The Social Distancing Coronavirus Rant
By Anna Robb
I edited Melissa Bondar’s article last week “Social Distancing Check In” and I thought, my, how she sounds serene amidst the coronavirus chaos. I was jealous….. a little bit…. Melissa’s days sound productive and peaceful and planned and filled with cups of teas, Netflix sessions and free online courses. My coronavirus experience is the opposite. I am a mother, who has been solo homeschooling two children for 4 months and counting….so here’s my coronavirus rant.
Facts: My kids haven’t been to their official school since January. I haven’t seen my husband in person since February 5. Which means my kids haven’t seen their dad since that day either. Each morning I pull clothes out of a suitcase next to my bed to wear. My last gig was sometime in January. My kids and I are bunkered down social distancing at my father’s house in country Victoria, Australia. My home is Hong Kong. I am a terrible homeschool teacher.
While others are bingeing on Netflix and social media is ablaze with talk of Tiger King, in the last 4 months I have watched one movie and eight episodes of Money Heist, Season 4. That’s all. Mothers and fathers around the world who have primary aged kids are in a battle that childless humans out there would find difficult to comprehend.
Sleep ins!! HA! My son is in my bed from anywhere from 4am to 6am. As he is not allowed up till 6:30am, he often likes to tell me the time every five to ten minutes while he waits for the clock to hit 6:30.
“It’s 6:10, twenty minutes to go…., It’s 6:25, five minutes to go….” Thanks son, just thanks.
I bounce from the bed at 6:30. I permit my offspring to take their IPads to watch cartoons on Netflix for the 90 minutes that I am going to do my yoga. Normally my husband and I would never allow IPads on a school day in the morning but well, I am in survival mode and I won’t apologize.
While doing my yoga, I listen to the latest YouTube video madness on the USA’s response to the coronavirus and their politics. I hear my yogi friends screaming “What? You listen to politics while doing yoga…!!!” Yes, yes I do. Again not something I normally would do, but there’s a lot of information to understand about the current world pandemic, so this is the time I devote to such a task. When this is done, I roll up my mat, remove the IPads from the kids and get their breakfast. While they are eating, I shower and prepare their schoolwork.
Around 8:30 the kids hit a wonderful enclosed back porch space, filled with natural light where the autumn sunshine warms the room and there’s comfortable seating and large bench spaces to work. It’s perfect for those cups of teas and online courses that Mel was talking about, except…. I’m about to go into a wrestling match with my kids to get them to do their homework. I bring my laptop out but it is foolish to think that I am going to get work done.
The following four hours are typically filled with sentences like this:
“Mum, what goods flowed into China along the Silk Road?”
“I don’t know, have you read the information sheet about the Silk Road that I printed out.”
“Well I’m sure that sheet has the answer.”
“It’s two and a half. Do you know how to write two and a half?” (after 2 weeks of fraction homework)
“Where’s the sharpener? I need some glue. Where’s my pencil?”
“There’s a new wolf that’s a wererabbit!”
“I have no idea what you are talking about. Please focus on your homework.”
“Mom, I don’t get it.”
“Mom, can you help?”
“Mom, no one is helping me.”
“Mom, Tyler’s annoying me.”
“I am not. She started it…”
Zoom Mandarin classes. Online maths games (sure take my laptop). Book reading.
You get the picture.
After this nightmare is over, the kids retreat to their downtime and I attempt to work, as hard and fast as I can till 4pm. This has been broken up with facilitating activities for the kids, circuit courses in the backyard, pitching tents, getting DVDs going, budgeting for the months ahead, considering travel options of getting home, and dealing with life administration….
How anyone expects families to home school their kids and work their full time job in the house is beyond me.
And I am my own boss. The only KPIs I have, are the ones I set for myself. How is any other parent with a full time job coping?
4pm is outside time. Exercise time. My long time friend often comes around and we walk 8kms. Or I take the kids out to walk around, which they don’t like because there’s no parks to go to.
Today is a good day. Today we borrowed a bike.
This will be exciting for a week or so….
Overall, we are coping. But I’m not being a great home school teacher. I’m not being a great business owner. I’m not being an ever patient, kind mother. I’m not being a great wife. I’m not up skilling and taking advantage of the free courses. I’m not earning money.
What I am doing is treading water. And when you can’t tick a box or feel like you are succeeding at anything in a day, over time, that can start to get to you.
But the one solace I have, is that I’m doing my part. That I know. For the frontline workers, for those with COVID-19, for those who are doing the research to combat the virus and figure out how to get the world back on track.
My job is to endure this state of play. I can do that.
I don’t need to be out there making shows happen right now. My job is to take the back seat.
And when the world comes back online, I’ll be more than ready to help pick up the pieces.