I was in preschool when my mom took a new job.
Her schedule was erratic. An evening here. A weekend there.
I was erratic too.
“She’s acting up because she doesn’t like the unpredictability of your schedule,” the pediatrician told my mom.
The pediatrician appreciated the necessity of my obsessiveness. If it was a problem, she would have told me to tough out my mom’s schedule. She would have said it’d make me a better person.
Clearly, I was already a better person because the doctor told my mom to get a consistent schedule.
My mom changed jobs. I got better.
Or maybe worse.
I’m sharing this story because the year and a half of pandemic-driven pseudo-school has disrupted more than kids’ education. The inconsistent schedule has been brutal for people like me.
Regimentation is the lifeblood of obsessives.
And introverts like me need alone time. Absence truly does make our hearts grow fonder.
As in, if you want us loving and rational we’re going to need you to back it the hell up every once in a while.
And remember the list of injuries my house incurred with everyone just constantly being in it? The time has come to stage an Under the Tuscan Sun-level renovation.
I even have a cute Italian guy. I mean, he’s only one-fifth Italian, but don’t let our German last name fool you. He is every bit as cute as Diane Lane’s limoncello-swilling boyfriend.
With school returning to five days a week, eight hours a day, I could build a schedule for myself.
I planned workouts and grocery shopping. The kids’ karate. I ordered paintbrushes and something called Cleaning Gel. I planned and planned and planned.
School began one Thursday late in August. The following Monday, my oldest climbed from the bus complaining of abdominal pain, headache, muscle aches.
“But I’m hungry, Mom. Really hungry. Can you make me some eggs?”
Hungry was good. Hungry I could handle. I made the eggs.
“Oh, this looks so good!” my progeny exclaimed, popping a forkful of scrambled eggs into an eagerly waiting mouth.
Then that kid ran to the bathroom, vomiting eggs and what looked like ravioli.
I kept Patient Zero home from school Tuesday.
By Wednesday, that kid was better. I shipped everyone off to school and got to work.
Until my phone shrilled with alerts.
The kids were coming home early in anticipation of Hurricane Ida.
That evening, my phone buzzed again. School would be virtual the following day for the same reason.
I’d rather deal with regurgitated ravioli than virtual school.
And now I’m beginning to think my mom maybe should have made me tough out her job situation.
Anyway, virtual school turned out to be a no-go. As discussed here on WHYY, Ida’s flooding caused power outages that canceled school outright.
The kids were thrilled. Thanks to a bevy of September holidays, their scheduled five-day weekend had become an unprecedented six-day weekend after just one week of school.
By the time they returned to classes on Sept. 8, school had formally been in session nearly two full weeks, but the actual number of days my kids had attended numbered just five and a half.
Well, four and a half for the kid that sprayed E. coli-laced eggs all over my bathroom.
By Monday of the following week, I was ready for my schedule to run more like a Navy SEAL team and less like that kid’s turbulent gut.
But Wednesday found me at the hospital, eyeing X-rays of my son’s foot and waiting for him to get fitted with a walking boot.
Growth plate fracture.
It was about that time I read this article from The Washington Post. So it seems everyone is suffering this staccato start to school.
The personal growth I failed to achieve in preschool now stands before me, inviting me to relax my standards. Why follow a strict schedule? Why rely so heavily on a regular school structure? Why condemn your husband for slinging the plunger over his shoulder like he’s Paul Bunyan?
Well, that’s a bit extreme, Personal Growth. That plunger-slinging is probably how we wound up with cafeteria ravioli all over the bathroom floor on the third day of school.
There’s something to be said for schedules, and the rigor of adhering to them. I rather like this article from The Guardian, which basically tells pandemic-related Personal Growth to shove it.
So shove it, Personal Growth. At least until I can pencil some time for you into my schedule.