It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

Happy Wednesday!

We all make mistakes, and it’s okay to make the wrong decision.

We all do it. We make mistakes, we do the wrong thing, we wish we could change our minds. The great news, thankfully, is that most situations allow us to do just that; change our minds. We did it, and we will do it over and over again for the rest of our lives. We made a wrong decision, but we are not beating ourselves up about it. Not to say I didn’t have a small moment of definitely feeling like I failed, but my husband quickly reminded me that I did no such thing.

I did what I thought was right in the moment, and it just didn’t work out.

I chose virtual learning for our three youngest kids. Our oldest daughter decided she wanted to go back to school. She’s in seventh grade this year, and we agreed that going back was something she should do if she wanted it. We also agreed we didn’t want to deal with the hassle of going back to brick and mortar with the little three.

We had valid reasons when we made this decision.

  1. We wanted some control over our schedule.
  2. We did not want to deal with the potential disruption.
  3. We didn’t to send our kids to a place they’d end up resenting because of all the restrictions.
  4. We simply didn’t have enough information to make a different decision at the time.

We are now four weeks into our fourth grader and our two first grader’s virtual learning platform. Our district followed suit with the state virtual program to create a district virtual program, and it’s just too much.

There, I said it.

It’s too much.

It’s too much, and our kids have two amazing teachers. They’ve made it easy on us and our kids to understand what’s expected, what is due, how things work, and they are having fun in their virtual classes. It’s not because their teachers are anything short of stellar; it’s that the curriculum they are being forced to use is just too much.

My husband and I are not educators. We are not teachers. We don’t work for a school. We don’t know what goes into this and how this works, but we know that our kids are getting nothing from the two of us, and we are the ones who are sitting down with them outside of their daily zoom meetings helping them understand what they learned and how it works, and they are getting nothing. We are not educators. We don’t know how to teach them things.

Additionally, we’re spending hours every single day working on their work with them. Hours. We don’t have that kind of time. We didn’t realize this would be such an invasive learning situation for us – and we work. Sure, we both work from home (and always have, this is not pandemic related) and we are here. But I have deadlines each day that I need to meet. Yes, I work for myself. No, I can’t just forgo my work and my deadlines to teach the kids. My husband is an engineer. He has office hours to keep. We can’t sit down with the kids for 3, 4, 5, 6 hours a day and help them with their work.

We love being involved in their education. We throw out sight card flashcards with the twins at night. We help them read books at night. We read to them, with them, and help them read to us. We travel and we learn and we let them ask questions and we do our best to give them the correct answers. But, this program is not for people who have jobs or other kids or anything else going on.

For example, we have 6-year-old twins. Charlotte reads very well. Carter doesn’t sit still long enough to focus on a book or words or reading – he has ninja skills to practice, a yard to explore, and he’s obsessed with the weather. He might not be the best reader, but ask this kid how a tornado is formed or to tell you how hurricanes gain their power or what the pressure means or how many MPH each category storm needs to be classified that category. He can tell you in a second flat. But, he cannot read the assignments or the test questions himself. And, it takes Charlotte a looooong time to read many of the test questions, stories, and assignments.

This means I spend hours every day doing it for them and asking them to listen. Then I have to read the choices for their answers – and what’s even more fun is that when their assignments are being done, they are not the same! That’s right, they have different questions and different answer choices on their quizzes and tests, and I literally cannot sit down with them together and kill two birds with one stone. It’s 5-6 hours per day of work with them. It’s not feasible.

Add fourth grade virtual work to the mix. It’s too much for us. The kids like their teachers. The work isn’t hard – but it’s exceptionally time-consuming. It’s not meant for small kids, and that’s what we have.

They also cry almost every day. They want to go back to school. They want normal.

I’ve never felt like as much of a failure in my life as I have the past few weeks trying to work with them and realizing that they’re going to end up so far behind their peers if they don’t get back to a classroom – and that will be my fault. My fault because I don’t know how to teach them. My fault because I thought this was the best decision. For some, this is the best decision. For us, it’s not.

Honestly, we really thought that school would be cancelled or that they’d be sent home every week or two for two weeks of quarantine. We didn’t want to deal with the constant disruption of their schedules – or ours – because they are so little and schedules are so important. It’s hard. Managing these schedules for these kids along with their extracurricular activities, our travels, our own schedules, clients, and our work…it’s too much for us. Craig and I cannot do this. We cannot be virtual school parents to small kids who need so much help. It’s a disservice to them to learn so little because we simply cannot teach them.

I spent some time last week feeling like a failure because of this. I threw myself a pity party. I cried. A lot. But, at the end of the day, my husband did what he does best. He put his arms around me, reminded me this was a joint decision and that neither of us have failed our kids. We used what little information we had and made the decision that worked best at the time – and it didn’t work. He reminded me that I’m an amazing mom, and we have four amazing kids, and that they’re smart and resilient and fun and creative, and they will be just fine.

We filed paperwork last week to put them back in school. They are starting a brand-new school where they will make brand-new friends and have brand-new teachers, and they have never been more excited in their lives about anything. New backpacks and lunchboxes were ordered. Ava has a matching lanyard to clip her mask to so she doesn’t lose it when she’s not wearing it during the day (thanks, Lilly Pulitzer for making back to school bags and accessories so much fun) and the twins are just happy they don’t have to wear masks at all.

Addison has been back in school for a few weeks now, and we are making the most of it. She’s not required to wear a mask in class, but she does have to wear one when she’s transitioning between classes. We are doing our best to keep her masks washed with a gentle cleanser after her wears so that she doesn’t end up with horrible skin due to all the filth and bacteria in them (because let’s all sit down for a moment and be honest – these everyday masks people are being forced to wear are doing so much more harm than good. These kids aren’t medical professionals who wear multiple new, clean masks throughout the day and are trained not to touch their masks or their faces throughout the day. These kids are taking one mask to school per day and touching it, probably throwing it inside their filthy bags, pockets, jackets, lunchboxes, putting them on their dirty desks – because they aren’t being cleaned between classes in under 5 minutes – and they are touching them with filthy hands and germs and they’re sneezing in them and sniffling in them, and they’re gross. They’re gross.). She wears a new one each day so we can clean the one from the day before, and we are just hopeful this won’t ruin her beautiful skin.

So, we made a mistake. Virtual school is not for us. Maybe it’s for you. But, it is absolutely not for this family. We tried it, we gave it the first four weeks of the new school year, and we couldn’t make it work. It would be so easy to blame it on the teachers or the district, but it’s us. We are the problem. We just cannot educate our kids by ourselves. We aren’t teachers. We are hindering their education, and that’s not all right with us.

I just want to shout out all the parents for making hard decisions. This year sucks. It’s not fun to know nothing about anything, to have normal taken away, to have to change our entire lives for something like this, and to lose the ability to control our own lives to an extent. We are all doing what we need to do for our kids right now, and we are all doing a great job. Whatever decision you made, mom and dad, you did awesome. Whether it’s working like a charm or you aren’t finding it to be the right choice, either, you are killing it, and you should be proud of yourself. Remember, at the end of the day, you are a mom/dad, and your kids love you no matter how many times you make a mistake.

We all make them. It’s owning up to them and being honest when you make one that sets us apart and teaches our kids the best lessons in life. Sometimes, we are wrong. Sometimes, we just have to make changes. But, our kids will always be better for it when we are honest with ourselves.

Keep up the heard work. You’re doing an amazing job. And, don’t feel bad if you don’t like being your own child’s teacher. Teachers are just special people.

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