Whenever a truck goes by, or the garage door opens, I question if the slight rattle was an earthquake. When the earth beneath my feet actually does shake, I question if a truck just went by. When the shake goes on a little longer and a little stronger I know it's real. At that moment I brace myself and in a flash, I pray it doesn't last long and try to think of what I can do to make sure my children are okay. For the following hours and days, I think every sound is another earthquake. I am on edge preparing for the next one and also bracing myself for the likely aftershocks to follow.
At the moment, I feel like our everyday life is just waiting for that next quake. Our whole world has been rattled and I am feeling shaken. Between the pandemic and politics, my head is spinning. It has been almost six months since our lives changed so drastically. Last week my kids started a new school year like no other. We are all in our house living our lives virtually. So far home school this year is going so much better than it did last year. With the summer months to plan, schools have really done quite a turn around to make teaching online feel more like a real classroom.. My daughter has more of a handle on her schedule of classes in seventh grade, she knows what she needs to do each day and doesn't seek our help.
This situation isn't ideal though. It takes a great effort to get both of them outside for fresh air during the school day. They both get zoned out after being on a screen all day that it becomes difficult to motivate them out of the house. My son has a lot of kids his age nearby that I can get him together with to play outside safely with a mask, but making plans for my daughter is more challenging. At twelve she is really in between me still making plans for her and her being able to make them for herself. Middle school was already hard socially. She grew apart from some friends and some friends moved away from her. It seemed that just as they all settled into a comfortable groove the school closed its doors. Now if it were up to her she would only see the same friend over and over, putting all of her social needs on one friend. On a regular school day in normal times, she would be interacting with so many more kids throughout the day. I haven't figured out how to help her to branch out when she doesn't actually interact in person with peers.
For my son as a new third-grader, he isn't yet comfortable with all the technology. He is overwhelmed at the next level of academics and he is not at ease enough to speak up in "class." His confidence is at risk and almost daily he steps away from the computer to cry to me. He gets frustrated and shuts down. I try to help him but he doesn't seem to take in any support from me. At times he has said he doesn't know any of this and feels stupid. This is not the case at all, but if he misses the instructions and the class seems to be successfully doing the assignment he falls apart. If this were in a real classroom he would see what his friends were doing and figure it out. This is where this system is not working. It is as good as it can be right now, but it is a poor substitute for being in a room with peers.
My heart breaks for kids everywhere whose childhoods were interrupted so abruptly. We don't know the long term effects of such an increase in screentime and such a decrease in human interaction, but it can't be good. My son has one close friend who has stayed inside or in his backyard since March. When we saw him at school to pick up supplies and my son was so excited to see him. He yelled his name and said hello and his friend clung his mom's hand, barely waved, and darted his eyes away. This child last year played with my boy every day at school and now it is as if he unlearned how to be with other kids. We need to be safe and stay healthy but part of good health is keeping our kids social. Just like my son gets overwhelmed with new math lessons, I get overwhelmed with this dilemma too.
The weeks already seem to be picking up speed and passing us by. I take each day at a time and try not to let my head wander too far ahead. I enjoy being active and getting outside. I do what I can to keep my family healthy physically and emotionally. I try new ways to boost their spirits and keep them seeing friends. The four of us have most meals together each day and that is a gift. We are finding our new normal even if it feels anything but. We get out of town and get a change of scenery when we can and virtual school allows us that freedom. We are healthy, we are safe and considering the circumstances, we are doing well.