A previous version of this post was published in The Fresno Bee on Sunday, May 2, 2020.
Seven weeks of distance learning: DONE! We’ve been doing inexplicably well at our house thanks to a daily 10am ‘school start time’ that kicks off with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer. Everyone gets dressed, makes their beds and then we’re off and into reading, writing, math and spelling. We have an hour for lunch and recess and then wrap up at 2pm. Sometimes we do P.E. dance parties with Jennifer Lopez & Shakira blasting…. or Nintendo ‘Just Dance’ videos. Both girls are getting really good at practicing piano. I’m picking lemons the size of my head from my fruit tree in our backyard. I fully credit the bed-making for productively launching us into our days…
Week One was complete with a can-do attitude & God-Is-Watching-Us hope. Week Two was chock-full of rationing & rage. Week Three was full of being fine, faithful & fabulous. Weeks 4 & 5 got really stupid…. and now I”m just DONE.
But, while I have my daughters’ attention, you bet I’m going to teach them a few lessons they otherwise might not learn if it wasn’t for this COVID-19 situation. Some of our recent vocabulary words:
Civic Duty: What we need to do to serve the overall good of our community. Ie: Stay Home. (This was our very first lesson, when we didn’t yet know real-time, localized data about this virus.) We will always do our civic duty for the good of our country.
Tyranny: What happens when your civic duty is taken advantage of, when you realize that current facts, data and real-life happenings are not logically adding up to create the positive outcome you were once enthusiastically contributing to [with your original act of civic duty]. We will not blindly accept tyranny, even if it is shrouded as ‘protective measures’ that a government leader instructs us to do, to convince the masses they will not be ‘safe’ otherwise — regardless of localized data, millions of furloughed workers and hospital & healthcare systems dangerously close to collapse.
COVID-19 has delivered whiplash education for learning how to listen carefully, when to think analytically, who to believe, what to read and accept and where to walk around in your own neighborhood so you don’t get publicly shamed for not wearing a face covering outdoors (despite keeping more than 10 feet of distance between you and the next guy). Living in California (specifically, the Los Angeles area) is proving to be disappointing — in leadership, in the public’s common sense and in fellow community members bullying anyone who dare use their brain to think and/or act independently while also maintaining safety for all.
I’ve wept over the devastating loss of lives (yes, this virus gets very real for elderly and immune-compromised), yet I’ve also wept equally about our loss of so many basic freedoms irrationally revoked due to fear and near-dictatorship directives in this once-glorious state of California.
- Releasing thousands of prisoners back into society… while our wide-open beaches are closed to law-abiding citizens (yes, they did social-distance — look at the aerial shots, people).
- Filling outdoor skate parks with sand… while homeless are still allowed to defecate and inject themselves with drugs in our streets.
- Suggesting that healthy folks ‘volunteer to help others’… while ordering small businesses to continue to be closed.
- Furloughing thousands of doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals… because our ERs don’t have enough patient volume to sustain them.
- Requiring (and fining) local residents if one is not wearing a face-covering outdoors… while criminals are now caught and instantly released without bail.
I COULD GO ON AND ON AND ON. BUT I WON’T BECAUSE MY BRAIN AND HEART CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE. But yeah, you bet I tell my 8 and 9 year old daughters these facts. Because if I don’t tell them, who will?
I’m not wearing a mask when I’m outside in my own freakin’ neighborhood and am appropriately distanced — and I’m not going to make my kids wear one when they’re riding bikes. I’m no longer avoiding seeing family members and close friends. We happily stayed home to flatten the curve (I stand behind it being necessary to do so) — hell, I even [reluctantly] applauded when Gov Newsom had the foresight to secure the USS Mercy ship back in March just in case. Our hospitals are now geared up, our professionals are educated and equipped and all of us stopped an immediate spike to prevent a larger mass tragedy onslaught. Now, we’re learning that about 95% of COVID patients thankfully recover without hospitalization, the virus is not deadly to children, nearly half of Los Angeles County deaths occurred in nursing homes and our original data models are questionable at best. (And no, it’s not necessarily healthier to wear a flippin’ flimsy cotton mask — look up real studies, real research.)
Time. To. Open. (Slowly, steadily.) EXCEPT NOW WE’VE KILLED THOUSANDS OF BUSINESSES AND TOO MANY HAVE BEEN BRAINWASHED BEYOND REPAIR TO THINK STRAIGHT ANYMORE… and yes, my girls are learning this.
“It’s YOUR job to think, YOUR job to sort information, YOUR job to use your smart brains to determine what might not make sense…” I tell them. “Even if everyone around you is telling you that it makes sense to things that go against what the United States stands for [freedom, facts and reason through fear].” Every morning, after our Pledge of Allegiance and before we jump into math, we TALK. And they LEARN.
I’m conditioning my daughters how to sift facts from fear and be educated thinkers. BECAUSE IF I DON’T TEACH THEM NOW, THEY’LL NEVER LEARN. Be cautious, be reasonable, be respectful for what every American soldier has fought and died for. Because “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” (Thank you, John Adams. I recoil imagining what you’d think about all of this happening now…)
Take advantage of this distance-learning time to really teach your kids. Because I’m teaching mine.
(Should I throw in “Indivisible” for next week, or is it that word even relevant anymore?)