Argh. My wee bairn has a G-I appointment in Everett tomorrow at 8:30… which means we need to leave by 7:30 because of traffic, and that means that I need to be up at 6:15 to hook my wee bairn up for his morning feed. It’s not like I’m a massive insomniac or anything…
Oh yeah… pray REALLY hard that Daniel keeps his mask on and doesn’t touch every freaking surface before touching his face. *packs a 32 oz. bottle of Germ-X in my purse* (Why yes, I *DO* have some bottles that size. Being an alcohol gel nazi prepared me for this pandemic.)
School take #1. I’ve been having conversations with Daniel’s teachers for next year, and he’ll have Zoom groups a few times a day with other kids. My kid hates Zoom. Woooohoooooo!!!! He will have an hour a day of one-on-one time with one of the paraprofessionals, and she can thankfully break that up into chunks.
School take #2. Kids will only have direct learning on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. This means that Wednesday is for indirect learning… and also for me to have as my main workday as I won’t be having to supervise Daniel’s Zoom sessions that day. I’m thankful that I don’t have to set my tutoring schedule for the fall for a few weeks.
School take #3. I picked up Daniel’s Chromebook yesterday. All students are getting one checked out to them for the year as we have no idea how long we’ll be doing remote learning (a.k.a. school at home). For me, this means that I won’t have to have him do school on my laptop. I also just ordered a wireless mouse and headphones off of Amazon for him.
School take #4. Because this is me, I’m flipping out about my kid having a meltdown at having to sit and do stuff on Zoom… forgetting that he’s going to be in a class of kids with autism who also probably don’t want to be on Zoom either, so he won’t be the only kid yelling that he’s “ALL DONE!!!!!!!!!!!”
Update to last week. The CZU Lightning Complex fire is a mile from Upper Campus of my alma mater. My Girl Scout camp and church camp both have fire damage, and part of my Girl Scout camp was used/is being used for staging by CalFire. So far, the redwood trees at Big Basin State Park are OK, but all the infrastructure took damage. (My dad has commented that this means some of the poison oak is hopefully gone.)
Because of the pandemic, the camps didn’t have any kids there, so evacuation needs were minimal. This is, I think, the only good news about this dumpster fire of a year.
Second thing: SHAME ON ALL OF YOU WHO ARE MAKING CATTY COMMENTS ABOUT TEACHERS BEING LAZY BECAUSE SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE OVERWHELMINGLY CHOOSING TO START BACK WITH DISTANCE LEARNING IN THE FALL!!! None of the teachers I know are happy that it’s what is having to be done, and all of them miss their kids fiercely. These are already people who are being asked to teach a variety of kids while not being given the resources to do it adequately in addition to being asked to act as human shields in the event of a school shooting. None of them are paid nearly enough to also be put at risk of dying a miserable death from a virus we are still figuring out how to control. (The “novel” in “novel coronavirus” means that is is “new” and that we still know too little about it to control it well.)
I have known since around Memorial Day that it was a very slim chance of Daniel returning to in-person education this fall because of my family’s COVID-19 risk factor. My parents are elderly, my mom is being hit with some health challenges at the moment, and both Daniel and I have some pretty scary underlying health issues that put us at severe risk of complications if we were to contract the virus. My parents and I discussed it at length and tried coming up with some contingency plans in the event that Daniel did return to school with other kids, and there was no good solution. I have prepped everything this summer in what I call the “Schroedinger’s cat model” which was that Daniel was either going to be there in person or he was not going to be there in person, but we were going to plan for both eventualities to exist.
The local school district is offering some in-person options for kids who need it for reasons, but it will be remote learning for almost everybody this fall. What will that look like for Daniel? Hard to say. I will be contacting his new teacher either tomorrow or next week to see if we can have an IEP meeting via Zoom to talk about this. In fact, I predict a lot of IEP Zoom meetings will be happening in the district over this next month as teachers try to figure out how to adapt each student’s IEP goals to the remote education model.
What does this mean for me? Well, I’ll have to explain to one of my students who is Internet-phobic that they will not see my beautiful face in person for the foreseeable future… and they will not be happy. (If I’m lucky, they won’t drunk-dial me again for reassurance, and I won’t have to have my kinda-sorta new boss put the fear of Jesus in them. Not that this happened during Spring Break…) My current boss will possibly have more one-on-one hours to give me than I can legally accept, and I might get lent out to the entire campus again or (God willing) embedded with my favorite instructor to teach people how to love Accounting.
Part of me *REALLY* wants to lambast the idiotic COVID-19 protests that have been taking place all over the country with people failing to practice social distancing, not wearing masks, and carrying around assault weapons. (Do you want COVID-19? Because that’s how you get COVID-19. That last thing also makes you look like terrorists, y’all. Just sayin’.) However, that would not be good reading, and I’ve used up my allotted anger energy for the day on my cranky child who is walking into my room and messing with various things on my desk. (It’s the point in the day when his ADHD meds are wearing off, and I can’t give him his night meds for another half hour. Kiddo is also working through a bowel blockage and we’re tweaking his autism meds, so he’s extra foul.)
So… here’s a list of things I’m going to do once all of the lockdown measures are (responsibly) lifted.
Send my kid to school. I have never wanted to homeschool, and it has been an exercise in frustration for both of us because he doesn’t want to learn at home. Learning happens at school… and he takes a bus there, so what the fur?!?!?!? (Autistic kids thrive on routine, and my kiddo’s routine got severely messed up when schools were closed.
Have a family gathering to celebrate my 40th birthday… and probably my nephew’s 2nd birthday. We do get to Facebook video chat with them on Saturday afternoons, but it isn’t the same as chasing him around the downstairs, having tickle fights with him, and playing “5 Little Monkeys” with him.
We got word today that schools in Washington will remain closed for the rest of the year. Kids who need it will still get food (which is good because we have a lot of kids of migrant workers here), and instruction will be taking place online. Schools are checking out Chromebooks for their students to use, and teachers have had to figure out how to put the rest of their curriculum for the year online.
This is what you homeschooling parents can do that will be incredibly helpful for people like me:
KEEP YOUR MOUTHS TIGHTLY SHUT ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU *LOVE* HOMESCHOOLING YOUR KIDS UNLESS WE ASK FOR YOUR OPINION OR YOUR HELP.
Seriously, if we wanted to homeschool our kids, WE WOULD ALREADY BE DOING IT.
Our kids’ teachers are better resources than you because they actually *KNOW* our kids, know their learning styles, know their deficient areas, and (in Daniel’s case) have special degrees and certifications in working with kids like ours. ALL OF THEM are being extra brilliant and supporting parents like me in ways that we need that you are not qualified (nor wanted) to do. Failing that, I have other friends who have done an amazing job homeschooling their own kids that I will ask for help if I need it.
Talking about how wonderful homeschooling is to parents like me who are in their own personal version of hell will get you verbally ripped apart. I have an autistic kid who would go to his brick-and-mortar school seven days a week if he could–I’m having to try and work with him in a context that is utterly wrong to him. It is hell on earth, and you aren’t helping me. In fact, you are making me want to kill you.
Many of us are also balancing our own outside-the-home jobs over conference calls at the moment, and having to teach our children is ONE MORE THING on top of a workload that does not lend itself well to being done from home. Some of us, like me, also find leaving our physical houses to work to be something mentally healthy, and hearing about how wonderful it is to work from home will make us stabby.
By all means, please continue to blog about what you are doing with your kids. Just please knock it off with the posts about how parents in my situation will come to love homeschooling and “this is how you can keep doing it!”
My governor has just extended the stay at home order for another month, so kiddo just got another week or two off of school. Thankfully, every teacher in Washington has worked up their curriculum to take place on Google Classroom and/or a few other classroom management systems like ClassDojo.
In the spirit of this, I thought I would share some of my favorite mnemonic devices. (Why yes, I *AM* a geek!)
Here in Washington, we are under a shelter-in-place order until Holy Week, and it will likely get extended until the COVID-19 situation is resolved. (45’s plan to reopen things for Easter isn’t going to happen in these parts. Even if things did, I’m not resuming a normal life until *ACTUAL* epidemiologists recommend it, not a failed businessman and reality star.) I was already under a more restrictive shelter-in-place than existed before the one in Washington went into effect, so this was nothing new. Since I could probably enumerate the ways this situation stinks, I thought I would turn that on its head and talk about some *GOOD* things that are coming of this.
I’m developing an entirely new skill set. I had used Zoom twice before March 11th when I had to suddenly become a power user for work. I had never done a live post on Facebook until March 15th. I am now teaching people how to use both, and I am contributing to putting my church’s worship service online from home. (I had to make the decision not to be there in person to record last Saturday, and I’m not ashamed to admit that it was a struggle to make the decision and I cried my eyes out because it was *ONE MORE* life-giving thing being taken away from me.)
This Sunday, I get to be the “cyber verger” and do all the cueing, embedding, and unmuting when we do worship over Zoom.
I’m rediscovering the beauty of Compline. Our bishop has requested that we not hold corporate worship through Easter (and we are complying because a.) we listen to the bishop, and b.) the shelter-in-place order from Governor Inslee prohibits it), so I asked my priest if I could do Compline on the church Facebook page as a way of creating community and praying together even though we’re physically scattered. He enthusiastically gave me his blessing, so I have been doing it on weeknights at 8:30 p.m. It is my favorite of the Daily Offices in the Book of Common Prayer, so it is been fun to get to do it. I accidentally recorded it on my Facebook wall on Tuesday night, which might not have been a bad thing because one of my college friends from Intervarsity joined me. 🙂
I am getting a lot of reading done. While I do read a lot, it tends to be online things. Being “bored” has meant that I spend a chunk of my day reading on my bed with Minion on the panther trap I have for him. (It’s a quilt that he tends to appropriate from me.) I just finished Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (finally!!!), and I plan to start another book tonight.
I’m having dinner with my parents more often. We don’t eat together as a family often because my parents and I are usually doing our own thing at night, and Daniel obviously is fed by pump. (We still encourage him to join us at the table for some milk or Cheerios.) We have managed to eat dinner together twice this week, which is nice. Dad was making hamburgers for him and my mom on Sunday, so I joined them with a “tuna burger” as my mom put it. (I am pesco-vegetarian for Lent and Dad has been keeping up a steady supply of tuna for me.) Last night, I made lasagna (because I wanted lasagna, darn it!) and they joined me for that. (I currently have 7 servings of lasagna frozen for me in the chest freezer in the garage so that I can vary my diet a bit.)
I’m blessed with an amazing resource in Daniel’s teacher. Daniel’s teacher is researching every possible classroom management program out there so that all of her kiddos have at least one that works well for them. We are going to be using one called ClassDojo for Daniel as well as Google Classroom because that is what the school district wants to use. I am really thankful that she is so dedicated to her students!
I am not having to hang out in waiting rooms and exam rooms with Daniel. Daniel’s specialists through Seattle Children’s and our pediatrician up here have been willing to do phone appointments so that we don’t have to go there. It isn’t that bad of a trek to Everett where Daniel would have had a G-I appointment last Friday, but it still meant that I did not have to be up at 6 to leave by 7 for Daniel’s x-ray and 8:00 appointment.
I am appreciating Max Lucado’s “Coronavirus Check-in” videos.Max Lucado is one of the few evangelicals that doesn’t make me want to stab things. His books are lovely, and he has been putting out videos almost every day on his YouTube channel and on Facebook where he is checking in, giving a short pep talk, praying for people, and inviting people to submit their prayer requests so that others can pray for them. It’s totally not something normally on my radar, but I came across this video on Facebook and have been sharing it all over the place:
People were ripping Max apart in the comments, but it is a beautiful video because it is so true. God can deal with our frustrations, and Max encourages us to have a meltdown if we need it… but to not stay there and to come back to a place of praise, using parts of the third chapter of Lamentations as an example.
I’m not actually under quarantine because of known exposure–I’m staying in (with the exception of getting coffee from the $tarbux drive-thru, recording worship on Sunday, and physical therapy appointments) at the request of my parents because of this happening last year. While my hysterical hysterectomy took care of some of the reason for the bleeding/clotting issue, I’m still asthmatic and we don’t know how well I can fight it off (or *IF* I can fight it off). So… I’m effectively quarantined for the long haul.
The sitch in Kirkland. Probably 80% of the COVID-19 deaths in Washington and 25% of the COVID-19 deaths nationally are associated with Life Care Center in Kirkland. This news story talks about how everything got started there and started the spread to other assisted living facilities in the Seattle area. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be shut down when all is said and done because the lawsuits alone from the survivors and the families of the deceased would put it out of business.
How I’m doing. In all seriousness, I’m having to force myself not to look at my state’s COVID-19 page or my county’s page until 4 p.m. every day because refreshing both of them to see if they’ve updated them yet is not good for my mental health. It was unnerving enough to see that my rural county is up to 18 cases and three hospitalizations. (No deaths yet thankfully.) Statewide, we’re up to almost 1,400 cases and 74 deaths, which is also sad. Most of the cases are in the Seattle/Tacoma/Everett corridor, but that’s still 1,400 too many cases and 74 too many deaths.