The Perils of Parenting in a Pandemic

SOLSC21, Day 22

Most of my friends my age have kids younger than mine. Some of them find the large age gaps intriguing. Many times, I’ve been asked by exasperated parents which age is the most troublesome. Is the pregnancy the hardest part? Or the sleepless nights? Is it when they start walking and decide to taste and explore the world? Tweens? Teens? Adults? What did I think the most difficult age was? Right now, I don’t even remember my answers. Because, right now, I can only say that parenting. During. A. Pandemic. Is. Hard.

This slice of mine can have chapters or subtopics, but let me run through this real quick. My kids seem to have forgotten everything they were ever taught before the pandemic. Discussion between my husband and me? Oh, don’t they have the right to know what we’re talking about? And I kid you not, they don’t give up. EVER. My daughter forces my face towards her so I can look her in the eye and let her know what’s going on. “You said ‘moving’? We’re moving house? Yay! We’re moving to a new home, yay!!” In all probability, I am going to have to explain why I said what I don’t even remember in some passing conversation. 

They’ve also forgotten to wait for their turn to speak. There are two parallel conversations going on at any given time. My brain has become used to processing one message that comes in the right ear, and another form the other ear, at the same time. The result is probably not the intended message, but… pandemic.

I might have fixed timings for them to play indoors and outdoors. But right when I’m in the middle of a Zoom meeting, there will be a sticky note thrust under my nose, “Can I play in the neighbor’s house?” or “Can I play Brawl Stars on your phone?” or her favorite, “Can I eat chips?” Oh, she knows we’re not really visiting people yet, and she knows she’s not allowed to play games on my phone, AND she knows the rules about snacking. But when I’m in the middle of a meeting, I can’t really argue. I have actually turned my camera and mic off to do just that twice, but she probably knows that won’t always happen. I must learn from her how to make the most of an opportunity.

Last weekend, she woke up late. I heard her bawling from her room. Thinking it must have been a nightmare, I went to check. Her face was buried in her pillow. “Awww, my baby!” Mommy went to give her a hug to make her feel better. 

After some cajoling, I got the reason for the outburst. “I missed out on my screen time!” she bawled. I told her it was okay, that there are so many other things to do to enjoy the beautiful weather. But of course, it wasn’t easy. Missing screen time is sacrilege. 

“Then you should’ve gone to bed on time last night. Next time, remember, if you want your weekend screen time, go to bed on time.” 

“Nooooooooo! You didn’t send me to bed on time! Now I don’t want breakfast! I missed my screen time!”

See? The fault was mine. I know, the manuals and the experts say don’t give in. Stand your ground. But these kids have probably read all those manuals and spoken to all the experts, and they know each and every trick we are thinking of trying even in the remote future. They know the rules we live by. And they have devised methods to skirt every rule there ever was. Blame. Yell. Sulk. Hug. Kiss. Puppy-face. Angry face. Refuse-to-eat face. They know their way out.

Their study area looks like it was hit by a giant tsunami. They have encroached out of the study table and onto the carpet and the floor. Books, coloring pencils, paints, Lego, jigsaw puzzle pieces, toys (those Happy Meal toys never, ever break, do they?), multiple unfinished writing projects, and I don’t know what else. If this is the real estate they need for a couple days’ classes, when they go back to school, they will need two classrooms to themselves! 

This wouldn’t be complete without mentioning their art and knack of negotiation. Whoever said it is important to learn when to say no hasn’t seen pandemic kids. These kids know NOT to say no. That’s asking for trouble. Instead, they know to buy time! Go take a shower? Not now, I’ll go after I finish this drawing I’m making. Water the plants? Not now, I’ll do it after I finish these cookies. Put your dirty clothes in the basket? Not now, after I finish this chapter I’m reading. It takes less time to do it myself.

The struggle is real. But to be fair, I’ve not been very attentive to routines either. With my own life being thrown out of gear, it’s taken us all a whole year to get used to this lifestyle. Academics and homework have taken on new meaning. My work hours and schedules have changed, their classes are at different times on different days. My husband’s hours are different now. Outings are limited. They hardly get to meet people. They are not physically tired enough to go to bed at the earlier time, so bedtime has become delayed. There are more things than usual on the parents’ minds also. Not to forget the fact that because we are all home, it has made us a little lax with so many things. 

At the same time, in retrospect, I’m actually glad we got all this time together. It’s been hard, but it’s also been a lot of fun, and we’ve taken it all with some humor. That’s one reason why I don’t regret this past year – the time and the proximity it has afforded me with the kids, watching them grow, watching them create history as their stay-at-home period enters its second year. Yikes!

Published by Shaista

I have been teaching in different capacities for 15 years now, from kindergarten to middle school, to even adults. I LOVE teaching, LOVE change, LOVE trying out new things. Immersion in newer teaching techniques has, for better or worse, changed me forever.

6 thoughts on “The Perils of Parenting in a Pandemic

  1. I agree with you – things have definitely been…COZY…throughout the pandemic. As far as parenting goes, we are in a different section of weeds – my older son was 19 and the younger one was 16 when the pandemic started. They did a LOT of sulking and being in their rooms, so you could say they gave me a fair amount of space. Still, there are common threads: the tornado of kid stuff all about the house, the interrupted Zoom meetings. There were plenty of times I had to throw my younger son a glare as he entered the room dripping expletives while I was in class or a meeting. Charming. And, like you, even though there have been challenges, I have enjoyed the time and opportunity to be with them. We’ll see what time brings, I suppose!


  2. One of the best things about blogging, is that in a few years you’ll look back, remember this time fondly, and realize you made it through this time of your life just fine. I loved that you said your daughter has read all the manuals. Doesn’t it seem like they’ve figured out all of life’s tricks?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I cannot even begin to imagine parenting during a pandemic. Parenting, in general, is hard enough! I did chuckle as you shared they have read all the manuals and know all the tricks. I have to admit, those are some good moves. Notes during meetings, reading to avoid tasks, and using all the tricks of the trade. Impressive! Hopefully we are nearing the other side of this and life will go back to its old rhythms. Of course, that be a whole new adjustment as well.


  4. Parenting is hard anytime. Thank you for the chuckles. And, “when I’m in the middle of a meeting, I can’t really argue” is such a thing that there must be TikTok tutorials about. I have been in many a call when the teacher’s child has tried to use this to their advantage. It hasn’t worked out so well for the kid when it is just me and the teacher because I encourage them to mute me and deal with the child. Ha! (Now who is going to take on my darling?) 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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