I remember sitting with my mom once when I was in third or fourth grade. She was helping me finish my homework assignment where I had to come up with a name and slogan for my Colonial furniture-making business. I was completely stuck, unable to come up with any creative phrase to describe my fictitious cabinets and dressers for sale. My mom sat and brainstormed with me, looking at the pictures of furniture I had so skillfully cut out of magazines and glued onto a piece of paper.
“What about this? ‘Let our drawers hold your drawers,’” she suggested, waiting for my innocent mind to get the joke. My jaw dropped when I realized my mother was suggesting making a reference to underwear in a school assignment, for goodness’ sake! What a scandal. But I thought it was funny and clever, which met all of my requirements We smiled conspiratorially, and I nervously included the slogan at the bottom of my collage. I got an A.
That memory came to my mind fondly today as my fully grown self sat with a next generation third grader, helping him come up with some ideas for the cartoon he was supposed to draw for his Spanish class. El Sembrador is doing everything we can to help our kids not lose this class time, and those of us on campus are doing all we can to help our neighbor kids keep up with their work. For the past two weeks I have sat with him, typing in the endless Zoom meeting IDs and listening for the homework he is assigned. If he doesn’t finish his work in class I will walk through it with him, hastily reteaching myself things like sentence preterite and proper subtraction techniques just seconds before helping him learn it himself.
This is definitely not how I expected to be spending my time this May, but I’ve decided it is very good practice for my future as a foster mother. This whole concept of online learning is an adjustment for a lot of kids, not just for us adults. And while I don’t pretend in the slightest to know much about parenting or homeschooling, it has been a (sometimes) frustrating and (mostly) fun experience. I can only imagine how many more of these days are coming in my future, of sitting with my kids and walking them through a tough homework problem (and sneaking off to eat some Cheetos in secret while they’re studying).
Little 8-year-old me sitting at the kitchen table with my mom had no idea how quickly time marches on. She wasn’t thinking about how she would get to use the patience and kindness she learned at home to help someone else two decades later. And the boy learning about microorganisms through a video call right now isn’t thinking about his future kids either. But maybe one day he’ll look back at this strange time in his life, when things weren’t normal but his teachers and friends kept working to prepare him for the future. Maybe he’ll see how wonderful it was to have had good teachers who helped him, and how blessed he is to be able to do the same for future learners.
Things seem a little crazy right now, but it is comforting for me to be a part of this cycle of learning and teaching. It’s nice to see that amidst all the unknown, we can be delighted and assured that 2 plus 2 still equals 4.
Time marches on. And I have class tomorrow.