I’m thrilled to have an essay up at Salon today. For all the families who suddenly find themselves home with their kids.
I keep seeing them on social media: The “school schedules” written on kitchen whiteboards, shared proudly by parents newly tasked with home-schooling in the face of a pandemic. Those whiteboards make my heart sink — they sent me straight back 22 years.
My oldest was five. We were just starting out as home-schoolers. I wrote out detailed lesson plans, as I’d done in my four years as an elementary school teacher. Henry loved my plan for building a house from a refrigerator box; he spent hours on it. Studying a diagram in a book, he managed to make a door handle from a thread spool. It had a cardboard latch that locked when he turned it.
The rest of my plans didn’t thrill him. When I asked him to fill in a graph at the kitchen table, he slumped and grunted. I was his mother, not his teacher, and he didn’t care about pleasing me. He liked hearing “This is the House that Jack Built,” but when I suggested we write our own version of the story—a classic literary exercise in 1990s classrooms—he kept painting the door of his cardboard house.
“That’s dumb,” he said. “Somebody already did it.”
Please consider sharing if you know someone it might help. xo.