes like PE and art and band in the curriculum, despite the challenges of teaching an 11-year-old to play the flute via video call or organizing a virtual dance party for 35 fourth graders. I’m cautiously optimistic.
Still, keeping them on task requires the kind of creative energy I normally save for my own work. Instead of outlining a new story, I’m populating multiple Google calendars with class times, appointments, homework check-ins, Taekwondo practices (outside in the park as long as the weather holds), library book pick-ups, and online playdates. Instead of sending my characters on adventures, I’m moderating conflicts between siblings and leading long discussions on Internet safety.
We won’t even talk about meals and snacks, and how much energy goes into making sure everybody is eating well and nobody’s blood sugar is crashing at the wrong time. A friend pointed out that I’ve always lived comfortably enough that these kind of mental gymnastics are new for me. She was right; I’m using parts of my brain I’ve never needed before. It’s a humbling thought.
This afternoon I stood in the kitchen for a full three minutes just staring at the glass in my hand. I couldn’t remember what I meant to do with it. Fill it? Put it in the dishwasher? Set it on the counter? I felt drained, like I’d been working nonstop, and I didn’t even have anything to show for it. No stories, no blog posts, hardly even a Facebook status.
On the other hand, my sixth grader is done with his homework, and my fourth grader is happily reading a new library book. They both know when they need to be online tomorrow morning. They stuffed their faces with spaghetti at dinner and if they haven’t wiped off their milk mustaches, well, some battles aren’t worth fighting right now.
And I did manage to write this, so maybe these mental gymnastics are just the sort of exercise I need to stretch my mind.