Third Grade: After Hours

I am Billy Madison

September 14, 2020

Y’all ever seen Billy Madison?

Well, my kids are in Warren County School District’s “Option Two,” also known as Virtual Academy. So now I am Billy Madison.

With family members at increased risk for COVID-19, we didn’t have an option of going back to a brick-and-mortar educational experience this year. Which is terrible, because I’ve been looking forward to my kids going back to a brick-and-mortar educational experience since last March. I love sending my kids off on the magic school bus and going about my day – working, completing tasks, and basically enjoying some kid-free time – more than anything.

Not more than my kids.

Stop looking at me like that.

You know what I’m saying. I need my kids to go to school for a lot of reasons, but perhaps the benefit of sending my kids to public school I’m grieving most right now is the fact that it creates a routine for our family.

We need routine.

Also, I am not a teacher. I’ve never been shy about praising my kids’ teachers. You want to take my kid for eight hours a day and teach them math when they don’t want to know math? You’re a saint and I love you.

I’ve always said that I have no idea how teachers do what they do. They’re truly amazing. The ability to engage a child and get them from a place of not knowing something to knowing it? It’s amazing. And amazingly difficult. No matter who you are right now, you’re probably a lot more sympathetic for your child’s teacher than you were last February.

If you’re not, you’re either unconscious or a complete jerk. Because holy crap. This virtual school thing is no joke. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect and, having no frame of reference, I imagined something like ABC Mouse. Just virtual education that my kids looked forward to, and into which I had to put very little energy.

That is not what virtual school is. Not even a little bit, you guys.

We picked up some workbooks and laptops and a hotspot from the district the week before school started. And then, we waited. I was hoping for some coursework to be uploaded to the website I’d been told to log them onto for four hours a day a bit ahead of time. I figured I could maybe make them a cute little calendar. Maybe a chart of some kind.

And then the first day of school happened. And I spent the next three days straight just trying to copy their calendar into my planner, and organizing worksheets, and making them checklists of things to do each day. Because I work full time.

Well, I did work full time. Until last week, when I reduced my hours from full time to part time. With the option of reducing them further, to part-part time if need be.

And I do believe the need will be.

I am not a teacher. I’m smart. I actually wanted to be a teacher. Of writing. At the college level.

Not of third grade math, social studies, and english.

Because third grade math is hard. And confusing. And I do not posses the ability to make my kids want to know it at all.

I may be rambling. I’m not really sure. Because I’m completely braindead from trying to remember the difference between a subject and a predicate. And how to interpret and solve a word problem.

I’m tired. I’m cranky. I’ve been a little nauseated, all of the time, since two Wednesdays ago.

I feel about as prepared for this virtual education experience as Billy Madison was. And less intelligent.

There was an excellent article in The Atlantic a few weeks ago about how the return to school post-pandemic could significantly reduce an entire generation of working parents to dust.

I don’t know what’s in store for us in the next few years. I’ve learned not to think farther ahead than a week or so, thanks to this unholy year of our lord. But I don’t feel like it’s going to involve me being able to work full time again anytime in the near future.

And I’m not sure how you’re all handling it, but if you wanna get your kids into a virtual school learning pod with mine, give me a call. Because I’m about to lose my mind and I need backup. Stat.

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