The New School Year

Everyone is already looking ahead to the new school year, anxious to get the kids back to school in a setting where they can see their friends again. Mostly, I’m just excited to have someone else fight with their child why school work is important, even if it’s going to kill them from boredom. My home OT sessions have gone similarly horrible. In fact, I would be lying if I said I was confident my children are going to go back to school next year and be able to keep up with their peers. My only real comfort is knowing that my kids aren’t the only one with the “worst teacher ever” right now.

If you’ve been on social media, you have seen everyone share those new guidelines from the CDC about opening up the schools. I definitely have. I read them. They seem insane, to say the least. Not that I don’t believe there should be some guidelines, but that I don’t believe they can accomplish what they want. Not in my school district, at least. 1 kid per seat on the bus and skipping rows? My oldest son’s bus has kids sitting 3 to a seat and that isn’t even enough for them. How is that going to work? Are we going to magically come up with more buses when we can barely afford to meet the needs of the teachers and students as is? What about expecting young children to keep a mask on all day? That’s not realistic at all. It’s not realistic. And aside from the mask policy, 90% of it probably won’t even be put into effect in most districts.

I get the point. I understand the point. I don’t believe in those conspiracy theories about fear mongering and how the flu kills more people just because your media told you that line once and you just believed it. Or because you heard it, wanted to verify it, then just ignored the 20 other articles that disprove this point and use that one article from the National Review to show that you’re right. You’re not right, if you read the actual science behind the numbers. Here’s a brief rundown, in case you’re interested: it all comes down to testing. Since the CDC can’t ensure that everyone who died of a flu-related complication was actually tested for the flu, they essentially estimate a number to what they think it is based on some algorithm that I probably wouldn’t even understand if I tried. I got this information from Live Science, then looked at several other articles that ended up sharing the same exact information. I could be wrong. I’m not unwilling to hear actual facts to prove me wrong. But, this is what my research has shown me. Even still, their estimate was around 62,000 people dying of the flu this year. Which is, for those who like math, is less than the over 90,000 people who died of the coronavirus-related complications.

What these 2 illnesses do have in common is that by taking the proper precautions, you can minimize your risk and the risk of others. I’m not saying don’t live your life. I’m just saying don’t be stupid. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

Back to the original point of the post: what about our kids? People around social media are in an uproar on the community forums. “I’ll just homeschool my kids.” I don’t know about anyone else, but I can barely keep up with my “I need money to survive” workload and the very, very, very basic remote learning things that I have to keep up with. If you’re already struggling with that, good freaking luck actually homeschooling your kids. You have to prove that you are competent by the school district’s standards to homeschool, have to essentially submit lesson plans/hours of instruction, and follow strict regulations based on your school district. You have to be in compliance with laws around homeschooling. Then, there are those other aspects of not having that socialization in the school environment and missing out on those activities they get to enjoy in school like goofing off on the bus during field trips or school dances. I’m not anti-homeschooling; I’m very much in approval of parents who do what they feel is right for their kids. What I do want to make people realize is that if you’re struggling now, homeschooling isn’t a viable option for you.

The thing is, this is just information based on what we know today. This is a new beast we are dealing with here. We might have better answers about it, more testing, and a vaccine by the time we send our kids back to school. No one really knows much about anything. But, what I do know is that I’m going to follow the people who are experts in science, specifically infectious diseases, to form my opinion. Not some hack job on the internet that is only spewing misinformation because for some reason people have an adverse-reaction to facts and misinformation can be very profitable. Keeping yourself educated with the latest, and I can’t stress this word enough, FACTS is really going to be the only way we get through this.

And We Start to Open Up Again

I don’t particularly care to debate whether or not opening up is 100% the right thing. Because honestly, it won’t ever be 100% the right thing until there’s better testing, tracking, and a vaccine. That’s just science. As someone who does get sick often and badly, I take a look at this in a more realistic way. Again, I know I could choose not to go out to stay safe and that’s my plan. I’m not living in fear. I’m living in protection. I’ve been bedridden by sinus infections before because they get so bad, imagine if I got this? My family understands that. My parents are in the high-risk category, so my kids haven’t gotten to hug or really see their grandparents aside from waving in the window. My husband wears his mask and takes as much precaution as he can to stay safe, but there’s no real guarantee that he won’t bring something home to us. That’s a risk that we’re supposed to be willing to take.

But just because they government is opening up the world, that doesn’t mean I’m going to participate. I watch the daily rises and falls in the numbers. Until they get to a much lower place, I’m staying home and no one is coming into my house. I honestly don’t care about anything except keeping my family safe, which includes taking the precautions I need to so that I don’t end up dead. Dramatic? Maybe. But I just want to make very clear that peer pressure doesn’t work on me and I’m not going to do something because crazies with a gun think I’m irrational and living in fear. If I’m the one living in fear, how come you’re the one with the gun?

I’ll probably lose friends along the way. I’ll piss off family members that already don’t agree with my decision. It’s not their decision to make. I’m not withholding my kids from anyone. People can call them, voice chat with them, but we already have such a short time on this earth. I’m not going to go out with tubes down my throat because someone thinks I’m trying to hurt their feelings. I’m not. I’m doing what I believe is the right thing and you’re not going to convince me otherwise unless you’re an experienced and highly educated medical professional. Because science.

If you choose to go out and let your kids run around in large masses, that’s what you think is the right move for the safety of your family. I won’t judge you for that. But I would appreciate not being judged for what I think is the safe and right thing to do for the safety of my family.

Using Gaming to Cope

Normally I would talk about the weekend of Overwatch League, then end in a rant about how poorly mismanaged my favorite team is, but I’ve opted against that this week. I would have ended up in a rant about how the Vancouver Titans obliterated their team, rounded together what T2 players they could in a short time, then spent the weekend bullying the Uprising while still losing their 2 matches this weekend. First of all, the Uprising get bullied enough. Joining in on that doesn’t make you the cool kid. Secondly, win a game, then you can talk.

The last time I left my house since everything happened was probably sometime in mid-April, when I helped my mom with something. Before that, was probably mid-March when I braved the stores early on to stock up on meats. I’m an introvert that doesn’t really enjoy going out too much. I like hanging out in smaller groups of my friends or family, but larger events can be overwhelming. In general, I like the fact that I can just stay home all day. But I do miss taking our family adventures to the park or doing something fun.

But I have video games. I’ve worked my butt off grinding hard in World of Warcraft, retail, leveling up as many toons as possible due to their XP boost that they are fortunately keeping until Shadowlands release. I’ve probably easily leveled 20 110 characters since the boost was released and I intend to keep going. That sounds insane to people, but it’s not to me. Not because I’m a gaming addict, but gaming does something to make you feel in control when there’s not much else you can control in the world right now.

I like that I can just put on music and mindlessly level away, without having to worry about how this pandemic has uprooted my life. I can talk to friends that I’ve made over the years playing as well as my “real” friends that also play WoW. It’s a connection to the outside world that even an introvert like me needs sometimes, when it just isn’t safe for me out there in the world. If I get sick, it’s because my husband brought it home with him by going to work or the store or other errands he has to take over because I can’t.

Gaming is the perfect escape in a world where everything seems so crazy. It has helped me stay more sane than if I didn’t have some sort of distraction to occupy my brain, which honestly isn’t a place anyone really wants to occupy. I can play WoW or Overwatch while working or sit on the couch relaxing with my boys while playing Animal Crossing, teaching my little one about the game. People who don’t game probably will never understand the incredible ability games have to offer social connections and distractions at a time when we need it the most. No matter what else is going on in the world, I still know what the outcome will be playing my video games.

In a few days, I may be picking up streaming again as I level a bunch of low level allied race toons in World of Warcraft. I’m interested in seeing how fast I can level them with the new XP boost, because I did level pretty quickly before that. I hope everything ends soon, but at least I know I have my video games to help me out.

Why the Mask Bro?

I’m pro the right to protest. Whether you agree with what people are protesting isn’t important. It’s our right as Americans to protest any injustice that we see, regardless if other people see it too. Do I agree with these recent protests about opening states up amid a pandemic where there is no vaccine, medicine, or adequate testing? Absolutely not. As someone with a terrible immune system, I’m not okay with that. But Brianne, that’s why you stay home and stay safe.

That’s kind of the problem though, isn’t it? My husband already still has to go out to work sometimes on anything he can’t handle remotely as a sys admin. He washes his hands and gets changed as soon as he enters the house, but that’s not a guarantee he won’t bring it in with him. If the state opens up without mask or safety restrictions, first of all we’ll end up dealing with a second outbreak and we aren’t even prepared for the first one yet. And he will be out of the house more often, increasing the risk of bringing it home with him. So it doesn’t matter if I stay home if no one else does.

That’s not the point. The point here is about the protests. Sure, going into state buildings fully loaded with guns without any repercussions for these in normal situations very illegal actions is a major jerk move. But peaceful protests, I’m all for. But my question is, if it’s safe enough to open states without any regulations, why wear a mask? Are you afraid that you are going to catch a deadly illness that you believe is a hoax meant to control the masses and isn’t any more deadly than the flu? Are you hedging your bets in case you’re wrong? Why are you wearing a mask if this isn’t really a big deal?

I’d really like the answer because you can’t have it both ways. If it’s not safe enough to protest in masses, maybe it isn’t safe enough to get back to normal. Maybe deep down you just want to be a lemming even if you don’t actually believe that this is a hoax. I’m not a scientist or health expert, so I’m not going to argue if it’s safe enough not. But the logical person that I am says it’s not a good idea until testing is more widespread or there is a vaccine to protect us. So, why the mask bro?

Do I think that if people play stupid games, they should win stupid prizes? Absolutely yes. However, in this case it’s not just their lives. It’s the lives of their families and kids and everyone else’s lives that are at stake. But, I mean, if they get it and bad things happen there’s a reason for Darwin Awards, right? Actions have consequences… so is that why you’re wearing a mask while protesting a virus that’s a hoax?

Upending the Lives of Children

My child thrives on routine. Due to his many difficulties, routine is something that is sacred to him. If things don’t go to an exact routine, his entire day is destroyed and that’s the reality of having a child like him. Even my older son prefers to stick to a routine and gets a little antsy if things don’t go according to plan. But he’s far more flexible when his routine is shaken up. This is probably one of the biggest challenges I have so far.

I do have as strict of a routine as I possibly can for him, while also managing my own work expectations. This is something a lot of parents are trying to manage right now: juggling their work commitments to their home commitments. That’s not a new concept; working parents have been struggling with this for a long time. The problem is now we are trying to do everything at the same time. Spoiler alert: We’re all failing at it. It’s okay to admit that. It’s okay to admit that my son has failed every science project that we’ve received because he doesn’t follow the instructions, such as “work with a parent”. I’m honestly not sure how his teachers manage to get him to listen. His teachers are saints and magicians all at once.

Their lives are, and I don’t mean to be dramatic here, ruined. They aren’t getting that social interaction with other children that they need to thrive. They don’t get to run around at the playgrounds. Seniors are missing their year-end events. Juniors are missing out on prep time for their things like college tours, college fairs, and exams. These are experiences that they aren’t going to get back. And that’s sad. My heart hurts for them. Just because I didn’t care about these events, doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the milestones. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel compassion for those students missing out on this. You only have your youth for so long and to have these major moments not be a part of them, that does make me feel bad for them.

That doesn’t mean there’s no reason for it. I keep seeing petitions about how people should be at risk to put these events on anyways. I agree about the importance of these events, but to put lives at risk for them? Until there’s testing made more available and a vaccine created, it’s never going to be safe out there. That’s science. There’s more evidence of the probability of reinfection than there is that there’s no risk of it. But this is so new that no one knows anything. If this were my kid, I wouldn’t be able to attend the ceremony because it was too risky for me, nor could my parents who have a very close relationship with my son. There are safe ways to do things and there’s being completely stupid.

Some places have setup schedules where an individual student can bring a couple of family members to see them do the walk and the students get that experience, even if they can’t share it with their friends. That’s a safe idea. That’s a good approach. That allows for social distancing, while giving the child that experience. It won’t be the same as the grand graduation ceremony students usually get, but it’s better than a Zoom graduation.

People are making rash decisions because they aren’t thinking logistically; they are thinking selfishly. Your want to do something doesn’t take over the reality of the situation. The reality of the situation is that there are over 50,000 people across the country who have died and that number doesn’t seem to be slowing down. I’d even be willing to bet that those places who have decided to say “eff it” and reopen are going to make those numbers jump even higher. Do I like it that I’m in charge of providing barely adequate education to my children? No. Does that mean I think the schools should open up just because I don’t want to deal with it? I’d rather have my children alive, I’m silly like that.

In a time when we should be growing closer together, helping each other, we are bickering like children. We are stubbornly following whatever our political affiliation wants to spoon-feed us and doing so blindly. This was a test to see if our country could unite to do the right thing and make the changes to become better, and I’m sad to say we failed.

As It Turns Out, I Would’ve Been a Terrible Teacher

I know it’s been a while. Adjusting to this new normal has been a bit crazy, but I’ve finally gotten into the swing of things again to get back to doing this. I’m hoping now I can get back to my usual schedule, but these are uncertain times so who really knows. I do promise that I’m going to try my best.

If you’re new the the blog, then you probably don’t know that I originally went to college to be a teacher. After some time in the field and doing some of the coursework, I definitely reconsidered that choice. The teachers at my college basically informed us that it was a thankless job that we’d probably fail at and that we were just glorified babysitters that get abused by parents and administration. A few of the teachers I observed seemed to be less than thrilled with their choice. I had such high hopes of having an impact on the lives of my students while sharing my passion for books and literary theory. I slowly realized maybe that wasn’t what I was meant for. So now you have me here as an adequate blogger/author. Yay you?

I often toy around with the idea of going back to school, just to do it and try. Why not? But then this new normal of remote learning with me trying to teach my kids happened. Then I realized, I would have made a terrible teacher. It definitely confirmed that elementary school wasn’t going to be my area of specialty. Especially when dealing with a child who has a 504 plan that I’m also supposed to be sticking to. Who has anxiety struggles, sensory struggles, and attention problems. My oldest one is fine. He mostly just does it all himself without asking questions, unless he’s come up with great question and wants to discuss and debate it. That I enjoy.

I would be that teacher that sneaks wine in a soda can during school. Or Bailey’s in my coffee. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m trying to manage my workload on top of playing teacher. Or if I’m just super stressed dealing with everything and wish I could just take them to the park to burn off energy, even though my youngest never runs out of energy. (I live in a house but my neighbors don’t seem to be practicing social distancing and I’m not risking it.)

This is new to all of us parents who don’t already homeschool. Trying to make sure that they keep up while trying to adjust based on their needs is a struggle, especially when you have your own work to do. Times are tough right now. You try to avoid the news so that you don’t get anxious and spread that to your kids. You try to make their lives as normal as possible when there’s nothing normal about this situation. They are scared and you have to suck it up to be their light in a tunnel that just seems to get darker every day. These are trying times. These are new times that many of us have never experienced before. But, I’m hopeful that once we get through this tunnel, we can make it through anything.