(Before I start, apologies for the ENORMOUS text. I'm not trying to shout - this post's settings are just screwed up...)
So. Here we are in Week 14 of Home Learning. (Well - Wk 12 if you deduct the two week holiday in the middle. I don't. Because it didn't really seem like a holiday, what with all the fretting and worrying etc). What have we learned, parents?
- Back at the start of this, you may have set up work stations to help everyone get their work done in peace. Cue hollow laughter. We've always known it, and Lockdown has confirmed it; the kitchen table is magnetic. It draws in people, pencil cases, clutter, bowls of fruit, old receipts, unread books and laptops like some kind of domestic Death Star. To top this off, the chairs around it will be festooned with charging cables, earphone cords, dog leads, cardigans and sweatshirts like the cobwebs in the cave of Shelob the spider in The Lord of Rings, and all of them - ALL of them - are directly in the dog's path when the doorbell rings and he goes from snoring noisily in the corner to a one hundred mile an hour dash though the house. And as he races, barking crazily, towards the front door to defend his territory from the evil postman, you and your kids will have to throw yourselves across the whole set of wire spaghetti to stop your precious electronics crashing to the floor like a sea captain and her crew trying to protect their charts in a heavy squall.
- And whilst we're on the subject of the kitchen table (that you and your children sit at all day, every day, Every. Ruddy. Day. FOR EVER.), sooner or later books will be lost, pens mislaid, cups of tea and glasses of water knocked over and you - YOU - will have to a) clear it up and b) not lose your shit about this because c) this whole situation is ridiculous and frankly, not your childrens' fault and d) if you don't it's your phone that will get soaked (because your kids' phones are, of course, in their hands).
- Speaking of your phone, it goes missing, about twenty times a day...
- ... and it's always exactly where you left it, in the first place you looked but couldn't find it, as if some malicious house elf has been messing with your mind.
- You can never find though, until you ask one of your kids to call it for you and it reveals itself nestled in the leaf-litter on the kitchen table, tucked safely between a Domino's pizza flyer and the text book one of your children last opened on Lockdown Week 2 and which - despite repeated requests it be put away - has somehow mysteriously made it's way from table to counter and back again every day for the last 12 weeks
- Breathe. Deeply.
- Furthermore, and I can't believe this will come as a surprise to most parents, children can be impressively sneaky when it comes to online learning. (MY children, at any rate). They will wait until your attention is directed elsewhere and then toggle across from whatever they are supposed to be looking at online to something way more entertaining. And should you dare ask questions about what exactly they've been working on, or ask to see the work they need to submit, you may be treated to an Oscar-winning performance of hurt and disappointed indignation that you could ever doubt their actions. (This is usually where I point out that they're not fooling me - I was once a child, too).
- I don't blame them, having been known to flip my screen from browsing through holiday porn to that VERY IMPORTANT E-MAIL when I hear them about to enter the room...
- Last, but most definitely not least, time spent alone outside for odd huff, puff and - possibly - scream is an underrated form of therapy.