By Didi Gorman
And so begins another day of remote-learning at our place.
Child #1 is sitting on her bed, typing answers to a math quiz on the tablet.
She’s always been good at math, I muse as I walk across the living room. She can do additions, subtractions, divisions, multiplica–
What was THAT??? That scared me! My foot just hit an object on the floor and, whatever it was, it’s now flying across the room, landing in the hallway.
Hey, it’s the iPad! What was the iPad doing on the floor?
I look down. Child #2 is performing the floor bow yoga pose on the carpet, following instructions still coming out of the now-distant iPad. I apologize hastily, fetch the rogue device and reposition it on the carpet right beside child #2’s face. I don’t want to interrupt the yoga class.
When another set of instructions comes from the iPad, child #2 – still sprawled on the carpet – thrusts his arms in all directions.
I narrowly escape the erratic punches and seek safety in the kitchen, where child #3 is attending a visual arts tutorial.
The laptop is open on the table and I hear the teacher demonstrating acrylics-mixing techniques.
Is it my imagination or is my young Picasso mixing the paints in the fancy China teacups?
No, it isn’t my imagination; it definitely isn’t my imagination.
“Come look, mommy! Look at all the paints on my paint palette!” child #3 calls out, wiping her hands on a white silk tablecloth that she’s using as a rag (how in heaven’s name did she manage to find it? I thought I hid it in the cupboard), and lifting some kind of a shiny tray to show me.
Good gracious, please tell me it’s not the silver tray that used to belong to my great-great-grandma.
I stare at the tray in horror. It’s covered with various splotches of unrecognizable mixed paint.
Child #3 looks at me expectantly.
“Oh, wow…” I manage at last. “That’s uh… so, uh… so… creative!”
Never mind, I tell myself. What’s done is done. We weren’t using the silver tray anyway. Or the white silk tablecloth. Or the fancy China teacups.
I think I’m developing a small migraine. I need some fresh air. I’ll go for a walk and figure out how to break it to mom that the silver tray that has been passed down in the family from generation to generation for over two hundred years, has been sacrificed on the altar of young art.
As I approach the walk-in closet to grab my coat, I hear a muffled discussion coming from inside – something about the solar system and Mars’s gravity. Ah, yes, that must be child #4’s astrophysics lesson. The walk-in closet sure is a cozy, if somewhat compact, learning space.
I eavesdrop for a couple of minutes and learn about Planet Pluto’s recent fall from grace. Poor Pluto had been demoted from a ‘real planet’ to a ‘dwarf star’. Ouch.
I’m about to knock on the closet’s door to tell child #4 that I need my coat when a realization hits me.
I don’t have four children! I only have three!
Who is it in the walk-in closet, then?
I swing the door open.
The neighbors’ undergraduate son, Dylan, is in there, sitting on a small pile of jackets, holding a cellphone, and talking into a wireless headset earpiece. He notices me and waves hello.
“Hi Dylan,” I whisper, “Why are you in my closet?”
Turns out, he came knocking on our front door earlier, searching for a quiet corner to study. (He couldn’t concentrate at his place now that his sister is training to become a trombone player.) Knowing our front door was often unlocked, he allowed himself in and went straight into the walk-in closet, where he found all the calm and peace he needed – until I barged in.
Ah, okay then. I apologize for the disruption and gently pull the closet’s door shut. If the path to academic brilliance must go through my walk-in closet, so be it.
I just hope he doesn’t tell all his friends about the safe haven that is my closet or I may never be able to retrieve my coat again.
So, there. Just another day of remote-learning at our place, with very minor inconveniences.
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