The good and the bad, part 1: Distance Learning

I’m processing my life right now by writing through it, and the thing that’s striking me is, once again, how close together the good and bad things in life are. So I figured I’d share some of those good-and-bad things. It’s turned into far too long a post… you know, every time you process one reality, it shifts… so I’ll do this in two parts and pray it doesn’t require a third!

My daffodils are actually coming out the advertised colors this year!
1. Distance learning: bad. When this started, all those online resources insisted you create a dedicated space for learning to get you in the right mindframe. It sounds totally reasonable, but I’m telling you–this is not reality. Reality is that if you have four kids, there is no dedicated learning space. You can’t turn your kitchen table into a school. One of them is watching a video, another one’s watching a different video, the third one is trying to concentrate on reading and won’t be able to, and the fourth went downstairs because he couldn’t take it, and comes upstairs yelling every five minutes about who’s hogging the wifi bandwidth. (Item: it turned out to be a problem with his computer, not the wifi.)
2. Distance learning, addendum: If you’re thinking of recommending earbuds: we don’t have them because I think they’re bad for our hearing, but also, when you have a kid with Down syndrome, a parental unit has to watch the video too. So there is no ideal here. There’s only dealing with reality as best we can. We work at the kitchen table (with paper flowers and candles and napkins and centerpiece candles in place); we work on the couch; we work in Mom and Dad’s bedroom; and whenever possible, we work on the deck.
3. Distance learning: good. My husband took two days off work to help us get started, which was a godsend. (For him as well. It’s wearing on a person to be “on” as long as he has, communicating the university through the onset of the coronavirus era.) Something amazing happened on Day Two. We were all sitting at the table at dinner laughing together. No fighting. The morning was stressful, but we found our rhythm and the structure served everyone well. We even planned out Xbox time!
4. Distance learning: bad. I am reeeeallly ready to be off this emotional roller coaster. The hits just keep coming, and I’m not even watching the news. I reel, I cry, I freak out, I pull myself out of it (usually with help i.e. a serious scolding from my husband), and I think, Got it. But every time I adjust to the new reality, the next day brings another whammy. On Days one and two of distance learning, I got my freak-out out of the way and wrapped my brain around it. I went to bed with hope that the first good day we’d had as a family could, in fact, become the norm… only to be told, midway through the morning of my first day doing it solo, that they decided it was too much work and we were taking a complete pause in learning for three days.
I feel like the entire world is going to need PTSD counseling when this is over.

5. Distance learning: good. The Catholic school did not cancel, and my second grader lost his mind midafternoon, which required me to snuggle with him and help him plan out his “choice” activities. One of those ended up being sidewalk chalk, which turned into a family event.

6. Distance learning: good. I have learned this week that although I can’t help with geometry, I do, in fact, still find fractions relatively simple work; ergo, I *can* do fifth grade math!
7. Distance learning: mixed. The Met is streaming operas. (Good!) But no one who has kids on any kind of schedule can watch an entire opera that begins at 7p.m. and lasts nearly three hours. (Bad.) However, we did get to see the first forty-five minutes of the Barber of Seville.
More thoughts to come.

Bonus: the Liturgical Composers’ Forum, of which I am a member, is launching an initiative to support the composers who have lost their jobs in this economic mess. They give so much to us by facilitating our sung worship; I hope those of us who still have income can give something back.

(Part two continues here…)

(Linking up with 7 Quick Takes at This Ain’t the Lyceum…)

3 thoughts on “The good and the bad, part 1: Distance Learning

  1. Mary Power

    I don’t know where to share this but I just spent the better part of 40 days following Living Out Lent Today, my church subscribes to this each year. Since churches are shuttered this was one of my links to Lent and Holy Week. Thank you.

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