Making the best of the Uninvited Enema of 2020: Virtual Learning
By: Ivana Segvic-Boudreaux
The 2020 school year came in like an enema—a deep cleanse, but in reverse. All things ordinary—socializing, friendships, relationships with teachers, in-person learning, lunches, gym, band—became unusual and were cleansed out of our lives.
In our family, we chose to set up a “classroom” in the kitchen. They have a view of the woods, a bird feeder and are next to one another to have a “school-like” feel.
There I am in the background, in the same shirt I was wearing yesterday. There I am, clenching my coffee cup as if it were the last cup of coffee on earth. There I am, passing in the background. There I am, leaning over one of the girls trying to help with computer issues.
I look tired, pale, frustrated. I don’t recognize the grumpy-looking woman on camera looking back at me. Creases seem to accentuate my face, especially the two lines in between my brows that always seem to be present. Dark circles give me a racoonish look, without the cuteness factor. I try to help; I can’t. One app or the other isn’t working. Our Wi-Fi is overloaded. There’s the kitten in one of the girls’ laps, purring. The dog is lapping up water. The refrigerator hums in the background, drops ice into a bin, making it sound like it fell from 10 feet above. I’m washing dishes. Too much noise. Oops. I’m in the background again. I just disciplined the kitten, not realizing I was on camera. Will someone call animal control on me?
The app won’t allow us to blur the ongoing regularities of life.
My husband walks in trying to make us laugh. He’s sweaty from working outside, and like Jack Tripper, has two balls in his shirt—the pretend breasts—as he sticks out his chest and starts to waltz into our “classroom.” “Shhhhh! Go away. You’re on camera with the teachers!!!!” He sneaks out. Of course, the sessions are being recorded.
This is the life of online school today. We turn kitchens, dining rooms and living rooms into makeshift offices or classrooms. Our home life is on display. As social media penetrated our lives, so has the online classroom in the world of COVID-19. We work from home, school from home, live from home.
We were thrown into this unfamiliar, secluded and removed world. Negativity, complaints, self-pity and self-absorption seemed to set the stage.
But as a friend told me when I was on bed rest for most of my pregnancy years ago: “Enjoy it while you can; you’ll miss it once it’s gone.”
Here I am, having lunch with my kids every day.
Here I am, getting in midday snuggles with my baby while she’s on a “brain break.”
Here I am, hearing about their day in real-time as they share their joys, embarrassments, laughs, newly-learned facts.
Here I am, being able to help my daughter with a computer problem so she doesn’t have to distract the teacher from the rest of the class.
Here I am, seeing my three beauties expanding their intelligence each day as they learn before my eyes.
Here I am, watching my daughters comforted by their new little kitten, or Charlie, our food-loving Beagle, when the stress of a day’s work sneaks in.
Here I am, laughing with my girls over the silly things they do.
Here…. I…. Am. Present and a part of their every day, more than ever before.
They seem to grow up in milliseconds, not years. But now I can see it a bit more clearly; I can actually slow the time down.
As this Coronavirus-enema of a year continues to detox us from all things we have taken for granted, perhaps we can see some of the actual benefits we have received from its unwanted insertion in our lives. Perhaps, we can be thankful for slowing down the aperture of the lens and recording life a bit more leisurely, unhurriedly and in true-tone. Perhaps, as Helen Keller said, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.”
I see the sunshine. Do you?