And So It Begins
March 13, 2020
Ezra and Ike both attend a small after school art program on Thursdays. They adore it. Ezra's the only fifth grader (and thus the oldest), and his art is routinely heaped with praise from the teacher and gets rapt, awed wonder from a pack of kindergartner fangirls. He goes for more realism with a ton of hidden details, while Ike has more of a pop art aesthetic with lots of plays on color and proportion. Obviously, they are both artistic geniuses, but I am really running out of places to hang their masterpieces, week after goddamn week.
Last Thursday, the teacher asked everyone to draw a tableau of "things you need if you have the flu."
Um. Okayyyy. Timely, I guess? What's next, a portrait of their favorite fallen Democratic primary candidate? A mixed-media collage of sensible 401(k) investments to withstand a bear market?
Clockwise from top left, Ezra will require: Orange juice, "Flu Medicine," what appears to be toilet paper in a tissue box, a get well card from his family, drawing/writing supplies, his glasses, a journal, cough drops, and his ADHD medicine.
Ike envisions more of a looming hellscape where his room gets taken over by two-story sized bottles of "that gross blue medicine" and mugs of ghostfaced hot chocolate. Also more toilet paper in a tissue box, a comic book he's been working on for a year now called Noah Ezra Ike, and finally his brothers standing watch while he quietly moans for more hot chocolate from bed.
On the way home, they sat together in the back seat and complimented each other's artwork. And then, a small, timid voice asked:
"Mom, what's the coronavirus?"
Fast-forward to yesterday -- after a looooong week of alternating between comforting, non-alarmist discussions about WASHING YOUR DAMN HANDS with the kids, and quietly stocking the pantry and struggling to obtain kids' cough medicine and digital ear thermometer covers from some sketchy third-party Amazon seller out of Brooklyn -- I arrived at their school once again to pick them up from the art class.
As I walked in, a stream of stunned-looking parents were walking out, while their VERY EXCITED children were all shrieking things about NO SCHOOL and TWO WEEKS and CAN YOU BELIEVE IT.
I'd literally checked the school district's website an hour before. There was a note about out-of-state field trips and a middle school debate being canceled, and a bunch of events that were currently being "reassessed."
My own children gave me similarly fuzzy information. Schools were closed for one week. No, maybe two? Or actually no, the art program was the thing being canceled.
This morning I sent everyone to school with a garbage bag so they could clean out their desks and lockers before everything gets scrubbed and locked down.
(Noah is ECSTATIC. This is the best Friday the 13th of his LIFE. We are working very hard on what is and is not APPROPRIATE to CELEBRATE and JOKE ABOUT right now. Also, you WILL read books and there WILL be math because this is NOT your ticket to like, 300 straight hours of screen time and video games.)
Right now we're looking at two weeks off, then canceling spring break in April to absorb some of the lost time. But with other states closing schools for three, four, even six weeks (omg im so sorry where can i send u wine), I'm not counting on anything just yet. I'm still waiting to see if even a fraction of the groceries I ordered yesterday actually show up in our delivery later today.
(I thought I had more time! I also thought I had more dried beans and canned goods! Either way we will probably run out of toilet paper but that ship sailed a couple mass-panic-buying weeks ago!)
Luckily my dude in Brooklyn actually did come through on the thermometer covers.
I'm so mad at the people mass-panic-buying TP. The amount of TP you normally use will also suffice in this situation!!! Now there is no TP to be found for those of us who just need our normal week's worth! Ugh.
Posted by: Chris | March 13, 2020 at 01:17 PM
We are good in toilet paper, but after dealing with a baby who committed every day for a month we just got in the right formula ... and Only have one week supply. Am low key freaking out if we can get another two weeks just as a buffer. Because it’s already been a long month. Maybe I can barter my tp for fancy formula?? (I don’t think I have enough tp for an equitable trade)
Posted by: Raine | March 13, 2020 at 01:29 PM
"We are working very hard on what is and is not APPROPRIATE to CELEBRATE and JOKE ABOUT right now. Also, you WILL read books and there WILL be math because this is NOT your ticket to like, 300 straight hours of screen time and video games.)"
I had the exact same conversation with my 13 year old son as well. He responded by telling me if he gets corona virus he also wants Lyme disease, because you can't have corona without a lime. I am both very disappointed with him and a little impressed. What a butthead.
Posted by: Joanna | March 13, 2020 at 01:30 PM
My son (age 12) has been home with a fever since Tuesday. It broke today. Next week is spring break - we backed out of the cruise we were supposed to take with my parents. Starting March 25 they plan to implement online learning. Details forthcoming. OMG...
Posted by: L | March 13, 2020 at 02:08 PM
No kids here, but my husband teaches at our local community college. He was home on spring break this week and last night they announced spring break is being extended a week. I don’t work because I’m disabled and spend my days either managing pain or trying to half-way manage the house. I know having him home isn’t the same as having kids at home, but it does up end my plans and rhythms and ability to to rest as needed. I don’t know how we’re gonna deal if he ends up home the rest of this semester, or how he’s going to deal if he has to convert all nine(!!!!) if his classes to online.
Posted by: Brandi | March 13, 2020 at 02:26 PM
Hahaha Ike's art and your discription killed me! Cry-laughing. And gah I just realized we are also low on thermometer thingies.
Posted by: Joanna Moore | March 13, 2020 at 02:44 PM
We’re in one of the districts in WA forced to be out until April 24.
Yesterday and today were me getting ready with a homeschool plan. I really hope this doesn’t last into May. Given that we’re in a state of emergency, I think most of the lost time won’t have to be made up should we return to school this year. There has been internet whispers that Wednesday was the last day of school for the year.
In some ways it of course I want to “do my bit” but I was teaching a really great bunch of students and I really want to go back. I should get paid for the time away, but who knows.
I’m super concerned if we(either the city, stare or country) have to go the way of Italy and only food and pharmacies are open. I can’t imagine the economic hardships people will face. Andrew Yang’s basic human allowance is starting to look pretty good.
Posted by: Charlotte | March 13, 2020 at 03:11 PM
Coincidentally, there is an ad for, "Amazon Brand - Presto 308 Sheet Mega Roll Toilet Paper" on your sidebar.
Posted by: Donna | March 13, 2020 at 03:16 PM
If you want your kids to practice math with very little support from you, I recommend the online game Prodigy. It's completely free, and it's sort of like Pokemon but you have to do math problems to fight battles. There's a placement test when you start, and then work is assigned at your level. If you want to get really involved, you can create a free "teacher" account to more closely monitor what they're doing and even assign different skills or topics. It's appropriate for kids who can do math at a first grade level to an eighth grade level. (There is a paid version, but the only thing it does is let the kids earn different/more in-game rewards, and it's stupid expensive.) (Also, the problems can be read aloud to you, so reading skills aren't a barrier to access.)
Khan Academy is another good free online math resource, geared more towards older kids, but I think they recently started developing stuff for younger kids too.
MobyMax covers a lot of different subjects and has a free version as well that gives access to pretty much everything academic, but after a free trial kids don't have access to the rewards and games and fun stuff.
You can set up student accounts for all these things, and if you set yourself up with a "teacher" account, it lets you monitor what they've actually accomplished.
(I'm a special education teacher and I end up using a lot of online resources to support my students, so while I can't necessarily vouch for the pedagogy of these resources, I've found them to be fairy useful, and better than a lot of "educational" gaming sites where you can't monitor activity, track progress, or assign specific skills. Ymmv, of course.)
Posted by: tadpoledrain | March 13, 2020 at 04:07 PM
Buy a "washlet" (easy to install bidet attachment for your toilet) and then you only need a little TP at a time to dry. Less expensive than you think.
Posted by: Elizabeth | March 13, 2020 at 09:17 PM
Reporting from Seattle! Schools closed for 6 weeks here. Highlights of the two days of my husband and I attempting to work full-time while ensuring our kids stayed alive: Day 1 - on a Zoom meeting with the Senior Management Team at my org (ie, all the super high-ups...and me), my 4yo came into my bedroom with his pants around his ankles demanding a butt-wipe. Day 2 - on a call with some Very Important People at an external client, my 4yo started pounding on my bedroom door (see Day 1, I had locked it). "MOMMY! OPEN THE DOOR! MOMMY! IT'S LOCKED!" I told myself that since I had headphones on, no one on the call could hear it. I asked my boss after the call: oh no, it was very audible.
Luckily everyone at work is in the same boat and has a good attitude about this? [shruggie emoji] Ask me how I feel in 2 weeks.
Posted by: Kate | March 13, 2020 at 09:28 PM
My IEP meeting got eaten by a closure this week because someone tested positive at school and now we’ve got 6 weeks tacked on top. But somehow we have to actually have the meeting because they have a legal requirement to get it done within the window after the evaluation. Joy.
On top of me having a dental abscess that earned me a root canal this week. The bathroom renovation isn’t even in my top three this week.
(I prefer sake. Send it to Tacoma)
Posted by: Eva | March 14, 2020 at 12:23 AM
I remember when we got the e-mail that school was closed for two weeks. Sigh, that was so cute. Because now ours are closed for SIX WEEKS AT THE MINIMUM!!! SIX WEEKS!!! Also, if you have anymore of that TP in Kleenex boxes, we could use a few...
Posted by: Rachel A Beto | March 14, 2020 at 01:28 AM
Stay safe. I'm in Washington state. Walmart...no baby formula, to or anyone who had a clue. Schools cancelled for 6 weeks but trader Joe's still had wine...and to kick the festivities off, the econo Lodge down on Central is now become a quarantine holding zone for coronavirus people. It's right by my church. That I will not be going to because I have a newborn. I'm happy about your thermometer covers. Now if I can just find some hand sanitizer!
Posted by: Shay | March 14, 2020 at 02:53 AM
Is it weird how surprised I am that there are so many Washingtonians here @Amalah?
Posted by: Megan | March 14, 2020 at 02:25 PM
Also from Washington over here!! Mine is just a wee toddler so school closures don’t impact me but I have friends with school aged kids, this whole situation is a mess. Those who work outside the home and have jobs where WFH is not possible are scrambling and panicked trying to figure out child care for the next 6 weeks. The ones who stay at home have been bombarded by a tidal wave of other parents asking them to babysit for 6 weeks. Everyone is panicked and nothing is okay.
Also for those struggling to find toilet paper, check hardware stores! Home Depot had a whole aisle full when I was there the other night, in addition to a ton of cleaning supplies. May we all have healthy families and clean asses...Godspeed.
Posted by: Kelsey | March 14, 2020 at 09:10 PM
Solidarity. We are on week 4 stuck at home here in South Korea. Our school sent out an email on a Saturday morning that Monday would start "spring break." The following week they moved to virtual learning, so at least my kids have instruction from the school and I don't have to pretend I am at all interested in home schooling them. They have seen friends twice in the past 3.5 weeks and we are all going a bit stir crazy but we are healthy and new cases of the virus are slowing here so hopefully they will be back to school in April. Social distancing SUCKS but it works. Good luck, everyone stateside, you can do this!
Posted by: Jill | March 16, 2020 at 12:44 AM
I am one of those tasked with figuring out how to move to online learning for my 3 college courses. I have never taught an online course. I spent the last three days of 'spring break' working on various potential solutions, only to find most of them won't work. We are required to submit 'work plans' that detail how learning objectives will be met for the foreseeable future. What I would like to say is how the fuck do I know, but somehow that seems inappropriate to send to my department chair/dean. Shrug emoji. Just going to try to do my best and I hope my students will do the same. God help us all.
Posted by: Barb | March 16, 2020 at 09:40 AM
Philadelphia based here. Home for two weeks (minimum) with two kids. School has sent out virtual learning information with 3.5 hours of work my kids need to do each day.
Somehow I am also supposed to get my job done and maintain a house. Good news is that some obnoxious woman hip-checked me at the grocery, so out of spite I bought the 30 pack of toilet paper she was lunging for. I'm happy to send rolls to kind people as needed!
Posted by: Annelise | March 16, 2020 at 12:27 PM
As an introvert, I CANNOT FRIKKEN WAIT to get furloughed for 2 weeks or more. My job is not WFH friendly (due to the job, not the management). My office is still open. Schools are closed, but my daycare is still open. Darn it, I want to sleep in and read books all day!!
Posted by: Jeffiner | March 16, 2020 at 12:50 PM
Same county so same damn situation. Dealing with the fact that no work was sent home with my middle schooler so trying to find a way to keep her brain from rotting in Roblox
Posted by: Dawn | March 16, 2020 at 01:36 PM
All 3 of mine love Prodigy, even the 8th grader. We will also be employing Bookflix, Scholastic, and ABCya. Now as far as the one in Spanish Immersion Im at a lost. Do novellas with the captions turned on count?
They are closing schools "indefinitely" here so please direct the wine to Dallas.
Posted by: Melissa | March 17, 2020 at 09:08 AM
Oh, wow, you guys! Kansas has canceled the rest of the school year! Oy. Send help, Toto! This is crazy times...
Posted by: Carla Goodrich | March 17, 2020 at 10:44 PM