Kat’s year wasn’t going so well. Her trip to India was cancelled. Her freezer had broken down. She hadn’t seen Violet in ages. And she was stuck in the house with Bill nagging her about getting rid of things that were all useful and she had plans for.
She was just about to leave the house in search of more face masks when Kylie called in tears. Kylie’s nursing skills were in high demand and her shifts had doubled at the hospital. Then the school had announced that a teacher and one student had coronavirus and they would shut down for the rest of the week for deep cleaning. All students would be learning from home till further notice. Bruce couldn’t afford to take time off. He had more work than he could handle right now.
Kylie was stretched to her limit, but Kat knew what to do. This was the moment she’d been preparing for her whole life. “Don’t worry Love. I’ve got this. I trained as a teacher. Send Tiffany to me and I’ll make sure she does her spelling and reading. I even still have your old maths books from primary school. We’ll get through this.”
Kylie was taken aback. She needed help but had to handle this situation carefully. “Hang on Mum. I appreciate you want to help but you really won’t need your teaching skills. Tiffany just needs a clear space to do her work, some lunch and snacks and somebody to keep her on track.”
Kat nodded. “Yeah yeah. Leave it to me.”
Although Tiffany had never spent time at Grandma’s house alone, the agreement was made. Kylie was relieved to have a solution. Kat was thrilled to have new purpose. Tiffany would arrive the next morning with her supplies.
There was so much to do. Kat went into a whirlwind of planning.
“Bill, remember Kylie’s desk? We’ve gotta get Kylie’s desk out.”
“Kylie has a desk? Where is it?”
“Yes, in her old room. Under those boxes. It has a white tablecloth over it to protect it. I want to make a cosy study nook for Tiffany.”
“Kat, there’s no room to put a desk. How about we just use the dining room table?”
“Oh OK, I’ll clear the Christmas decorations off it.”
“Is that from last Christmas? Or are you getting in early for next Christmas?”
Bill thinks he’s so funny. But after weeks in the house together, Kat’s heard enough and she’s not laughing.
Kat gets busy writing lists. One for things that Tiffany needs to bring over in the morning and another for her to go shopping at the office supply store before it closes.
“Kylie, did you get my fax?”
“I don’t have a fax machine, Mum.”
“Oh I sent over a list of things for Tiffany to pack. She’ll need her exercise books, a pencil sharpener. I know I have one here but I can’t find it now. Make sure she brings her pencil case and a skipping rope for play lunch. Do little girls still collect swap cards? She can bring them. I might be able to dig out yours and we can swap. And make sure you bring all her text books. And photocopies of the lesson plans. I’ll have to get up to speed.”
“Mum slow down. She’ll bring her iPad. They have all the lessons on there. All you have to do is feed her and supervise her.”
“Yeah yeah. Leave it to me.”
Then Kat called to Bill. “I need you to go to the office supply store. I don’t have time because I’m going to the supermarket for school lunchbox food.”
“We’ve got a pantry full of food.”
“But not school food.”
“There’s a difference?”
Kat loved Bill but sometimes he was so dense. “Anyway, can you get some construction paper in at least 5 colours and a box of chalk. I’ll get you to drag the chalkboard out when you get home. You can get a whiteboard and some markers as well. We better get more printer cartridges to print out the worksheets. I have some that I can make copies of.”
“Slow down Love. They do all the learning on their electronic gadgets nowadays.”
“Well that’s the problem with school these days. I want to give her a good head start. I want to be the best home school teacher and make it memorable.”
“Tiffany’s only coming here for 3 days. After that it’s back to school. And it’s not home school. It’s remote learning. You’re not her home school teacher, you’re her grandma.”
Early next morning, Kat is ready to be the best home school teacher she can be. She chose an outfit that looked professional yet friendly and had her timetable prepared and dining table set up. She took a deep breath and pondered what her life would have been like if she’d been able to finish her teaching degree. Now was her time to shine.
The doorbell rang. Tiffany arrived with none of the stuff Kat had requested. She had her iPad, some headphones and a drink bottle. She wasn’t even dressed in her uniform. Tiffany looked around for somewhere to sit on the couch but there wasn’t one. So she sat at the dining table as Kat invited.
Promptly at 9am the school day started. Kat wanted to explain the timetable, but Tiffany logged on to her digital classroom. The teacher and other student faces appeared and Kat tried to introduce herself to the teacher. The teacher politely but firmly rejected any conversation as she took roll call. And so it went on. Kat really was reduced to providing snacks and supervision. Sitting on the sideline and listening to a lesson that was very different from what she remembered, Kat cut shapes out of construction paper. Perhaps she and Tiffany could do an art project at lunch time.
But at the lunch break, Tiffany chatted with a friend online while Kat made sandwiches and cut fruit. As Kat walked into the dining room with her tray of food, she overheard Tiffany say, “Oh there’s no room for me here. Grandma loves her stuff more than me.”
Home school was memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.
Catch up on all the past Adventures of Kat here…