School: Day 4

School: Day 4 

 

I’m feeling the need to try and figure out what I’m feeling about this school year. Every day this week I have rolled out of bed at 6am when my alarm goes off, jumped into the shower, took all my vitamins and supplements, sat and had my devotions. This morning I grabbed my phone, which I purposefully leave far away from my bed, so I have to get up, and then I climbed back into bed for another half hour. I’m starting to feel a little tired. My homeschooling-seventh grader is still asleep, and instead of dragging him out of bed at 7:30am to eat breakfast so we can get started by eight, I’m letting him sleep a bit longer. In the past three days I’ve figured out that we actually get our work done pretty quickly. There is no rush. 

 

I’m having mixed feelings about homeschooling. I think the primary problem is that I really don’t want to be homeschooling. I am doing it because all of our school options are wacky this year, and this is the best option for these three kids. 

 

There are things I’m enjoying. My second grader brought me a library book to read in the middle of the school day. Sure. I can read it to you. The book happened to be about a little girl in South Sudan. So, we read the book, then I thought, Hey, let’s go with this. So, I pulled out our kid’s “Circling the Globe” book, and we looked up Sudan, read about it. Googled some pictures on the internet. The story was about the need for wells and clean drinking water and so I told her some personal missionary stories that I know about providing wells and clean drinking water to people in need. 

Here’s a pic of the book. It’s actually an excellent read, I was getting teary eyed at the end. I just happened to grab it off the library shelf for a read aloud to take home. 

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My kindergartner was doing a rather simplistic Social Studies Lesson where he had to draw a picture of his house. I was able to go grab my “The Usborne Book of Houses and Homes” where they have pictures and descriptions of homes from all over the world. The second grader joined us and we picked out which ones were our favorites which included marsh homes in Southern Iraq and carved rock homes in Turkey. 

 

I love the fact that I can have my kids do a lesson and then send them outside to jump on the trampoline for ten minutes. The fact that we migrate around. Let’s sit on the couch for this lesson. Let’s sit at the dining room table. Let’s sit on my easy chair. I’m enjoying teaching the kids music, here, let’s clap out this rhythm! 

 

I also am enjoying the fact that I can help my second grader get caught up in areas she’s weak in. And my kindergartner has been able to just move into first grade level books, because he already knows all the kindergarten stuff. These are all good things.

 

But I’m a little worried. Worried about my mental state. Worried about whether I can maintain a positive attitude. Worried about my seventh grader getting behind in band, wondering how I can get him access to a baritone horn so he can practice at home. I’m worried about my second grader who has made it very clear to me that she is home against her wishes. She wants to be at school. And we have a daily conversation about the reasons I have kept her home this semester. I worry about how I’m going to keep these guys occupied in all our spare time. 

 

I worry about my public school kids too. Our elementary school had a hard lock down  yesterday because of something happening in the vicinity of the school. My fourth grader told me she had to hide in a closet and she was scared. And that’s just not right. These kids do NOT need this added stress in their lives. But at the same time, they are SO happy to be back at school. I won’t even go into my highschooler doing virtual school. That should have it’s very own blog. 

 

So, here I am. Happy. Worried. Determined. Worried. Frazzled. Worried. Confident. Worried. Insecure. Worried. And basically just wishing that all the uncertainty of this year was over with. 

 

The past two days I have had two different people post a bible verse that resonated with me. 

 

Habakkuk 3: 17-18

 

Though the fig tree does not bud

    and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

    and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen

    and no cattle in the stalls, 

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

 

This school year is not what I wanted for us. I am struggling with worry. So, I will rejoice in the Lord. He never changes. He has gone before me. He has hedged me in, behind and before. I will trust in his goodness and take it one day at a time. 

 

It’s OK to be Sad

Do any of you struggle with feeling Big Feelings? I always feel like I need to apologize for being depressed or angry or sad. Like, these emotions are on the bad list and I need to switch over to Happy and Content and Peaceful as soon as possible. 

 

This week has been a bit rough for our family. My kids have been dragging around and have been downright depressed. Do you want to go to the creek to play? No. Do you want to go to the one open playground that I know about? No. Do you want to go bike riding? No. And then they ask, when is school starting? When can we see our friends again?

 

We have talked about school, how it’s going to look different for the kids who are going to the actual school building. Social distancing! Masks! Don’t share things! The little kids who I’m keeping home to homeschool, want to know, again, why they can’t go to the building? And I’m tempted to just go and enroll them and hope for the best. Except that all the reasons I have for homeschooling still exist. I’m sorry sweetie. If school has to shut down for sickness, I don’t want you having to do computer school when you’re only in 2nd grade. But, if everything goes smoothly this semester, I’ll put you in school in January. We just have to wait and see.  

 

And I realize, my kids are mourning. They are mourning their lives being turned upside down. School being different. “I hate the coronavirus!” has become a common refrain. A couple of my kids seem to have just closed in on themselves. Kids who always needed a bit of a push to engage, and now I have nowhere to push them. 

 

And I’m wracking my brain, trying to figure out how to help them, and realizing I’m in the same boat. I’m feeling isolated and scared to make any plans because things might change at any moment. I will have three kids in the school building which means, there is the possibility, every single day, that I will get a phone call saying that one of my kids has been exposed to a positive case of Covid-19 and now we all have to quarantine. Not fun.

 

I think about needing community, and things to look forward to. I contemplate planning musical evenings, and poetry nights, and having people over. And I really want to, but I’m fighting the unease. What if I have a bunch of people over, and then a day later, I find out that one of my kids has been exposed and we have to quarantine, and now I have to call a bunch of people and tell them, hey, you might have been exposed. While I am not overly concerned about getting sick (as my husband says, it’s a virus, you can’t stop a virus, we are all going to get it eventually) I still feel bad about causing alarm to anyone else. And so, I drag my feet about planning gatherings. 

 

And I realize that I am also mourning. I am mourning that I can’t send my kindergartner to school. He’s been looking forward to it for a long time. I have too. Yeah, he’ll do fine homeschooling, but I wanted him to have all those Firsts. First day of school. First time meeting your teacher and class. First time getting to go school with the big kids. I am mourning the fact that everything is uncertain. Yes, we will establish this schedule, but everything might change. You never know. I am mourning the fact that inviting people to my home now feels risky. Yes, we’ll have a cookout this weekend, Lord willing, and we don’t have to quarantine! I am mourning the fact that my daughter won’t be doing ROTC this year. My quirky son won’t be able to try out for the school play. My other son won’t be doing soccer club in the after school program. My second grader won’t get to see if her best friend is in her class again this year. 

 

We are all mourning. And I keep feeling like I need to apologize for not feeling perky and happy. 

 

So, No Apologies! This year has been hard! It’s ok to not have it all together. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to mourn. 

 

My mourning is not hopeless. My trust is in the Lord. I know that he will bring good things out of the bad and he will carry us through this time. But, in the meantime, it’s ok to be sad. 

This is What We are Going to Do

Well, our school district rolled out their plan yesterday for how we are going to proceed in the Fall. I will try to simplify it here.

If you aren’t comfortable sending your kids to school you have one week to sign up for online school. They will expect you to commit to that choice for an entire semester. The other option is to send your child to school (starting one week later than normal). Everyone will have daily temperature checks before entering the building and face masks will be required for staff and students. Lots of cleaning will occur. It sounds like each school is going to make their own call on how they do eating and group classes. There is no set in stone plan for dealing with a positive case of Covid 19 in the building. They will take each case as it comes and decide what is appropriate. It does say that a teacher who is required to quarantine will have to take that time from their own personal emergency sick days,  and if they run out of those they will have to take unpaid time off. Doesn’t sound very fair. Also, every student is going to get a computer (and there are instructions on how to get wi-fi if you don’t have it) so that, if students get sent home for quarantining or any other reason, they will be able to continue doing school online. 

 

I’m now going to tell you what we are doing and why. 

 

My two high-schoolers are going to school as normal. They’re old enough to be able to handle wearing masks and if school ends up getting shut down for sickness, and they have to switch to online learning, I still want them to be doing that through their high school, not through me. 

 

My seventh grader has asked to stay home and be homeschooled. He does not want to wear a mask all day, and he doesn’t want to be sitting in front of a computer all day. I said yes, we can homeschool because, first, he’s a laid back kid, easy to teach, and second, he’s a very good student and I am confident that I can keep him on track easily. I plan to teach him the same science subjects and history subjects that they are doing at public school so that he can easily return to public school either in January or for the next school year. 

 

I did not give my 5th grader the option to homeschool. We have already established that we don’t work well together. He also said that he’s not interested in sitting in front of a computer all day and would prefer to be in a classroom. And he has no problem wearing a mask all day. Also, he is a very healthy, active child. 

 

My fourth grader has also asked to go to school. Same reasons. She doesn’t mind the mask and she wants to be in a classroom. She is also a very healthy, active girl. 

 

I did not give my 2nd grader a choice. She is going to stay home and homeschool. She has asthma, her immune system is a lot weaker than my other kids, and she goes into a complete panic any time she has to wear a mask. While online school would be an option, I feel like a 2nd grader should be doing hands-on work, not staring at a screen all day. She is also a good student that works well with me, so I’m not worried about homeschooling her. 

 

I also did not give the kindergartner a choice, he is staying home and being homeschooled. While he could probably handle wearing a mask all day, I worry about the times that he will get sent home and have to do his work on a computer. I do not feel like computer school is appropriate for kindergarten. Again, I want him working with manipulatives, and working on his handwriting and coloring pictures and running around a lot. There is also the fact that I was already a little concerned about how he was going to do in kindergarten. He’s a dreamy kid who gets lost in his own thoughts often, not an ideal characteristic in a classroom. He’s also a smart little kid. We have already done a kindergarten curriculum at home this year because he whizzed through all my preschool stuff. He’s ready to start 1st grade level curriculum and I was afraid that he might get bored in Kindergarten. So, I’m keeping him home. Let me add that he is also a laid back kid who is easy to school. 

 

I’m giving you all this information because I worry about moms feeling pressured both ways. Pressured to homeschool when they don’t want to. Pressured to send kids to school when they don’t want to. Pressured to make a blanket decision for the whole family, when actually, each child needs something different. Be encouraged. This year, there is no right answer for how to school your kids. 

 

I would also encourage you to pray about it. Last night, my brain was whirling and I didn’t think I was going to get any sleep. I finally prayed, God, you love these kids, you know what’s best for them, you also want me to make the right choices for these kids. So I’m going to trust that you will give me a plan. 

 

I woke up this morning and this was the plan that was in my head, to make an individual decision for each child depending on that child’s needs. So, happy decision making to all of you! And let’s have lots of grace for each other, as each person decides what is best for their family!

 

Happy Birthday America

My relationship and feelings toward the United States of America has always been complicated. I grew up in Haiti among people of many different nationalities and America had the reputation of being the bully of the world. They also had the stereotype of being uncultured, crass, oblivious. As a child, I was not overly impressed with my American citizenship. 

 

Before I was born, my American Father and my British Mother had given birth to my brother in Haiti. The United States, Great Britain, and Haiti all refused to give my brother citizenship because my parents had spent very little time in their home countries. My parents made the decision that the entire family needed to have citizenship from the same country so they moved to the States and began the process of getting citizenship for my brother and my mother. I was born during that time in Kentucky. 

 

I remember as a child, asking my parents why they didn’t go to Great Britain and get everyone citizenship there? That would have been way more cool than being American. I can’t remember their exact answer. I think it had to do with the fact that they were working as missionaries in Haiti and the United States was closer and easier to travel to than Great Britain. I think there were more reasons than that, that’s just the one I remember. Maybe something to do with the fact that an American passport is easier to travel with? 

 

I was living in Haiti when the United States decided to put an embargo on this tiny little island country. I watched as food, fuel and medicine became very difficult to find. And I was ashamed. Ashamed of my citizenship. Angry at the US and the harm it was causing to this tiny country where I lived. That anger lingered a long time. Maybe some of it is still there. 

 

As an adult I think I’ve had a good reality check. I spent some time living in Chile, gave birth to my second child there. Loved Chile, but it wasn’t home. I’ve read articles and followed devastating stories of the lack of medical freedom in other Western countries. I’ve talked with friends from Russia, learned a little bit about growing up in the Soviet Union. Essentially, just learned a little bit more about the world than I knew as a child. 

 

My husband and I are wanderers at heart. It’s hard for us to be settled down in one place. It feels bizarre that we have actually lived in the same city for sixteen years now. It’s a common conversation for us to talk about where we would like to move. Especially when things get crazy here in the U.S. Let’s just leave, my husband says. And I take him seriously. Ok, where should we go? We start listing off countries. And as we say a name, I point out the problems that I am aware of for that country. And by the end of the conversation, we always reach the grim reality that there really isn’t any “better” place that we could go and still be able to raise our large family in the manner that we see fit with the minimum amount of dangers to our children. 

 

And now, I realize that I have a multi-national audience. I will just point out that while our country probably has just as many pitfalls as any other country, we are familiar with these pitfalls, we are citizens here, not foreigners, and we know all the ins and outs that we wouldn’t know in another country. No offense meant towards other countries. 

 

And so, here we are on the 4th of July. Firmly established as American Citizens. Not going anywhere. And it’s my country’s birthday. 

 

I got on Facebook this morning and was bombarded by heavy discussions about mask wearing. Pros, Cons. A lot of strong feelings. Our county’s health department has mandated mask wearing. Our Mayor has spoken out against it. Our Sheriff has spoken out against it. This has caused a very big stir in our county. The division is irritating to me. But, now I will tell you what I like about my country. We have the freedom to speak out and tell the world at large what we think. I think your law is stupid, and I’m not going to follow it. I think your “mandate” is unconstitutional and these are the reasons why…I think all of you all should stop fussing about masks and just wear them! I think we need to fight this! I think everyone should be more worried about this virus! I think the virus is a scam! I think we are all going to end up dying in the hospital if people don’t take action soon! 

 

We have the freedom to voice what we think without fear of retribution. 

 

We have freedom to speak up about anything and everything. Hey! Black Lives Matter! Hey! Blue Lives Matter! Hey! Medical Freedom is important! Hey! I hate that decision that our President made! Hey! I think your State is stupid for opening up their economy in the middle of a pandemic! Hey! I think your state is stupid for shutting everything down and ruining their economy! 

 

Though all of our viewpoints have become very polarized, we still have the freedom to voice them. 

 

I worry about this freedom being taken from us. I can see a political trend where this right is slowly being gutted. I pray that those who want to silence all these voices will not be successful. 

 

From my standpoint,  this is the strength of our country. The freedom to think what we want, hold whatever views we wish, and the freedom to voice those opinions. 

 

I do not hold with the view that the United States is the most amazing country in the world. I don’t hold with the view that Being Christian and Being American are one and the same thing. I do not hold with the myth that America has been a paradise, a bastion of freedom, for all peoples since day one. 

 

I will tell you what I am proud of though. My husband was able to quit his job and start his own business with very little hassle. I can send my children to a free public school, or I can keep them home and homeschool them. I can go to the church of my choice and worship in the way I choose without fear. My city is clean. The trash is picked up weekly. I have reliable clean running water and electricity. My city is full of parks and playgrounds that I can enjoy without charge. I am an hour away from a beautiful National Park that is also clean and well-kept and free of charge. If I have any complaints, I have places where I can seek justice. 

I still have mixed feelings about my birth country. These past months have been a time when minorities have been voicing their reality that this country is not as Free for them as it is for others. Here’s the thing. While our country may not be the Home of the Free…yet…we have the potential. We have the framework to make it happen. We still have the freedom to pursue change and reform.  Our country is not static. All the things we don’t like, we can change. And that is probably about as free as we can get. 

 

Happy Birthday America.