We Really Do Need Each Other
Yesterday, I had a refrigerator delivered. (Yes, I bought a refrigerator during a global pandemic. Yes, my appliances have spent the last year turning against me. My husband has been hospitalized multiple times during the last year. Every time he’s in the hospital, something expensive breaks. My washer and dryer, dishwasher, phone, furnace and now refrigerator have all been replaced within the last year and every time these disasters have struck, he has been in the hospital.) Anyway, back to the delivery….when other humans entered my home, I started telling them my life story. Who cares if they are delivery guys? Who cares if they just want to drop off this fridge and get the heck out of the house of a crazy woman? Who cares? At least they were pleasant. They smiled and nodded and connected the ice maker while I chattered on.
It made me realize just how much I have missed people. This virus has stopped our social lives in their tracks. I have Zoomed with friends and family and I’ve had a few driveway dates with my bestie--in chairs spaced far apart-- but I still long for normal connections. My house is the usually the party house. I love having people over. When the stay at home orders were issued, I understood the importance of keeping the circle small and secluding ourselves, especially in light of my husband’s compromised health condition. It seemed like it might have even been a little bit fun---being trapped in our house like a really long snow day. Well, we all know that isn’t how this feels at all.
We are made for community. We need our friends and family. How often have we heard that it takes a village to raise a child? Never has that statement made more sense. I mean, we all know that play dates aren’t just about the kids, right? We choose other likeminded families to have our kids socialize with so the grownups can visit too! When this stay at home order is eased, I hope it makes us even more thankful for those connections we have with other people.
For now, let’s continue to reach out. It might be because WE need the connection to others. It might be because we know that our friends need us like never before. My sister has been zooming with my grandkids to read a bedtime story. Just hearing her voice and seeing her face has been so good for me. A few days ago, I got a real card in the actual mail from my friend’s daughter. Knowing that she was thinking of us and took the time and effort to write a note made my day. Yesterday, another dear friend dropped off a care package that had chocolate, peach tea, and new notepads and scented pencils for the littles. That gesture may have been small to her, but it was HUGE to me. And those driveway chats with my bestie? Just the balm this weary heart needed to make it through another day of new normal.
Draw that sidewalk chalk message on your grandparent’s driveway. Stick a note on your neighbor’s door. Zoom or face time with people you love. Celebrate a birthday with a honking parade. Hide a little gift outside for your friend’s kids and then text them to let them know to look for it. You can probably think of all kinds of ways to connect creatively with your people. And when this is over? I hope we will remember—at least for a while—to fully appreciate the little things that we all know now are the big things.
As many of you know, I homeschooled both of my children from K-12th grade. I now have the privilege of helping to homeschool my grandkids. I consider myself a veteran in the homeschooling world and I feel like I have enough authority on the subject to offer some advice to those of you who suddenly became their child’s teacher.
First of all, you aren’t homeschooling. Homeschooling looks a lot different from what you are doing right now. Real homeschoolers go places and interact with others and rarely are trying to teach their children while they “work from home” like many of you are forced to do now. You, my friends, are quarantine schooling and that is a whole different animal. Quarantine schooling is all about survival.
When this pandemic started to get real, my son and daughter in law and I had a serious conversation. Since my DIL is nurse and I am the primary babysitter we knew that the kids would be exposed to a lot of germs from her work. My husband has had some severe health problems over the last year, so his immune system is really compromised. The decision was made to have the littles come live with us for a while to avoid exposing him to extra germs.
Even though we homeschool, what we are doing now, is much harder. We can’t ride our bikes to the library. We can’t go to a program at the Miami County Park District. We can’t watch a show at Victoria Theater. For most of you, this is even more difficult than it is for us. Many of you are trying to work from home while you answer questions about Common Core math. (And let’s face it, if you aren’t a teacher, you probably can’t really answer that!) Even if you aren’t trying to hold down a job, you are trying to take school material that was designed to be taught in a classroom and adapt it to some worksheets that you print at home.
Here’s my advice: There is no worksheet you can complete that will have educational value if you are yelling and your child is crying. I don’t say that to make you feel guilty—I totally get the frustration you must be feeling. I say that to tell you to give yourself and your kids some grace. If you feel yourself getting to that point, send them outside to jump on the trampoline. They can spell their spelling words aloud with every bounce. Write a message to your neighbor on their driveway in sidewalk chalk. It might not be the writing that was assigned, but it still has value in terms of spelling and writing. Even better, it might brighten someone else’s day and the skills you are teaching about how to care for others is a really good lesson.
Right now, my grandkids are watching a movie and eating popcorn. Yes, it is 9am. No, we don’t usually do that. But last night was a little rocky around here and we had a late bedtime and I made promises that I don’t usually make. Do I feel guilty about it? Nope. Not one bit. Later, we’ll do a little school work and I might read a few chapters of a new book that they’re interested in. They’ll tune in to the Cincinnati Zoo Home Safari and learn about some cool animals. We might watch a Youtube video to learn how to draw that animal afterward. Does this look like a normal school day? Nope. But that’s okay, because really, there’s nothing normal about this time we’re living in.
Do what you need to do to get through this with as few tears as possible. There’s no judgment here, friends. And if all else fails and you let them watch a movie first thing in the morning, relax and take it easy on yourself. But if you do, can you leave me a comment so I don’t feel like I’m the only one doing crazy stuff to survive?
Hi! I'm Janet and I've been the Director of the Before and After School and Smart Start Preschool Programs at the Troy Rec since 1994. My hubby and I have been married 30 years and we have two grown sons. Each of them is married and blessing us with grandchildren left and right. Life is good even when the nest is empty!