October 16, 2020
The boys wake Sean up and the morning starts. Tia runs down the stairs for one of the two highlights of her day – mealtime. The boys fire off their breakfast demands to Sean.
As my consciousness comes to life, I hear the cats taking turns in the litter box. I remember, there’s nothing pressing me today. I put my housecoat on and go downstairs. The boys are already working on part 2 of breakfast and Ben is hiding behind his hands. I pretend I can’t see him and act like I’m going to eat his breakfast. Jack says, “Morning, mum.” Ben says, “Boo!!” and giggles. I feign surprise and move toward the coffee maker. Sean is in the process of preparing the boys’ lunches for the day. “Morning. How’d you sleep?” he says, without the slightest whisper of resentment that I have just stumbled out of bed. As I pour my coffee and get toast, Sean continues his morning by catching a shower and then calling the boys up to brush their teeth.
A thought crosses my mind: Am I relevant anymore?
When the boys come back downstairs, I go up and throw on some clothes. When I come down again, Sean has their shoes and coats on, ready for our morning walk. Sean finally has a chance to focus on opening his computer and breathing by himself. Actually, while we walk, he sets up the boys’ computer stations, too.
Computers on, check. Partitions up, check.
The boys don’t want to bike, they want to walk, but they’re too slow and I like to tell myself this is my cardio, so I make them bike. I tell them winter is coming and they won’t be able to bike much longer.
Fisherman sit at the railway bridge, telling stories, comfortable doing something they’ve done long before we moved here.
Ben asks, “When are we gonna go fishing?”
Both boys are now able to bike over the bridge, but I have to bend down and hold onto Ben, meanwhile, walking the spaced boards in the bridge middle, hoping the coffee hits me and I’m quick enough not to fall through.
As we bike through our little village, people are emerging. We see busses go by and the kids walking to in-person school yell out to Jack, “Hi, Jack!” He looks, but says nothing. I ask why he doesn’t say hi, but he just shrugs and doesn’t seem to care.
Ben says, “Mum, don’t touch monarchs, they’re poisonous.”
“Really?” I say, half awake.
There’s so much beauty here. The river, the isolation, the leaves, the time with my boys. I wonder if they’ll be strange when they go to school again. What does it do to kids to learn online so young?
Que sera, sera plays in my had but I make up the lyrics, “Will they be weirdos, will they be freaks…”
Once we’re back at the house, we all invade Sean’s space again. He has set up a make-sift desk on the ticket counter. It’s hard to imagine that 100 years ago there were ticket clerks and trains right here. Now, its more like a one-room schoolhouse, but with laptops and partitions.
I pass the torch to Sean and head upstairs and into the shower. What am I even showering for?
When I get out, a multitude of voices climb up the stairs; Jack’s class is talking about a brain teaser and Autumn has something to say about it – of course.
Ben’s class is listening to ‘Oh, Canada’ again, for the second time this morning, and still with a background echo. His teachers still haven’t figured out how to mute themselves. One frustrated father has also forgotten to mute himself, and all of the parents giggle from their muted safety as he shouts at the tech-challenged teachers, “Ugh! Get ON with IT!”
I shake my mouse and my computer comes to life. I putter away at masters work, check the work of a few asynchronous students, and try to feel like I’m not wasting time until my parenting shift starts after lunch. It’s supposed to be a nice day. We’ll go outside to give Sean some quiet.
I’ll fill the bird feeders, walk the trail, who knows.
I come in to make dinner, but sentence the boys to stay in the ticket room or living room. Sean has retreated to his office off of the kitchen where the door closes.
Tia reminds me it’s five o’clock, time for her second highlight of the day.
Dinner conversation isn’t too lively, everyone knows what everyone learned today.
And we’re going to do it all again tomorrow.
Jack asks, “Dad, do you have nighttime snacks?”
“Yeah,” Sean confesses. They continue a conversation about this, but I drift off to my own world. Bath time happens and the boys are getting too big to share the tub. Then, storytime. Whose turn is it to pick a book? One of us reads, the other cleans the kitchen.
Finally, we are on the couch watching tv and not talking. Brains off? Check.
*I wrote this one morning in my journal on October 16, 2020 and thought it was a good fit for today’s #SoCS challenge, but I did go against the challenge rules and add in the word “confesses” after the fact for today’s #FOTC challenge. Not sure if that counts, but I hope you enjoy reading.