I Just Want to be My Child’s Mother — Not her Teacher, Not her Therapist
This morning my six-year-old daughter cried because she didn’t get a turn to show her reindeer picture to her class on Zoom. At first, I thought she would get over it in a few minutes and so I let her cry.
Ten minutes later she was still crying. Sobbing, snotty tears.
Clenched angry fists.
She mumbled through her wet mouth that she raised her hand and nobody let her talk. She just wanted to share her picture but they were all done sharing pictures. Her teacher turned her camera off because she was crying and she was crying because she wanted a turn. She continued sobbing.
I wrote a message to her teacher in the chat asking if she could have a turn because she was so upset. That her being upset seems pretty justified to me. She said no because she doesn’t always give them all a turn to share and that at school, she would apologize for not giving her a turn and move on. And I get that. But we are at home and this is hard.
As the class moved on, she couldn’t focus on the video being played about emotional fish. It escalated her feelings and she shouted, “I am the angry fish! I am angry!”
Then, the next thing I knew I was arguing with my crying first grader. Threatening her that we weren’t going to do this anymore — as if not participating in her remote learning were punishment for either of us.
So at that point, I knew that our work was over for the day because there was no coming back from this. I left the Zoom meeting and told her to go and play with her toys.
I sat at my desk and took a sip of my coffee and saw a news alert on my phone that our Governor suggested all schools return to remote instruction. But who does that benefit? It doesn’t benefit a kid like mine whose IEP only translates to a negative denominator in the remote learning environment.
When we go online my child loses her paraprofessional and the chance to work on social skills. She loses her therapy services and much like today, she loses any progress she once made towards emotional regulation when she has a breakdown over something as small as sharing a reindeer picture.
Would she have cried like this if she were at school? Maybe but probably not. She would have her peers modeling appropriate behaviors and her para to get her back on task. She wouldn’t be stuck between trying to emulate the confusing boundaries of school-behaviors and home-behaviors, screens and toys, or battling her need for attention versus her ability to regulate her own emotions.