Man, am I ever glad I learned Algebra. Said no one, ever.

My youngest, Kid C, is sitting at the island in our kitchen. She’s already gotten so frustrated, she’s left the table, made food, and come back. She’s using a stress ball right now. I’ve tried to talk her down. I’ve learned it best to let her figure out how to handle this by herself for the time being. I’ll intervene if she whips something across the room. (I’m kidding, she’s just stressed.) And why? Because of trying to learn at home. And not even her full-time home. Her Kingston home she hasn’t been to since December, because in a normal world. I’d be visiting her in Kitchener until summer when she’d make her way back here for a vacation.

She’s supposed to be graduating Grade 8 this year. She thinks back and looks at the photos of Kids A & B who had incredible Grade 8 Graduations. In the dress Mom bought for her oldest sister. In the suit and suspenders Mom bought for her brother. She thinks about seeing her sister with her make up done, and her hair did, and the jewelry she was blinged out in. And she’s frustrated, because she’s trying to do eighth grade algebra off an iPad at a kitchen island in a town four hours from school. And she’s sad grad is postponed. She’d been looking forward to it all year.

While Ontario collectively holds its breath waiting for the Education Minister to make further announcements as per the schooling of our kids, the experts, with their contradicting messages, continue to circulate on Facebook. In newsfeeds. In newsletters. Some teachers are saying: don’t stress out! It’s a pandemic! They’re struggling to keep their anxiety in tow, don’t dump major assignments in their lap and expect them to be successful! And yet, here’s Kid C feeling anxious and stressed out in front of work that’s been assigned to her to keep her sharp. She, subconsciously, longs so deeply for the routine of school she can’t even see that she’s desperately clinging to normal in her very young 13-year-old way.

And how do I help her? I’m not a teacher. And not just “for a good reason”. I’m not a teacher, period. I’m a radio announcer. My partner is a pizza maker, and before that, a print journalist. We’re not trained to be teachers. There’s a reason teachers spend decades honing their craft. They were cut out for meltdowns, misunderstood concepts; the patience of a teacher stretches far beyond anything I can conceivably construct in my mind. They are saints.

So this is what I’m doing. I’m taking it at her pace. She’s smart. She’s academically inclined. She’s also scared, and afraid of the world right now. And pissed off. These are all valid feelings.

Have you ever tried reasoning with a teenager? Some days it’s like majestically running with unicorns. Other days, it’s like handing a baton to a porcupine/snapping turtle love child with a thirst for blood.

End of the day, I’m not a teacher. I’m a full-time working Mama, with a full-time working partner, and we’re going to do the best we can with the resources we have offered to us in the environment we’ve got available. And we’ll hope to hell it’s enough.

Besides. Isn’t that all any of us has got right now?

— c ☆

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