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To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool? That is the Question.

Who here is struggling with whether or not to homeschool in the fall? I am raising my hand virtually, because I can’t decide! I mean, on the one hand, I am totally in fear of the fact that I will have to be their teacher again, and I’m gonna be honest…I wasn’t that great at it! Not only did I lack some real patience, but I also let them have recess too long, and I skimmed over some stuff, and I totally let them take advantage of me, like we used to do when we told the substitute we were never given homework on Tuesdays.

On the other hand, I don’t want to send them to school and worry each day that they’re carrier monkeys who didn’t wear their masks, or didn’t wash their hands, and did not keep their distance at recess. I can say now from my observations this summer, that when kids get together, the distance seems to go out the window. So then, I think, “Okay, let’s just bite the bullet, and I will step up and be a good teacher. I will have a curriculum, and I will stick to a schedule and I will forgo my life for the school year, even more so.”

Then…I sit on the couch and stare out the window, frozen, and think about making a run to the liquor store.

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Fact: I didn’t look like this. I was not smiling, and my hair isn’t that short.

So maybe I won’t make a decision. Isn’t that a decision? I just want people to decide for me. I remember going to therapy, and I’d ask the therapist, “Can’t you just tell me what to do?” And she’d be all, “No, that’s not my job! You have to figure that out for yourself. I can lead you in that direction, but I can’t make a decision for you.” Well that made my decision: not to go to therapy anymore…

Also, don’t our decisions constantly change? Or is that just me? For example, today, I implored my children to go to the beach with me. See how messed up that sounds? Like, I have to beg someone to go to the BEACH? How ’bout y’all get a job, and then we can talk about how painful the beach is… Anyway, so my daughter says to me, “No! I’m not going so you can sit on your can in the sun and not swim!”

SIT ON MY CAN!

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What I sit on

Can you believe she said that to me? First off, where’d she get that expression (#guilty?). Second, I had to not laugh (even though it was kinda hysterical) and tell her that she better shape up and stop disrespecting me.

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So we decided not to go to the beach and instead to go to the Vineyard on the ferry boat. Good plan? Okay, maybe. So I go get dressed, walk the dogs, get ready to roll, and the kids are not moving. They’re now settled in with their devices, playing Adopt Me and Shark Hunt, and now I’m pacing back and forth like a rabid hyena telling them we “NEED TO GO!” so we can find parking and get on the hot, COVID ferry only to ride over and be hot in a mask. They didn’t respond.

So I decided not to go to the Vineyard.

Now I am doing this.

See? I can’t make a decision. Can you? Homeschool or no? 

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The Storm Before the Calm

 

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Jim Carrey as Fire Marshall Bill

Have you ever had a Fire Marshall Bill moment when you suddenly just want to exit left abruptly and there’s no stopping you? I had one of those moments yesterday when I was out with several friends. In fact, my insistence that I jettison myself from the scene ASAP was noted by one, who even called me Fireman Bill! Here is what I looked like:

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So here was the scene. I’m sitting there trying to drink this heinous, fluorescent yellow Chardonnay that tasted like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and I suddenly came to the conclusion that I must go home. I wasn’t sure why I felt this way, until I actually got home and had a full meltdown while walking my dogs that I didn’t want to live here on Cape Cod anymore. I am not sure what came over me.

It reminded me of those times in New York City when I’d ride the subway and just start crying. To me, that was sort of a regular thing. And, really, it didn’t seem problematic,(LOLing) because there were so many other people around and no one seemed to notice! One minute, I’d be subway surfing and balancing while holding onto the dirty pole with two fingers, and the next I’d be sitting down and crying, staring at the floor.

Well, one time, someone did notice. It was this guy sitting across from me. He gave me an empathetic side smile and handed me a book, his book, and got off the train. By the time I registered what had happened, he was gone. It was a yellow business book, called Time is Money, and on the inside of the cover, he wrote: “Nice Things Happen.” I’ll never forget that.

It’s true.

So, back to me gripping and walking my dogs last night, I ran into a neighbor. I don’t know her well, but we have kids who are similar ages. She told me she was struggling, (maybe I was looking haggard and obvious?), and I was so appreciative! In fact, so much so, that I think I was legit like yelling positive affirmations about parenting to a mother from across the street at Volume 50. Me: No, totally, I get it! I do! We must get together! I am here for you!

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Anyway, I walked on and started to legit bawl that I wanted to move! I didn’t know how I could stay here anymore. I was carrying two doggie bags of poop, holding one dog leash in one hand and one in the other, and hunched over. I  was like, “How did this happen? I am not from Cape Cod. How have I been here so long! I need to go!” The poop bags were a metaphor.

BUT!

I woke up, and things are a lot nicer today.

I did some writing, went for a run, and I turned off the music on my iPhone. I walked past the beach and stopped to take these photos, thinking how insane I was to be crying that I was forced to live here. Where I live is beautiful, and I’m so lucky to be here!

Okay, now I’m not trying to be that person who tags all of her social media photos with #Blessed #whywelivehere, ’cause that’s just annoying. It’s almost as annoying as #goodtimes #goodfriends.

But sometimes you have a Fire Marshall Bill moment! And then you cry and put out the fire.

And what’s left is calm.

 

 

 

 

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When You Quit in a Pandemic, and Hit your Head.

Did you hear the one about the woman who quit her job during a pandemic?! You didn’t? Well, now you have: it’s me! Yeah, no joke, actually. But you know what? Before you go on chastising me and asking me how the hell I will support myself, don’t fret–I got this covered. Momma has been saving, and there’s a reason I’ve been buying Route 66 brand gear at Walmart for a couple years, so now I can take my time to pivot into my next move. And, I will spend the summer finishing my second book about three women living on Cape Cod who end up dating the same man! (Stay tuned)

I know, it’s crazy, right??? Well, I invite you to join me on my journey. The journey has started somewhat roughly, as I hit my forehead on the corner of my car door the other night when I was buying candy for the kids after the beach. Here is what I looked like.

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Oh, and, yes, those are tears in my eyes, because it hurt…like, a lot. I’ve been applying copious amounts of Vaseline and Vitamin E on it, so I won’t look like Rocky Dennis in Mask (’80s movie with Cher. So good). I mean, my face is my money-maker, so I have to protect it. Wait, what? Er…but, no, seriously, I asked my son if I looked bad or heinous with this cut on my forehead, and you know what he said? He said, “I can’t tell the difference between that cut and the other lines on your forehead.”

And…fade to black. Drop the mic.

I also had the unfortunate experience of having to scold my daughter for being rude to me this morning.  And I say rude in quotes, because she was like an alien creature that hatched from the lower depths. See, she couldn’t find a card she had made for her dad for Father’s Day, and so she tore her room apart, screaming, pulling drawers of clothes out of her dresser, and eventually accusing me of tossing it out.

“You throw out everything!” she screamed in the spawn of the Devil’s voice from upstairs.

I went up, tried to calmly help her look through her FOUL room that literally had a candy toilet plunger stuck to the nice wood bookcase, and we didn’t find it. In the interim, I cleaned her room and, yes, threw a lot of stuff out. Ya’ know what? You don’t play with it for six months? It’s gone. Ya’ done. Pare down. So, eventually, after I yelled at her, and called in support from her dad, she wrote me this apology note. Oh, and she calls me “Moo,” as in moo cow. I mean, wait, should I be offended by that?

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Anyway….that’s the start to my new life. A little rough, but kinda excited.

 

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Dear Parents, The yard doesn’t cut it anymore

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“I don’t want to invite anyone to come over to play in our backyard,” my daughter said.
“Why not?” I asked, ready to lob out the invite.
“Because it’s boring,” she said. “We have nothing to do here. I’d rather go somewhere else.”
This hurt.
Of course, she’s referring to the fact that we don’t have a pool or a large trampoline (in fact, we do have a smaller one, and we even have a cool swing set!). But, nowadays, unless you have all the gadgets, gizmos and a virtual Disneyland resort, your backyard is, well, a snooze fest. Dull, dismal and…boring.

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Now I know this is a thing with this new generation, and I’m getting in my old lady whicker rocker now and sipping on an Arnold Palmer when I say this, but remember the days of yore when we had like a tree and some acorns to play with in the backyard? Maybe just a crappy sandbox, too?

Well, I do.

I recall playing with imaginary friends, or making a “house” over the vent above our basement with rocks and grass. The neighbors would come, and we’d play kick the can till the sun went down, or we’d make forts with dirt and mud.

There was no zip line, no pool, no hot tub, nothing. Sometimes, my neighbor would have her parents’ camper out back, and we’d move into that for the weekend, tape recording ourselves doing interviews in different voices on an old-school tape recorder. We’d eat rolls of Now & Laters and Jolly Ranchers, play Mad Libs, or MASH. We’d trade stickers or play Chinese jump rope, share the one barbie doll we had between us, creating different hairstyles.

Now, I have 50 barbies and a barbie camper for my child. And an iPad, two dogs, bikes, and a swing set. But it’s boring here? I’m not sure how to keep up. Last year, we were able to join the pool. Now, we have to stay home to be safe.

“Want to run through the sprinkler?!” I ask, thinking this might be a solution. Her look says it all. This, too, is boring and “cold.”

So, we can tell them not to be spoiled, to appreciate what they have, or the “When I was young, I played with acorns,” stories, but it doesn’t seem to resonate. For now, I wonder, what I can BUY to make my yard more “fun?” This is just sad.

You can’t buy an imagination or a sense of wonder. 

Do you think our kids will look back when they’re older and say, “Remember that time I got Robucks, and we sat next to each other on our iPads buying Adopt Me pets or Fortnite skins?”

I don’t know. They might.

But, for now, I’ll sit in my boring backyard and wait to see!

 

 

 

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As the School Admins Consider Next Year…

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My day unofficially starts at 5:30 when, half-asleep, I hobble down the stairs carrying one dog in one hand, while the other is nipping at my bare feet to take them outside. I then go upstairs and try to get some sleep for another hour or so until my youngest child rises at 7.

“Do we have school today?” she asks, leaping to get dressed.
“Yep,” I say. “But let me get some coffee first.”
I make the coffee, log into my work email, log into my personal email to see if the kids have mandatory Zoom meetings, and then…BEGIN.

Over the course of the next five hours, I have an anxious stomach, combined with a feeling of harried frenzy and drowning.

“How do you spell Memorial Day?” my daughter inquires. I’m in the middle of typing out a case statement for my job.
“Huh?” I say, still focused and typing on my laptop.
“How do you spell–”
“I don’t know, honey,” I snap. “Ask Siri.”

Then the guilt seeps in.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “Can you just hold on for a few minutes while I finish this?”
She agrees and stares at me while I finish typing. But I’m nowhere near done with work. I have to pause to help her with her assignments, as she can’t do them herself at age 7, but I’m half-present. One half of my brain is concerned that I have to finish work for my job, and the other half is trying to be a good mother and teacher with patience

This conversation repeats itself about five more times until 1:00 p.m.

In the interim, my son is on my other laptop (since I was never given that promised Chromebook we were supposed to get) wailing about how “stupid” this all is and yelling, “It’s too much! I need help.” I go to him to help him understand a passage, which, truthfully, I have to reread about two times myself, because I don’t even understand it.

My body is now a raw nerve, an axon without myelin sheath. I am the definition of stress.

By 1:30,  I realize no one has really eaten much, including myself. Well, there was the Oreo ice cream she fed herself, and some cereal, but he denied any food until now. So now I have to make meals. Sh*t, I haven’t gone to the grocery store other than to get a few items here and there, and I think we have, like, nothing.

It’s now 2 p.m., and I continue to do work for my job, all the while wondering how I can entertain the children. They can’t be on their devices all afternoon, because that would be bad parenting. And, they can’t really play with any friends in the neighborhood, because of the pandemic.

So, I am stuck.

I let them play on their ipads for a bit and then tell them they have to play outside in the back, or that I will pay my son to entertain my daughter until I finish work.

This is how every day goes until 5. I just try to get through it, and then it happens again the next day.

I write this today, because conversations are swirling back and forth on text between me and some mothers as to the plans for school next year. There are ideas of: (1) going back half the week, an “A” group and a “B” group, and, (2) continuing to homeschool.

How about (3)–something else, because neither one of those works for me, or for any full-time, single parent.

I realize this is unprecedented, and no one knows what to do at this point in time, and the school administration is trying to factor in everyone’s needs and wants. I just hope mothers and fathers in my situation are considered. It is not possible to continue in this way. Something has to give, and right now, it’s just me.