Something stinks

Pause for a minute and take stock: we’re 14 months into a global pandemic. While my birth country, the US, has decided the pandemic is largely over, my current home, Canada, has taken a more cautious approach: here in Ontario we are under “stay at home” orders. After weeks of socializing almost exclusively with our immediate family, we have all become slightly feral. The stay at home orders end on June 2, and while many are rejoicing at the small freedoms we will begin to re-experience, teachers, students and parents are still biting our nails. In its infinite wisdom, the provincial government has neglected to decide if the re-opening of the province also means the re-opening of schools. They are, apparently, thinking about it. Nevermind that the re-opening is happening on Thursday. They will come to a decision when they are good and ready.

At any rate, it’s not like they can make this school year any more convoluted than it already has been. Not only have we been teaching in hybrid “quadmesters” (the word “quarters” just doesn’t capture the essence of this school year – and some schools have “octomesters”), but also no two quadmesters have unfolded in the same way: we’ve had fully hybrid, hybrid until the last month, fully virtual…. Quad 4 has been entirely virtual up until now, but with three weeks left in the year we may be randomly shifted back to in-person hybrid. Or maybe not. No one knows. It’s a mystery.

All of this may explain Saturday morning. I was sitting in the kitchen playing a word game when something outside caught my eye. There, just beyond the sliding glass door, a skunk was destroying my hostas.

I. was. livid.

I didn’t even pause. I jumped up, ran to the door, and flung it open. I tore onto the back porch, clad in my fuzzy pink bathrobe and old sneakers, unwashed, hair unkempt, and cried out with all the fury of a teacher nearly at the end of a school year, nearly at the end of a pandemic, nearly at the end of her rope: “DON’T YOU DARE!” I shook my fist. “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!”

The shocked skunk looked up from its meal.

“YOU LEAVE THOSE HOSTAS ALONE! THAT’S ENOUGH!”

She stared at me. I stared at her. I gradually began to realize that my actions might have been, well, rash. There I stood, a slightly crazed, decidedly disheveled, middle-aged school teacher in a pink bathrobe yelling across the lawn at a rodent on a Saturday morning. Still, we stared. Then she turned around.

Well, let me tell you, I took one look at that skunk’s butt and ran back inside. Behind the safety of the sliding glass door, I seethed. Our cat, Hera, joined me. Together, we glared.

The skunk, clearly worried that the humans of *this* house might be rabid, delicately picked her way out of the yard and left.

The lesson? Do not mess with a tired teacher at the end of an exhausting school year during a global pandemic. The teacher will win.

a trail of half-eaten hostas

Home again, home again #SOL21 4/31

I woke up with a tiny bit of a sore throat and a foggy sort of headache. I hadn’t slept particularly well (possibly because I literally dreamed up a really great assessment for next week – it’s going to be excellent!), so I was sure that everything would be better after a cup of tea and a shower.

Downstairs, I turned on the kettle and fed the cats. While I waited for the water to boil, I closed my eyes and put my head on the cool kitchen counter. I was tired. Once the water was hot, I tried to bustle around the kitchen, getting the morning set up, but my bustle was more of a shuffle. Time for that tea.

By the time the rest of the family was in the kitchen, I knew the truth: “I have a tiny sore throat and I’m a little tired.” Meaningful glances ricocheted around the table. The messages were clear if cacophonous You need to get a test – you’re not allowed go to work if you have even one symptom – she’s not going work – hey, that means we can’t go to school – oh no, we can’t go to school – oh no, now they are ALL going to be home while I try to work. Only my partner spoke, “You need to schedule a test.” Which means we would all need to stay home. This was not how I had envisioned my day. I groaned, but I knew he was right.

While I made an appointment – plenty were available – the ten year old slithered out of the kitchen and slyly installed himself in front of the computer, volume turned down. “I’m checking my Google classroom,” he said when I found him, “but there’s nothing for me to do.” A pathetic attempt to justify Minecraft at 9am; I found several unfinished assignments to keep him busy. The twelve year old, already dressed and ready to go, texted his walking buddy to say he was staying home, opened his laptop, and pulled up a project. “I’ll go ahead and finish that slide show I’ve been working on.” My partner checked on everyone then went to work in what was the guest bedroom but is now his office.

And me? Well, I got a covid test with no waiting – and realized that I haven’t been tested since early November, which means I haven’t felt sick at all since then, so I’m trying to feel lucky. If I can’t muster up “lucky” I can at least fall back on “fine.” I’m giving it a 99% chance that the test comes back negative, hopefully in time to send both kids to school tomorrow, but this is what it means to be part of keeping the community safe. (Update: negative & the kids are off to school.)

355 days. It’s been 355 days of watching for symptoms, of staying distant, of reminding each other of what it means to work together. I’m tired – and it’s not just from a poor night’s sleep. I really hope that my next visit will be for the vaccine. Until then, I’m hoping for lots of early bedtimes and lessons that plan themselves when I’m not trying to sleep.

Thanks to https://twowritingteachers.org for hosting this annual challenge

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