In this crazy world, you plan for emergencies and understand that the unexpected will always find its way upon you. I never expected to be facing this wild shift in my life. I always had a particular vision for my life. It's funny how different things can come out and somehow fulfill the vision without following one bit of the plan. Spending as much time as possible with my family was always one of those "lofty goals" that seemed just out of reach, yet it drove a majority of my logic when making many of my life decisions. My wife and I will have been married for eight years this June, and we have three beautiful little girls together. Money has always been tight, and we've often been forced to make decisions that drive us nuts just to make bills, but we have a saying in our house: "We can do this, what's next?" And through this little motto we've been able to vault ourselves through life when many times it looked like it was all over. And then COVID-19 became a commonplace conversation piece. The entire world around us was forced indoors.
Right now, we're all crammed in a small two-bedroom apartment. The girls are here for the rest of the school year, and there's a good chance they'll be repeating this same structure again next year. For once in my life, the family unit is forced to be together for everything. Leaving the house is unwise during the pandemic. Nothing is open anyway, except a few bigger stores and carryout restaurants. Trips to the park have stopped altogether, the caution tape wrapped around the play structures are a somber reminder of how much of our old life I took for granted. I can only imagine what it would have been like in a 1950's bomb shelter for months waiting for the background radiation to dissipate.
My wife has been amazing at keeping the girls on track with their schoolwork. Keep in mind, she works a full-time job. She also prefers to do all the shopping. Did I mention she basically works herself to death just to make sure our family is taken care of? Dedicated is an understatement. Our two oldest girls are in second grade and kindergarten, and their schoolwork has all transitioned to online Zoom meetings and website curriculum. We have to print out some worksheets, but most of their work is all electronic.
Most days my wife works during the day, and a majority of the schoolwork is handled by me. I'm on leave from work to help with the girls. Babysitters are nonexistent and we only have one car, so in an uncommon fashion we decided I would be the one to stay home. This of course, has been problematic. Remember when I mentioned that I have a champion for a wife? I 100% rely upon her emails and calendar reminders to get things done. Obviously, this becomes an impossibility to keep up for five members of the household. Time to step up Dad!
We sat down and talked about what things worked best for us and what we were trying to accomplish. If you've ever had the pleasure of stepping into most elementary schools in America before the pandemic, you would see countless things posted all over the walls: pictures, fascinating facts...the alphabet. Interestingly enough, these teachers had the foresight to put up announcements, schedules and procedures as well! What a novel thought, we both gasped. Instantly the printer became a whir of papers and the old "brag boards" of assignments of old were replaced with calendars, logins and passwords. In about an hour we had converted the small shrine, previously dedicated to what our kids had accomplished, into a very concise picture of what they were going to accomplish. I guess you could say that we experienced a pretty powerful paradigm shift.
The last two weeks of homeschooling was basically Mom and Dad patting each other on the back for figuring out how to log into the class portal. Our major successes were getting the kids to a virtual meeting on time, and hopefully having everything finished before it was due. Today, the girls knew exactly what they were doing, why they were doing it, what they needed to do, and how much they needed to finish.
Today was a win.