I have been one acquainted with the night

I slept on the couch last night. I wasn't mad at my husband. It wasn't because he snores (he does, but so do I). More and more, I find myself up at night. I go to bed at a reasonable time, and fall asleep fairly easily thanks to Tylenol PM, but then my eyes pop open in the wee hours and my brain says, "Game on." Last night it reminded me about an email I'd received earlier in the day. My daughter's social studies teacher sent me a missive to let me know that my child is failing the class. As if . . . as if I didn't know. I know he's just doing his job, but still, it stung. I responded and let him know that alas, I'm well aware. I check the parent portal a few times a day. It's all there in stark terms. 

Sometime after midnight, I started dwelling on that email and spiraled from there. Keep in mind that I get up at around 5 a.m. so anything after 11:00 seems late in my world. I didn't want to keep my husband up with my tossing and turning, so I took up residence on the couch. My cat thought about keeping me company but then attacked my hand when I somehow rubbed his fluffy belly incorrectly. I thought about my daughter's future, which feels very much in jeopardy now as a direct result of remote learning. I thought about dashed dreams, opportunities lost, and about how I wish I could go back just to being her mom and not the person who says, "DO YOUR HOMEWORK!" a thousand times a day. 

Last week, I was in Oklahoma, visiting family members. We stopped to get a bite to eat at a Qdoba. A bunch of boys from the local high school walked through, wearing their football jerseys. It was sort of jarring to see students enjoying a "normal" high school experience while my kid is at home, falling deeper into a hole filled with incomplete homework assignments and utter frustration. And yes, I know that COVID is devastating and that we are fortunate compared to what so many families have suffered. I just wish I knew how to cope with this better. Which part? All of it, I guess. 

I have suffered from anxiety for decades now, but 2020 seems to have sent me into a freefall. The new me plays Words with Friends at 2 a.m. in hopes of falling back to sleep. The new me is also that mom. The one who emails the district superintendent directly (he replied - super nice guy). I've also contacted my daughter's guidance counselor countless times. She's a very patient woman. 

To be clear, I know that this is no fun for teachers either. I haven't talked to a single teacher who doesn't want to be in the classroom, working one on one with students. Everyone is doing their absolute best. My beef is with the whole system. It's not working. That's why I've reached out to every teacher, the guidance counselor, the principal, and the district superintendent. No one can accuse me of being an uninvolved parent, that's for sure. Honestly, I would pull my daughter out of school altogether (and do what, I don't know) but that would also pull her out of the two classes she likes (advanced concert choir and ASL) and restrict her from doing show choir, which she also loves. 

Let me set the stage for you. First hour starts at 7:30. From there, she logs in and out of classes all day long. She doesn't get to see her friends between classes or at lunch or after school. For the kids doing distance learning in the age of COVID, it's all work and no play. In addition to being online all day, she has assignments, quizzes, and tests. There is an after-school resource center (a number she can call) but that's more for comprehension. Her issue is not comprehension but rather the volume of work. She tends to do well on tests, and I must confess that does lead me to wonder about the need for quite so many assignments. Despite being at her desk all day and doing as well as her ADHD brain will allow, she is failing her core classes. Before COVID, she was college-bound and had a respectable GPA (3.37). Now I'm not even convinced that she'll graduate with her class.  Could she work harder? Sure. Is there a better way for distance learning to be done? I feel certain that there must be. The responses I've received from the principal and district superintendent indicated that they are evaluating elements like screen time, etc. 

I am not an educator and don't have a lot of answers here. All I know is that my extroverted daughter, the one who always participated in class, is being crushed under the weight of remote learning. Hats off to my friends who were already doing homeschooling. I know it works great for so many kids . . . just not mine, I guess. (And yes, I've tried putting a positive spin on this "unique experience" but my kid is miserable regardless.) I also want to state clearly that I'm not asking for special consideration for my child (though I have pondered the merits of an IEP or 504 plan). I'm not asking for her to receive grades she hasn't earned. I'd love to see fewer assignments and a restructuring of screen time. This may be the year in which less ground gets covered as far as course material - and really, is that the worst thing? 

Until something changes, you can find me on the couch in the middle of the night, fighting with my cat and trying to make words with four i's and three e's. 

Since I "borrowed" Mr. Frost's words for my title, here are the rest of them: 

Acquainted with the Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rainand back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. 
I have been one acquainted with the night.



Deedeeree52 said…
So sorry sweetie. I am worried, too. I hope things get better. If she does fail, I think it will be devastating for all of us.
Lisa said…
I feel you! I see kids in other states going to school and I think, “yep, those kids are getting smarter right now, while my kids are falling behind.” I think it’s especially hard for families who work outside the home. Every day I pray I’ll get an email saying the school district is ready to open the classrooms again. Instead, I get emails saying that Keaton missed an assignment or Allie was late to a zoom meeting, and I get a guilt trip for not being there to make sure they do what they’re supposed to do. It’s a hard time for all of us— I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights too!

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