Archive for April, 2020

PostHeaderIcon Parenting in a Shutdown

It’s been 3 weeks since schools shut down. For my 13 year old, life has been a dream. She has a little world of her own inside her room. Every corner, shelf, space is a collection of things she’s saved since she was a toddler. She’s almost a hoarder. She can stay in her room all day and if possible, have her meals there too. She’s pretty indifferent about going to school, and though she’s a diligent student she never really understood the purpose of physically going to another building to learn. Don’t get me wrong. She’s social enough and a great conversationalist. She has many friends and loves them dearly. But this new system of online classes, a chunk of assigned work, a few Zoom calls tucked in here and there, some accountability but without the rigmarole of a rushed morning routine and walking through crowded hallways while trying to balance an oversized binder and a Chromebook, seems refreshing to her. She has a check off list for herself, so every morning, she sets an alarm, gets ready, completes her schoolwork, has her meal and then she’s either perfecting her Minecraft skills, or researching the most unusual topics. She’s also been singing and playing her piano. Oh, and how can we forget TikTok? I have had zero problems with this child as I adjusted my expectations based on her abilities. I know she will take care of her schoolwork. I have also accepted that it takes her 20 minutes to understand why she needs to help me vacuum when she could be doing more important tasks such as rummaging through old boxes in the shed for her toys from when she was three. I have also accepted the fact that she is not like me, and as much as I hate to admit it, I think it might be a good thing, eventually.

My 17 year old had her finals the week we shut down and has since been free of academic bondage. So I gave her a list of chores to do like most mothers would — a carefully crafted list with visuals and words of affirmations, clear directions all in a table format demonstrating my high tech skills and meticulous planning style. That list, my friends, is a piece of art. But here’s a snippet. The girls each have a cupboard in addition to a walk-in closet. I truly believe that Marya’s cupboard contains her retired knick knacks but more importantly, it is a collection of items that have mysteriously disappeared from the house, such as my fancy pair of gold shoes, some jewelry that was borrowed for an event and lost, possibly a packet of socks that were bought but never found, blankets that have since gone missing… basically I am convinced that everything I am looking for since last year can be found there, hence my interest in cleaning it out. I asked Marya to clean that cupboard and I promise not to judge or utter a single word of reprimand, that I will gracefully put everything we find in there in the right place and erase it from my memory and will not say “see I told you it was there!” I will report back in a few days regarding the outcome. The thing with my kids is that just like all other kids, they are kids. When they go to bed, I take a deep breath and shift my thinking for a few minutes. I realize they are struggling with this new weird situation we’re in all of a sudden. We all are. As adults we feel responsible and hope we can make this shutdown productive so when they go back to school and resume normal life, they are still useful human beings who have retained their learning. We also want them to have a routine and not wile away this time. I am still teaching, be it in the most unusual manner, have a ton of professional development to accomplish and none of my daily chores seem to have gone away. I still cook and clean, in fact, clean a bit more than normal, I still do the gazillion other things we adults do, but I think I worry a bit too much as well. I don’t always model the kinds of behaviors I expect from my children. Like today, I told Marya we would take a break and do yoga at noon. At 1 pm she asked me if I was still going to spend time with her. It broke my heart.

Sometimes I get so absorbed in my own life that I forget my little ones have feelings too. Later, we talked at length about anxiety stemming from the unknown, and we talked about unspoken fears that have emanated from the happenings around us. Our kids like to see us as solid pillars with everflowing faith and security but seeing our vulnerable and imperfect side gives them compassion. We made a pact that we’d be more realistic and chalk out a plan together. We talked about how dad still has to go to work and as much as they stay 6 feet apart over there and washes his hands excessively, he has his own set of anxieties. And that maybe Sara was dealing with her anxiety by finding toys from her past. And that Marya needs to talk more to relieve her worries. And maybe if I didn’t spend so much time designing Pinterest worthy lists I could spend time actually helping my kido with her cupboard problems…and one day, she could help me with mine. We’re all together in this. And like everything else, this too shall pass.

The Serenity Prayer

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


PostHeaderIcon Times have changed: Covid-19 thoughts

Working from home has been quite interesting to say the least. No more packing lunches and rushing in the morning with my 8th grader’s breakfast falling out of her hands, and getting out of the door just in time to navigate through the buses and what seems like the entire West Valley traffic right outside my door. A one minute drive to my school would take 18 whole minutes, people!

But I miss that chaos. There was so much order in it.

Now I’m cooking a lot more. My kids seem to be hungry all the time. They don’t ask for fancy meals but I find myself bursting with creative juices. I also seem to be cleaning a lot more. My husband is still going to work everyday and when he enters the house, I see him as a socially-undistanced person and a threat to my beautifully sanitized home (I exaggerate) though truth be told, they are being very safe and mindful at their “essential” workplace and we are grateful. I seem to be doing a lot more laundry as well! All of my OCD has been coming out in different ways, some creative, some utterly annoying as I hear sighs of frustration from my family members. I have created more work for myself in addition to our online teaching experimentation and delivery. I guess we have all found our own special ways of dealing with this quarantine life.

Overall, I am spending a great deal of time with my daughters. I have always enjoyed that and now there’s a part of me that secretly craves conversations with teenagers. Those of you who teach this age of kids know what I am talking about. Teenagers are the most beautiful people ever. They are little adults that need love, attention and validation, and when they get all of that, they gracefully accept whatever direction you may have for them. They are so hungry to be heard. And oh goodness, how lovely do they sound! I have to throw something in here:

As I’m writing this note, my younger daughter calls out for me from upstairs:

Daughter: Mom, can you come upstairs?
Me: Oh, I just sat down. Today was bathrooms cleaning day, then I showered, then I cooked dinner, cleaned the kitchen and I just sat down.
Daughter: If you’re struggling being a parent then you should have thought twice about becoming a parent when you did!
Me: No sweetheart, no struggle here. I love being a parent.

How can you not love these little sassy younglings? She just wanted me to sit on her bed so she could chat with me while she colored in her room. I should have listened before bursting out with my life rants. Sometimes I, the parent need to grow up.

So as I was saying, isn’t it amazing how a tiny little inconspicuous virus has been controlling our lives these last few weeks? Makes me humbled, and a little mad because now I need to wear a nifty face mask and think many times before going out. There’s also perspective thrown at me about how I think I have my life in control after so many years of working hard and all of sudden, one day I am told, as are all of you, that we can’t do what we have been trained to do anymore, that we can’t touch things as we please and sit with friends when we feel like. Hashtag wow! Hashtag perspective.

I guess we get to experience a new lifestyle and create a new normal now. Just read a bunch of posts by my teacher friends. Feel blessed to belong to a community of people who are so passionate. I know that we will make this school year worthwhile in the most innovative of ways. I’m thinking of all the learning that will happen for us teachers. I’m thinking of the so many adjustments parents and students will make, and some days it will not be pretty and kind. Graduations, finals, SATs, college admissions, missions, proms, concerts, plays — everything sits in an obscure space. But you know what, there is a greater purpose and meaning to all this, and like a wise man once said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

I am also thinking about the many folks around the world who have been affected by this situation in ways of finances and ill-health and unwelcome solitude. How I cherish the freedom we had and will have. I have faith that this too shall pass.

I just want all my friends and fam to know that I’m here for you. I can chat, talk, even come see you (if you live in my city) and stay 6ft away from you. If you need me to cook a meal, I will gladly do so. I pray for everyone’s health and protection. Please pray for us. We are together in this!