Back to School

Sunday night I sat on the deck crying like a baby feeling sorry for myself because I was convinced that Monday would be an epic learning disaster. Despite just returning from a week-long vacation, I’m stressed out of my mind and I’m taking the family down with me. The Rolodex of things to do keeps repeating.  I’m already behind at work, the schools are spamming us with last minute directions, schedule changes and I’m pretty sure someone is out of clean underwear and it’s probably me. While I’m relieved that school is starting, I’m dreading REMOTE LEARNING.


My pity party is ridiculous because we have it easy compared to just about everyone else. We are a tech savvy family with ample resources to bridge any learning gaps. We have dueling home offices because I was already a remote worker before this mess started. The hubby also has a dedicated office space. Why can’t I get my shit together? Um, it might be time to replace my magic HRT pellet embedded in my sweet cheek if you know what I mean. Yes, hormone replacement therapy is a god send. I’ll have to revisit that topic later.

Seriously, how can I be so utterly pathetic when I pride myself on being optimistic? I’m a sucker for all the clichés…the glass is half full, when life gives you lemons make lemonade, look for the silver lining. I’m always spewing some positive thinking mantra. Even the kids have started using my own material against me. Nothing like being shamed by your tween for not being grateful and counting your blessings. The teen takes an extreme shaming approach. “It’s not like you are being held in a terrorist camp in the middle east.” Yeah, I’ve got that going for me.

Back to the back to school. All my bluster, whining and crying was admittedly over the top. Monday started rather smoothly thanks to dad taking charge after watching me spiral the night before. He’s not just dad, but our IT Superhero. Zoom went down, so he was only able to attend two of his six classes. Day two started off rocky as well. Turns out using the pseudo-name PinkObesePickle wasn’t such a great idea as the teacher is scrolling through attendance. Our newly minted middle schooler was losing it as IT Superhero was deploying his wizardry to save the day before his name was called. I have no idea how he figured it out on the fly, while the kiddo was in full freak out mode. Dad points increase, while mine dip into the negative.

 Thankfully, the high schooler started a few days later. He’s the one we worry about. He’s as smart as he is lazy. We keep reminding ourselves that it’s just a phase and he has it where it counts.  We begged him to do a practice login and get a good night’s sleep because it’s video on for class. Of course, he had “plans,” so as expected it was a fire drill to get started.  There he sat, hoodie pulled tight around his face, over a hat with a giant blanket on his lap threatening that if we didn’t leave him alone, he wasn’t logging in.  Somehow, he was only 10 minutes late for his first class.

Just when I thought we were in the clear; he jumps up during the middle of his last class and says his friends have been in a car accident and he must go to the hospital. What?? Is this some elaborate ruse to ditch early? I tell him you can’t get into the hospital. Also, they must be fine if they are posting on social media. He shoots out of the house like a rocket and then gets mad at me for being unsupportive. He leaves the Zoom meeting open with the camera on.  I can hear the teacher call his name several times, while I’m texting him to come back which never happens. As class ends, I’m lingering outside camera view to note any homework assignments like some weirdo eavesdropper. After I’m sure all the students have left the meeting, I sit down, unmute and politely introduce myself. She was a good sport about my student’s abrupt departure, but little does she know it’s only the beginning.

Out the Window

The drive for teens to socialize has always led to stupid and risky behaviors, but the added layer of COVID has taken things to a new level of ridiculous. We’ve previously experienced the “out the basement window,” poorly hatched escape plans. Footprints on the windowsill, screens left off, pillowcases placed on the rocks like lily pads to protect feet and minimize noise. As it turns out, it was as much about smuggling kids into the house as escaping. The latest and most outrageous episode was leveled against the grandparents (Mimi and Muppy) who thankfully aren’t as naive as our teen assumed. Desperation comes to mind when my husband gets a midnight text, “dad I jumped out the window to hang out with friends, I’ll be back at 1:00,” followed by a phone call asking me to “talk to Muppy to tell him it’s okay that he’s coming home later.” Why does this never end? All we asked for was two frickin days, but OH NO he couldn’t make it more than 24 hours without testing the boundaries of common sense. I’ve got to give credit to the grandparents who sniffed out his plan. The first red flag was he actually arrived home on-time, then says he’s going to bed which was the second red flag. He proceeds to stuff a body-size pillow under the covers and climbs out the second story bedroom window to jump off the roof. Keeping in mind, this is days before a very important recruiting lacrosse tournament. WHY CAN’T WE EVER GET A BREAK? Of course, we tell him to get his ass home STAT and he does. I remind him this is your dad’s 50th birthday and all we wanted as a gift was for you to behave.  We go through the typical roller coaster of emotions starting with disbelief, moving quickly to white hot rage, then to some weird state of acceptance as we remind ourselves that teenagers are basically brain stems with zero ability to see beyond the moment. Then we settle on the realization that we are totally fucked for the foreseeable future.