Still Leaning on Society
Childhood enrichment has been a wash during the quarantine. Quarantine week one, about day three, I was relatively calm. Both kids were going to sit at the table. The older one was going to have the tablet with her age-appropriate material, and the younger, who has never been to school, was going to learn to write his name. I couldn't fail. I had sketched and cut out big tracing letters for him. She had her headphones on. There was tea brewing.
And then I quickly remembered: I never wanted to be an elementary school teacher.
While I have been an adjunct professor, and while my kids find the idea that I go to class highly amusing (although they can't wrap their minds around Mama being the teacher), it's not amusing to have a 4-year-old repeatedly tell me it's too hard to hold a pencil and he wants a snack. I was not trained for this.
I did have a student in a freshman composition class raise his hand to ask if he could use the restroom. I told him: "You never need to ask that again. Welcome to being an adult. Congratulations. Just go."
But that day, no matter how singsong my voice was, or how much I impressed upon him that he's a Big Boy now, or how much I had cemented my mantra into various iterations of "I am the light. I have the power. I can do this," the reality remained: We could not do this.
Around quarantine day 20-something -- as I pulled a "Downton Abbey" by asking more and more, "What even is a weekend?" -- our elementary school let us know that there would be morning online classes. Oh, my lands, I was onboard. Let's get the webcam situated just for her pint-sized stature at my desk. Let's make sure she understands the mute button. Let's go pick up that packet of worksheets they were preparing for us, stat.
Now my daughter shares my home office for the first "work" hour of the day, with a Zoom call to her class, a bit of homework or online training tacked on. I'm kicked out to sit on the backyard swing with my laptop and one ear open in case the teacher says, "And if your parents are there ..." so I can walk back in and get my parent homework.
After class, we move her papers and pencils to the shelf now designated as her spot, and she runs off to forget that she's in elementary school and just becomes a kid at home with her family.
But I keep seeing the supplies in my office out of the corner of my eye.
We went to pick up the worksheets at her school. While we waited in the pick-up lane, they gave her a few supplies in a brown paper gift bag through the car window. She was exceedingly thrilled to say a wild hi to her principal, who was standing in the sun waiting to greet every kiddo in the back seat of their car. In the bag was a packet of loose lined papers, a bound notebook, two sharpened pencils, a sharpener, a pack of markers, a pack of colored pencils, a glue stick, an eraser and a pair of scissors.
I keep seeing these simple supplies, and it keeps making me happy. It shows her school tried to make sure that every kiddo has the same set of supplies at home. Those supplies come as an offering of opportunity to succeed, even now. Seeing the new stack of worksheets rising on my shelf, I also realize that I am still drawing strength from my community to get through this, even if I didn't have the training to be an elementary teacher, and even if it's from a distance.
Cassie McClure is a writer, wife/mama/daughter, fan of the Oxford comma and drinker of tequila. Some of those things relate. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate Inc.