Work From Home Adventures Pt. 3

Here we are in the last week of April and I don’t know about you, but I’m not quite sure how we got here. Oh, I know how I’ve been spending the days: Zoom calls, constant emails, “teaching” third grade, overseeing at home ballet class, cooking so much I feel like I could be the next Rachel Ray, checking temperatures “just in case” and basically trying my best to stay positive, for my students and staff, for my daughter who is handling this like a rockstar, and perhaps most importantly, for myself. I know once I lose the ability to get up each morning and find something new to make me smile, something new to learn how to do, or even some elaborate recipe to prepare, then I will have given up and that would let the sadness that has our country in its grip triumph over me. I’m not about to let that happen.

So, what did I learn this week? Oh, a few things…how to make brownies from scratch, ( not bad), how to make pulled pork in a slow cooker, ( excellent!) how to teach an 8 year old how to read and draw bar graphs for math class, ( challenging) and how to make cave art drawings ( I won’t share a picture!). I also learned a very important lesson- children are so resilient and able to see the fun in situations that drive us as adults out of our minds most of the time. Now, I have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney Plus, Broadway HD, Boomerang…at the touch of my fingertips there are literally thousands of things I can watch to unwind at the end of the day. Yet, in the weeks since March 12, I have watched exactly ONE new show- The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. ( Perhaps a mistake…I had nightmares for at least 3 nights!). I just can’t relax and unwind enough to really enjoy anything- no new shows have caught my interest and I even get frustrated at my old go-to shows. 

I know, I know, I started to say something about kids…and I brought up all of those channels to help illustrate my point. ( I do have one, I promise!) I got an email from Netflix this week, explaining how to set up a Watch Party. Basically, I pick a movie, send a link to friends and then we all can watch movie together. A little chat bar opens on the side of the movie so we can text back and forth in a big group discussion. Now, I have no interest in doing this- I don’t even like it when people talk during previews at the movies, but Miss Abby was so interested in the idea, I thought I’d let her try it out.

Abby picked The Grinch, had me invite some of her friends, and asked that they wear Christmas clothes and have snacks. I figured the fun of this “watch party” would wear off quickly. After all, they can’t see each other, and they have to type to communicate. Was I ever wrong! What a huge hit this was, not only with Abby but with her friends too. In fact, they begged to do it again the very next day. Now, all of her friends don’t know each other, but that did not stop them from chatting away and discussing, amongst other kid topics, the movie itself. As a Film teacher, I can’t tell you how proud that made me. Kids as young as 7 years old, talking about movies together and just finding yet another unique way to be in each other’s company.

Kids are resilient, and what I’m seeing from these young kids is amazing. It’s fun to go to virtual theater, taking dance classes via Outschool is something to look forward to every day, a remote book discussion club on an American Girl book is actually encouraging Abby to read more, and a Netflix party for 2 hours is a cause for day long excitement among her and her friends. Do they miss each other? Very much, I know. However they are adapting, and most days, adapting much better than I am.

I feel inspired when I see them “interacting”, my daughter and her friends. I feel excited even if just for a few moments at the fact that she can still have fun during all this. Most of all, I feel a sense of pride, as the mother of a strong little girl, one who will not let anything halt her day to day life. She may have to change the way she does things a bit, but she’s still going to play and laugh and hang out with her friends and find ways to cajole me into giving her more snacks ( what’s a movie party without snacks??). In short, she’s still going to be “her”…the girl I have loved for almost 9 years now. Many of you readers also have girls, older than mine, but also just as strong in your homes right now. Look to them daily when all of this seems to be just too much to bear. Look at their faces, as they log into TikTok, as they FaceTime, even as they talk to teachers via Zoom. 

Is this ideal? Not at all. Is this the life we want for our girls? Not by a long shot. But we can and should learn from them, to stay strong, stay smiling and stay positive in the face of this pandemic. We should, as they are, look for the silver linings that are offered to us (not just from Netflix) and to take advantage of them. In short, we should all embrace the “virtual party” until we can celebrate family and friends together in person once again. 

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