The Pandemic Experience


It has been almost a year since I last posted here. Much has happened but little of interest to anyone living outside this house.  I wonder when people ask what we’ve been doing, how well they know us. The lives in this little home run to the very ordinary, school and work, home and sleep, repeat. In the past year, the most exciting bits revolved around my oldest child moving to Phoenix AZ to attend Culinary School. It was an enjoyable experience for him. The pandemic occurred just as his classes ended, and after waiting around for six weeks to try and get an externship, he decided to move back home and take a chance on getting a job here. I wasn’t convinced on May 13th that his chances were better here, but I kept my mouth shut because I wanted to see him, wanted him closer during this pandemic. It turned out to be perfect timing. A beautiful new restaurant on the river was just opening, and they hired him at his interview. He’s been able to move into an apartment with some friends from high school, has been working sixty-plus hours a week as the restaurant struggles to fill all the positions, and is happily piling up money for a down payment on a newer car.

As for me, I learned quite a bit about myself and my family in the last few months.

Under our brand spanking new Superintendent of Schools, our district announced its shut down on March 15th. He’d been in office for just over one year; he was the principal that had hired me and whom I worked for seven years. He was born to lead the schools through this mess; I am sure of that.

Admittedly, on March 16th, I was downright giddy, so happy to be sent to my room, so to speak. Though I continued teaching through the end of the school year, working from home was enlightening. I am proud of how quickly our Special Ed Department got a plan in place and started building student specific lesson plans to be included on classroom learning boards.  By March 30th, we were up and running. Digital assignments, one on one google meets, lots of research, hours spent finding just the right BrainPop video or educational game to go with each subject, copying and cutting, making games and activities to help keep them occupied at home. I had no trouble filling my usual school hours plus some during my time at home. Without the usual distractions of recess supervising, lunch supervising, handling emotional outbursts, I found I could really dig in and research and find incredible content personally suited for each of my kiddos.

The time spent at home also taught me much about myself. It was time,  and at the end of the school year, I gave my notice over one of the final Google meetings with superiors. It was less painful than I imagined it would be, just as the pandemic was more healing than I could ever have anticipated.

Due to our small size and seclusion, the little disasters the pandemic wreaked in larger cities mostly missed us. We stayed home and watched the slow unraveling of larger metropolises with concern and disbelief. Turns out our little gang here are rockstar quarantiners. We got along well together, played many card and board games, and kept to ourselves with little anxiety. We discovered one daughter excelled in working at home with the freedom of going her own pace. The other struggled without the frame of getting up, going to school, attending class, and working with teachers and friends. As a result, I will be homeschooling again this fall, the first time in over ten years. One happily home and already working at her own pace and one delightedly returning to teachers and friends at the end of the month. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to some trepidation in one returning to school. However, she’ll be supplied with masks and all the necessities and will find herself showering every day after school. I’m sure we’ll be fine.

Not for the first time, I’ll admit, I’m pleased to be living in North Dakota.