Adjusting To Normalcy

Across the world children are heading back to school although what they knew to be a scholastic experience has changed quite a bit. In some places they have kids attending school a few days a week. In others it’s for a few hours whereas in many places in Europe it’s been business as usual for good long while. The word ‘bubble’ has changed the meaning it used to hold and it looks like the connotation is going to be with us for a while longer.

While most Indian states grapple with the notion of reopening the schools and when to do so, the ones which have already started off the process find that the adjustment to campus life isn’t a cakewalk; neither for the school, the parents and of course the children themselves. With schools that are offering the hybrid model of attending classes, it’s a stretch with allocating their teaching resources to cover both in-person and online classes for the same grades and do it without dropping the ball on the quality of education.

For the rest of us the raging debate of should kids go back to school without the benefit of the vaccine to will the third wave actually hit sometime soon; it is an ongoing balancing act to decide about resending the children to an environment which is more fun for them for sure, but is also less protected than the one they have become used to for the past 2 academic years. And while attending classes in pyjamas isn’t an addiction that can’t be dealt with, the entire discipline that surrounds the whole process of schooling is something that kids will still take time reacclimatising to.

From getting up at least an hour earlier than before to riding the bus and standing in the lunch queue to not being able to get up and stretch one’s legs in between classes or have parents pop-in for that quick look-in to check if the child needs anything, it’s a big change to get used to.

I was away from home while TO rejoined in-person school and Red messaged me saying the house seemed really quiet and empty without him there. Although there was a regular amount of strict parenting going throughout the day while he was attending online classes, there was something comforting about seeing him hunched over the laptop while I went about my day.

While I’m not seeing my child struggle with his disenchantment for online lessons any further I am also dealing with a regular worry of either him or his peers coming down with coughs and colds which could potentially turn into something more serious. And while this worry isn’t debilitating, it’s not something am able to shake off either. His environment was so well-regulated for so long and under the supervision of two adults who had no greater goal than to keep him safe; relinquishing his safety to others who are miles away is something I struggle with.

What makes it easier is seeing him head out the door without the heavy zombie steps he used to take towards his laptop at the start of every school day while at home. He comes back happier too and while I shake my head that the kind of stains he inevitably gets on the pristine whites of his school uniform, it’s this kind of normalcy that I had also missed right from the middle of March 2020.

Whether the pandemic is entering into an endemic stage, whether the third wave is nothing more than just a slight blip, whether the vaccine for children is genuinely going to help keep them safe; as a parent our worry never ends. It eases a bit when you check in on them while they’re fast asleep or when you see them eat their fill, play their hearts out with their friends.

And I sincerely hope that’s where the world is slowly heading back to; parenting shoving their kids out the door while they’re still putting their shoes on and the school bus is about to pull away from the curb or the chidings about leaving assignments till the last minute. Am mighty sick of face masks, sanitisers and social distancing. It’s not the kind of parenting any of us want to do. We all want to tell us our kids off for the good ol’ reasons that have been handed down to us over the generations.

Amen!

Lockdown Day#1

While a lockdown hits hard at every aspect of our lives, today am far more upbeat than I have been in a long time! The reason is simple. My kid’s online classes are coming to an end for 2 months. And Red and I will finally get back to being human parents rather than the human-sheepdog hybrid we’ve been since the start of the entire phase of online learning.

In all honesty it was me who was woofing more than Red. He was busy on calls and would be on perpetual red alert to firefight when mother and son had their standoffs.

Our days would start out nicely enough- hugs and kisses and then the tide would turn to a small human being dragged out of bed on some days and on other days his rapidly-descending-into madness mommy would threaten to pour water on him or worse- discontinue the Netflix subscription!!

And then my erstwhile cherub and the sound of my life would transform into a modern day Gollum, complete with the hissing and glazed eyes while thinking of his precious.

But all snark aside, I have realised, all over again, that it is NOT easy to manage kids. Whether you do it out of love or get remunerated for it. I have a deep reverence for the teachers who have been tasked with teaching during these times. Dealing with different personalities, comprehension levels et al on a regular basis is a task by itself but add sullen faces, innate shyness, wonky internet connections and the sounds of a busy household in the background and teaching becomes something akin to an obstacle course. And landing on your feet isn’t guaranteed at all!

But I am looking forward to more peace. My throat is *eagerly* looking forward to not hitting the high decibels. Red’s ears are extremely eagerly awaiting the time when noise-cancelling headphones won’t be a part of our daily diet. And I guess TO is just waiting for a time when his mother isn’t giving him this look a 100xs a day.

Be as that may, I love my kid and I wanted to celebrate the last day of school in a manner befitting his happiness. So his favourite aunty is making him luscious chocolate cupcakes which will be snarfed down in a manner befitting a starving child rather than a well-fed one. And while I gaze upon the flesh of my flesh with love and adoration in my eyes, I will take immense joy in knowing the cupcakes are chock full of zucchini!

Take that you fussy eater who tries to convince me of all people that he has food allergies which is why fruits, nuts and many veggies can’t land up on his plate.

A Day In The Life Of A S.A.H.M

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Being a stay at home mom is a different kettle of fish. If kettles full of fish aren’t your thing, feel free to put in a vegetarian or a vegan option if that rings your bell.

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I am, for the most part, a Stay At Home Mom. It was a decision that I made pretty willingly. Things also didn’t align in such a manner that I felt confident or comfortable enough to leave TO with any other caregiver or in a creche or daycare and hie off to work.

When the hieing off did happen, the universe conspired to have me be more grounded (the parents grounding the kids kind and not the being practical-kinds) and ultimately I circled back to home and hearth and kept my activities centered around it. The work too is something I’ve been doing while lounging in my pjs so WFH is not only a familiar concept but it’s been a way of life.

Recently TO headed back to school. It was something he was longing for. Me…not so much. I figured if he gets to ride out one whole school year at home and then starts fresh for the new academic year in school, it might be an easier transition but again, universe and child conspired to do things differently so Red and I opted for in-person schooling for TO with some riders in place wrt his and our continued safety.

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And believe you me, within 2 days of school starting, the whining started too. Not that it ever ended properly; some of us are born whiners and continue to whine till Doomsday hits and even then, we go whining into the Great Unknown.

Barring the first two days of school where the former lump jumped out of bed, brushed, bathed and tackled his morning routine with alacrity, we were back to the “pleasantness” of an early morning routine where the mother dons on the persona of the Wicked Witch of the West and drags an innocent Dorothy, I mean TO, out from the warm comforts of his covers and into the cold, hard, unforgiving world of sunshine, cold bathroom tiles and mandated personal hygiene. I mean what could be worse?! Plenty as my kid puts it…

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Imagine having to bathe every day, like clockwork, before leaving the house. Because unlike over Google Meets, here people can actually smell you. And the fact that they *can* smell you is a cause for concern.

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Imagine having to comb your hair because again, unlike over Google Meets, they can actually see the birds nest you’re lovingly cultivating in that mess on top of your head!

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And the list goes on. Needing clean underwear because going commando is no longer an option or that grunting as a response will no longer be acceptable while answering the roll call…the world is full of a minefield for a kid heading back to school. And the worst of it is probably the uniforms that are collared, starched and make little hoodlums look presentable and not like they got dressed in the dark while suffering from color blindness in the process.

Today the brat got to take a day off from school to participate in a sporting event. I dropped him and his teammates to a location a bit far from home and was navigating my way back with the help of Google Maps when I realised that Ms.Google Maps Voice has a bit of an attitude. She’ll start with a nice even tone when saying “Take the next right” and if that right isn’t taken within a second of the words leaving her automated voice box, the next time she speaks to you it’s with the subtext of “take the right turn already you moron!”

Never a dull moment- that’s the crux of a S.A.H.M’s day!

Takes A Bloomin’ Continent

A lot has been written about the people in the frontlines of this pandemic. As it should be. They literally are the first line of defence and often end up in hazardous situations themselves in the process of trying to cure or keep the populace safe.

But I don’t think enough has been written about the people who’re trying to make sure the little monkeys we brought into this world, remain educated, remain interested in education and actually learn something during these times where the only certainty is that it’s all still very uncertain!

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Case in point: a teacher spends a good amount of time explaining things in fairly minute detail to middle schoolers and then asks if there are any questions. These are the inputs which come in from the kids-

  • Student#1 Ma’am you didn’t mark me present.
  • Student#2 Ma’am we have only 3 minutes left for the class to end.
  • Student#3 Ma’am can I go to the washroom.
  • Student#4 Ma’am you said XYZ’s name wrong…
  • Student#5 *umm…hmmm…erm*
  • Student#6 yawns loudly
  • Student#7 *humms*
  • Student#8 Ma’am it’s time, can we leave?

Teacher: sighs DEEPLY and says, “Ok children, anyone have any questions about what we’re discussing right now? For the things which were due 2 days ago? Any questions at all?” There’s pin drop silence. You can hear the clock tick, the birds chirp outside and the leaves of the tree rustle softly. Teache: No one? Nothing to ask?…sighs DEEPLY once more and says, “Ok children, you can leave the meeting.”

Students as ONE: BYEEEE MA’AAAAM!!!

It may have taken a village in the past to raise a child, but it takes waaay more to teach one!

To the teachers- we salute you!

My Week Till Now…

This week signals one month since TO’s school started again…online albeit. And it’s been oh so interesting.

I feel for the teachers, I really do. While the children have my sympathies since this is hardly the most optimum way of doing things, the teachers have to manage home and hearth plus keep an eye on the kids, critique their work and pretend their heads are not likely to explode from all the chatter and noise from the classes.

You have your ‘first benchers‘ and ‘back benchers‘ for online classes as well. The former are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed all day long and the latter are a mix who have multiple tabs open for games, surfing the internet, daydreaming or annoying their mothers for food.

There are also kids who spend nearly the entire duration saying “Ma’am ma’am ma’am” followed by one of these litanies or just saying Ma’am because they just seem to like the sound of the word quite a bit:

  • my internet isn’t working
  • my camera isn’t working
  • your audio isn’t working
  • I can’t see you
  • what are we supposed to do
  • I have to go to the bathroom
  • where are we supposed to submit the work?

Never underestimate the extent of hunger and sleep a child can experience till they have a class they need to get to or an assignment whose deadline’s passed. Anyhow, that’s all there is about the classes. Then there’s the near constant rain that’s putting a frown on TO’s face. Because that means that he can’t go out and cycle or play cricket.

Last night before going to bed he looked out the window and say that it was STILL raining and would probably rain all night long as well, rendering the cricket pitch a soggy mess for the next day and this ensued- a small enraged human stomping around saying, ” Oh F-word, F-word, F-word, F-word….ughhh F-WORDDDD!! Red looked at me with the censure that’s ever-present whenever TO drops an unsanctioned word. I shrugged and said, “at least he self-censored”.

Speaking of F-words and others which aren’t sanctioned in “polite” company, I end up dropping a bushel’s worth whenever I’m in my online fitness class. Fitness and I are age-old enemies. I nurture the flab and life keeps putting me in Fitness’s way for a series of activities which makes me feel like my body is turning into a pretzel and not in a good way.

I’ve noticed something though; every activity that has an animal’s name associated with it, barring the Cobra, makes me feel like the world as we know it, is about to end with me exploding in a burst of guts without the glory. You also get weird thoughts in your head like, “Burpees have nothing to do with burps at all!!

Be as that may, it’s a good way to get your blood pumping but at the end of everything you wish for a personal masseuse and a sauna with no husband and child around who look at you to provide food, read to them or cuddle while you are a puddle of sweat and bad muscle tone. NAMASTE

Kids With Gadgets- A Closer Look

While TO waits for the laptop to power up, his class links to get posted and before he graces his teachers and classmates with his beatific countenance, he does this:

Of Nostalgia and Nosebleeds

Yesterday TO just semi-yelled out, “Oh darnit!” and I peeked out of the kitchen to see that the child had a nosebleed out of the blue! Since we are partial to him retaining his blood inside his body, Red and I rushed to see what the reason was.

The child in question wasn’t terribly worried barring the fact that his chunky mother hovering in front of his face was blocking his view of his laptop and wouldn’t you know it, that’s the time he’d decided that his online classes just couldn’t wait!! Never mind the other times when I’m dragging him out of bed so he can join his classes on time and not be a mini-zombie.

Anyhoo, after the usual “keep your head tilted, clean your nose out, stick this cotton up there, take this icepack” maneuvers, the flesh and blood pronounced himself to be nosebleed-free and fit as a fiddle. That is until I asked him to do some chores while there was a gap in his classes. Suddenly those few drops lost came to haunt him and he felt that he must sit down in an AC-cooled room and  get his strength back a little bit.

Am grinning today while I type this out but trust me, I was anything but jovial yesterday. I’d called my mother in a hurry because I was prone to nosebleeds as a child although under slightly different circumstances and she lingered along Nostalgia Lane for a bit till I rushed her to the point where I had a possible solution in place. But the trip back to the #thetimesthatwere made me look back at things at a different time and place all day long. Maybe I needed a break from chores too, maybe it was from my family or maybe I wanted someone to dunk my feet in bubbling water that had Epsom salt, scented oils while I sat in a chair massager…oh baby!! Wait! What was I saying again?

My brief segue into salon porn aside, I was BADLY nostalgic yesterday. Am nostalgic at the drop of a pin most of the times and this staying inside is bringing out the #throwback vibes emos even more.

Speaking of emos and doing chores around the house, see how an adorable 5 year-old used to help his mother while getting into potentially dangerous situations (what can I say, I have a boy!)-have a looksee here!

For the uninitiated, I am a mother who is TERRIBLY fond of her child, the way he was. I am still getting used to who he is now and while the fondness remains, we may be reaching a GoT-kind of situation where vengeance and clashing swords could very well become the order of the day! Hey, the kid’s got the dragons part down pat, what did you expect?

More nostalgia posts to follow. For now, the Mother of the Dragon 2.0 has to rouse the sleeping cub and get him off to his “meetings”. Ah, the sweet life!

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Image courtesy: DeviantArt