Seriously, Sam? is a column that looks at the lighter side of suburban life. This month, Sam shows us how she is managing mom life at home during the Covid 19 Quarantine.
Last week I got a report card for my 5th grader. The text was clearly a cut-and-paste with praise for things like “being a good digital citizen” and “participating in every aspect of the Zoom classroom.” Any reference to actual work was also completely generic, e.g., “the endangered species presentation is coming along nicely.” There were no grades, just pass/fail. I think the purpose was to let us know whether or not our kids are getting by, in this uncharted online learning world. But for my daughter, who has been busting her ass up in her bedroom, just passing kind-of sucked.
For us mothers, working really hard and getting zero feedback is nothing new. Our thankless work is the punchline of at least 3 out of every 5 mom jokes, (the others are about drinking by 10 am). But, with Mother’s Day around the corner and my job description expanded to include stenographer, personal assistant, chef, tutor and cheerleader, I decided I wanted a report card too. And a real one, none of this pass/fail crap. Guess how I did?
|Student: Samantha Woodruff|
|OVERALL GRADE: COVID STAY-AT-HOME PERIOD||A+|
Sam has helped broadened her family’s vocabulary skills by including powerful expletives like sh*t, f*k and son-of-a-b*tch, into most of her daily communications. In addition, Sam has modeled a love of reading as she spends hours on the sofa with her Kindle, telling everyone to “leave her the f*k alone.”
Sam has repeatedly failed to explain (or understand) the difference between ‘counting up’ and an ‘algorithm’, in spite of many efforts to eavesdrop on her 2nd grader’s lessons. However, she has introduced her kids to key economic concepts like:
Supply and demand and price gouging:
“I know you want ketchup but that bottle costs $100 on Amazon. Why? I guess because lots of people want ketchup right now, so assholes are charging too much money for it.”
Supply chain logistics:
“Please stop screaming. I know the special toy we ordered to reward you for making it through another week of sitting still in front of a computer screen learning how to add money, a.k.a. attending online 2nd grade, was supposed to come today, but shipping is very delayed because there are less people to deliver things and more people ordering them. Sh*t happens. Suck it up.”
Sam has employed a variety of interactive learning tools, like Netflix, TikTok and Apple TV to foster her children’s emotional intelligence and expand their familiarity with a breadth of cultural touchpoints.
1. Appreciating someone for who they are, not how they look (Love is
2. Crafting unique music based on popular culture (“Carole Baskin, killed her husband, whacked him”)
3. The importance of good oral hygiene (Austin Powers 1, 2, & 3)
She has also encouraged her children to learn more about criminal justice, human anatomy and styling, by allowing limitless hours of Mad City, Broken Bones and Fashion Famous on Roblox.
In addition to TikTok dancing (see above,) Sam yells from the sofa for her children to “go outside and play” at least once a day. Occasionally, she also makes the kids accompany her when she attempts to train their dogs to walk off-leash, which inevitably results in several wind sprints trying to catch them. The dogs, obviously. Not the kids. The kids, she would just let run away.
Sam’s creative side has really shown through during this grading period. She and her children have tie-dyed an entire wardrobe, built a 2 ft model of the Titanic from recycled materials, created fairy gardens in small pots and hand loomed a rope that Sam plans to use as a noose, in the event that there is no real school in the Fall.
While Sam has not enforced attendance at online school Science, she did sacrifice three eggs for her kids to put in vinegar until the shell dissolved away and the membrane became opaque and bouncy. It would have been two, but she dropped the first one right during the grand reveal which, obviously, led to a hysterical meltdown for her son. Still, it was a pretty cool experiment.
By allowing almost-unlimited device time Sam has fostered a deep love of, and fluency with, technology in both children.
Thanks to Sam’s clever addition of this subject, her children are now capable of rinsing 75% of the food residue off of dishes, unloading the dishwasher, mopping the floor and doing laundry. That does not mean that the little shits ever actually do it, but at least now they know how.
Ok, so maybe there is a teensy bit of grade inflation here. But being a mom is an endurance sport under regular conditions; during this extended stay-at-home period, it is like climbing Everest without any training, extra oxygen or a Sherpa. And I have it easy. No one in my family is a front-line worker. We are all healthy. We have a comfortable home. A backyard. A weekly Fresh Direct delivery slot.
Still, it is exhausting to have to force my son to go to school every day in the face of extreme protest. To plan and cook every single meal. To rub backs and hold hands and provide precious tissues for the more frequent tears. To invent games and arrange Zoom “play dates” and drive by friend’s houses so we can wave. To be the one charged with both acknowledging that this is
really fucking hard and teaching my kids to make the best of it. So, if my kids now know a few curse words and little more than they should about sex, so what? They are also learning that the world can be scary, but they can be ok. That sometimes no one has the answers and we just have to sit with uncertainty. That even though we need to see our friends, we can still have a pretty terrific time alone, as a family. And, when all else fails (which it does at least several times a week) once it is 10 AM, an ice cream sundae (for them) and a bottle of rose (for me)
make everything better.
Wishing all you moms out there a happy, healthy Mother’s Day and sending extra love and appreciation to my own mom, who taught me everything I know.