Here & there: The millionth day of COVID-19 as a parent

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FEATURE — This week marked the one-millionth day of remote learning for my kids. I know, I know, you’re thinking how does that math work when we’ve only been in a pandemic with (some) schools shutdown since March of 2020? 

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Well, that’s easy. You have to count remote learning in dog years. 

No, in elephant years. Elephant years because however elephant years get counted, it must be bigger than dogs. Because, well, they’re elephants. 

Don’t question my logic here. Just nod your head and continue reading. 

The good news is that on the millionth day of remote learning, we finally welcomed a milestone: the end of quarter two.

I’ve never been so happy to see the end of something in my entire life. And that’s saying a lot because I birthed three nearly nine-pound babies without epidurals or any other form of pain reliever. And they weren’t short labors either. 

Prior to the end of quarter, two-thirds of my boys were behind in multiple classes. In spite of logging into every single Zoom class, going into school for optional small group learning sessions and in spite of working several hours a day on assignments on their clunky school-issued laptops. 

In our district, which is still remote only, my boys aren’t alone. Last I read, 34% of the district is failing. Failing. 

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That is a discussion for a whole different day. But I will say that it is absolutely unacceptable; heads on our school board should roll.

When, during one of my regular check-ins two weeks ago, I discovered my boys’ newly behind status, I sat down with each to map out a plan of attack. 

My end of the conversation went something like this, “So, I’ve checked your grades and whoa, a couple of them are looking pretty scary. I’ve also checked why they are so scary – 18 missing assignments will do that to you. What do you think you should do about that?”

My middle, who had D’s in both Math and Language Arts, nodded his head and looked contemplative as I spoke. 

Then he responded, with a straight face, “You know, mom. I’ve been thinking. People say you shouldn’t live in the past so I think I should just let those old assignments go and start fresh in the new term.” 

Nice try, kid. 

I informed him that instead of THAT plan, he’d be doing each and every one of the missing assignments, even if he didn’t get credit. Because I love him too much to let him give up. 

In fact, I love him so much I want him to do hard things. And make no mistake, this current school business is a hard thing. It is a million days hard.

I was comforted then when later that week I read what Glennon Doyle, author and thought leader, had to say about making kids do hard things. In her book “Untamed,” she says our generation of parents got the wrong memo. 

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We were told never to allow anything difficult to happen to our children. They must get participation trophies in every sport they play, get good grades even if they don’t really earn them and be constantly entertained. 

That’s why, she says, our kids suck. 

“Because people who do not suck are people who have failed, dusted themselves off and tried again. People who do not suck are those who have learned from their own mistakes by dealing with the consequences.”

Instead, she advises parents should let everything happen to their kids – and then, be near. 

I was near as my boys did every single one of their missing assignments over the next two weeks. I was near when one of them cried in his room at 2:00 a.m., and fell into a heap on the carpet. I was near when the other screamed in frustration during his fifth-straight assignment on Newsela and threatened to torch his Chromebook. 

And I was near when they finished their terms whole. 

No wonder it felt like a million days. But then again, there are a million more to go. Remote learning or not. So I’ll stay near, and we’ll all keep doing the hard things. 

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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