I did an interview with The Newsletter this week on the topic of home-schooling- here is the unedited sweary version for SWB readers…
Anyone know the Crowded House ‘Four Seasons in One Day?’ Well, that’s my life at the moment, except replace four with eight, or maybe ten. I ricochet back and forth between feelings of exhaustion and ennui, gratitude and griping, busyness and boredom.
The most stressful element of my day is definitely the home-schooling. I quickly get frustrated when I see that my children’s academic progress has gone into a swift decline since lockdown began. When I look at what they are producing presently I turn into a raging harpy. ‘Have you ever HEARD of a full stop?’ ‘Yes, fifty-five take away fourteen is indeed forty-one but since that a PLUS sign so the answer is sixty nine.’ FFS. There is much sniping and sighing when I have the audacity to point out these mistakes. When I asked for my nine year old to give me a couple of adjectives last week, the little s**t replied: ‘Mean and nasty’. How very encouraging.
I dug out some of school-books from previous years, and there was the evidence that my home-schooling techniques are rubbish. A quick flick through and I saw positive comments and gold stars- ‘Go you! Amazing! Wow!’ What is abundantly clear is that that they lack both the inclination and the ability to concentrate at their work at home.
Last lockdown LSB used to blithely say ‘Send them up to me!’ when he heard raised voices below. Since then, he has installed two large monitors on the desk where they used to sit. ‘Not much room for them here,’ he says. Since January he has a significantly larger number of meetings for which is attendance is, apparently, mandatory. Obviously, I am not remotely suspicious about any of this. Useless f**ker.
I did not choose to join a religious order because I didn’t fancy a life of servitude, but this appears to have happened anyway. I am now bringer of breakfasts, server of snacks and deliverer of the Key Stage Two Curriculum. Sometimes I try to do put the laundry on while they ‘work’ but have discovered that this is a complete waste of time.
Does anyone else feel as though their brain is being hacked in half with a blunt machete? The See-Saw app is fiddly AF, so if I’m not at their shoulder to oversee what they’re doing they merrily press ‘send’ and send their teacher a load of rubbish. Some of the work coming home is new, and while teachers patiently and with enormous effort, post explanatory videos, I still need to sit with them as they do most of the activities.
Afternoons are spent with my trying to avoid a visit to A&E as they treat our living room furniture like a jungle gym, vaulting over tables and hanging off the banisters. Last Lockdown LSB had to screw the leg back into the sofa and so far this time we have bid farewell to a kitchen chair. Sometimes I feel like a life in a convent would be preferable; at least it would be quiet.
And yet, when I am not strung out multi-tasking, I often feel a sense of relief. Latterly when I was teaching in a local grammar school, I was aware of the pressure which staff and pupils alike where struggling under. It was an absolute f**king melt. This was the result of not knowing whether exams were taking or place or not and the fact students were doing their nut about what they had missed. Tensions ran exceptionally high. Peter Weir is as qualified in the role as Educational Minister as Trump was in the role as President. Not a notion does he have, and running his own party’s agenda to boot.
So are there any upsides? Well yes, of course. When it snowed this time two weeks ago it seemed like a gift- we took the girls to the local meadow with their sleds and played for hours. I didn’t have to navigate icy roads and sit at home wondering whether the school would be open or not.
. There is always a sense of celebration when the weekend arrives. Late afternoon I escape, lighting a candle and doing some yoga. Even if it’s just a fifteen-minute practice I feel like it’s something ‘just for me.’ Also, just for me, is the can of wine which I crack open every evening at seven. These are tough times, and if you can’t savour how the flavours of elderberry and green apple marry together in a sparkling white now, then when can you?
I realize, that although life is strange and frightening, that I am lucky. Annoying as they can be, I have a family and a menagerie of pets to keep me busy and (sometimes) amused. Being on my own would be infinitely worse, so when I feel myself close to losing my temper I try to remember this. I try. People I try. But let’s face it, I often fail miserably, please tell me you do too. Solidarity is key for my sanity.