CINDY POLUTA: Parents are tired. But we must accept that life sucks right now

opinion

As a parent, I am exhausted - and the academic year hasn't even started yet for the majority of children.

Constantly waiting to hear what future awaits our children feels like I have run a marathon.

In fact, running a marathon is easier because there's a definite finish line. At the moment COVID-19 keeps moving the finish line.

There’s millions of questions that run through one’s mind, but the loaded one is: do I have the strength, energy, patience and skills to get my child through another school year?

And the answer is, you probably don’t.

But you have no choice, and the helplessness of having no other option is in itself draining. We need to stop calling it homeschooling.

Firstly, homeschooling is something parents choose. It's a calm, organised, planned programme. What we're doing is crisis-schooling. It's thrown at us, and our children. And at any given moment, we're meant to just drop everything else, focus all our time on this, and apparently know how the heck to do it all.

I’m tired of WhatsApp groups. Aren't you tired of the speculation about when/if the children will go back, how it will look, and debates on what the school should or shouldn't be doing?

Aren't you tired of reading messages about someone's friend who has a mom who is a teacher who is very close to the decision makers who says bleh bleh bleh?

Aren't you tired of those people who have to be first to tell you the latest "oh my gosh guess what, this is the plan..."? It's never the plan.

I'm tired of thinking about how to juggle my own job while staying on top of the school work. To be honest, I'm tired of it just being me with the girls, at home staring at each other. Stuck.

School gives everyone the much-needed break and change of scenery, even if it's just for a few hours.

But most of all, I'm tired of breaking the news to my children that they can’t go back to school - and then watching them cry. They’re missing their friends, they’re missing their teachers. They're missing such a core part of their social development.

My children recently told me to stop always trying to be positive, to stop trying to find the bright side, to stop trying to find solutions and just accept their childhood sucks and say it sucks.

"IT SUCKS!", I scream behind their backs.

They’re missing all the fun stuff that goes with being at school – the stuff that distracts them from the world. School concerts, after-school sport, market days, orientation days, going to the tuckshop, passing notes in class, civvies days, school dances, break time with friends, all of it.

This might seem trivial for us as adults, given that we’re trying to survive in a pandemic. But we are speaking from a place of privilege, having already had glorious years making memories at school. Whether you liked or hated it, major life lessons are learnt beyond the classroom.

And when they ask, "when will this be over?", I'm tired of answering "it might never be", for the anger and disappointment that goes with that is draining.

I'm starting to wonder if we shouldn't be changing our mindsets altogether; start shifting our minds to "let's imagine this is it forever, and put all the systems in place to deal with it".

Perhaps if everyone started navigating from a place of "there is no finish line", and started preparing ourselves and our children mentally to ACCEPT it instead of telling them "things will be better soon", then maybe we would all be given the mental tools to be able to deal with this.

I've never lived through a pandemic.

You've never lived through a pandemic.

And our teachers and schools have never had to work through a pandemic.

It's a first time for everyone. No one has the answers. No one is getting it right. And no one is to blame.

I am just so tired and sad for my children right now. There's no amount of "positive thinking" that can think away a pandemic.

Cindy Poluta is an EWN sports anchor. Follow her on Twitter @CindyPoluta

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