Adventures in Mom School


Dear Diary,

My four year old is living her best life right now.

For the past year, I have greeted her in the morning only to be asked the same question: is it a work day or a stay home day? She loves it when her family is home together, especially when mom is involved. Sometimes she gets very upset that it isn’t a stay home day, but for the most part she deals and looks forward to the weekend. We had one brief episode where she informed me that we didn’t need any more toys, that I could stop buying things and quit my job. Bless. So, this week, with dad working from home, mom working from home, brothers schooling from home, well she is living it up on top.

All Images: Sarah Pinault

Like many across the country, our household was thrown into chaos this week. While we didn’t run out of toilet paper, we were suddenly thrown into a situation that we were not prepared for. While my husband clickety-clacked his way to work, I figured out how to work from home, teach fifth grade, teach second grade, and corral an exuberant pre-schooler. *A note here, because I can see my dad’s eyes roll, we did this with a lot of help!

At first I ran at it head long, with a can do attitude, an order of supplies in my Amazon cart, and butcher paper across the wall detailing every schedule for every grade level.

As any homeschooler will tell you, the plan went out the window mid morning on the first day. By day three, we were on our fifth set of scheduling, wall covered with multi colored (though not color coded) sticky notes, which is when the school started sending stuff home for us. By day four, we had a routine, a rhythm, an early morning panic attack from mom, and by day five we were all ready for a real stay home day.

So on day 6, when this two week social experiment suddenly became a six week social experiment, I am forced to rethink my whole world view. Luckily Trader Joe’s was not out of wine.

I always planned on being a stay at home mom, but I’m not. I never planned on being a homeschooler, but now, I am. Well, a substitute homeschooler, I’ll be the first to admit that those “for real” homeschooling families have mad skills, and can rock a K-12 curriculum, while I am just in it for the sprint back to school grounds. I am by nature a catastrophizer, and thought I had played out all my potential home school scenarios. At the back of my mind, I have been preparing for something like this for two years. My second grader has ADHD, he reads at a fifth grade level, and does math almost into fourth grade. His reading of choice this week was An Astounding Atlas of Altered States by Michael J. Trinklein, a nonfiction book ostensibly for adults about all the states that did not come to be within this great nation, like West Florida and Lower California. So for two years or so, I have been pondering the thought that come Middle school, I may very well be quitting my job to stay home with him. Well color me COVID, I thought I had played out every scenario.

Honestly, at the end of week one, it wasn’t all that bad. My kids are good kids, who like to learn. My husband and I have jobs that can be fairly easily done at home. We have local parents for support. We have tech savvy friends who zoom evening chats. I have a whole fleet of moms on Facebook, all in the same boat, or already homeschooling and sharing their best tips. We are well aware of how exceptionally fortunate we are in all of these things.

So we start week two with our home school “schedule” set in chalk. Mom school in the morning, and Granddad school in the afternoon. Mom gets Brain Quest, yoga, and packets from school. Granddad gets reading, and strategy board games. Mom gets Story Pirates, and art class with Mo Willems. Granddad gets Prodigy, Scratch and the Cincinnati Zoo live stream. Dad gets supper, and laundry, and clean up, and bath time, and bedtime. Mom gets a big cup of tea and Little Fires Everywhere. In the meantime, the bus drivers bring us packets of material, diligently prepped by elementary school angels. We get story time on Facebook with teachers, and principals. We get to “zoom” a classroom. Day Four’s meltdown, caused by the impending arrival of packets of work from school, taught us that if we skip something we shouldn’t worry about it. And in between everything we wash our hands, and cough into our elbows.

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