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The Takeaway from 2020

One of the toughest things about homeschooling, at least for me as the parent who’s not actually DOING the homeschooling, is dealing with the people who feel it’s not the best choice for the kid, as if we’re depriving them of essential social lifesblood by not putting them in school. Now, with COVID-19 making a lot of parents homeschool, it’s been a bit satisfying to field a few “So, uh…how is this done?” questions.

I mean, beyond that base-level bit of revenge-gratification, it’s interesting seeing such a shift towards interest (forced interest, mind you, but interest regardless) in homeschooling. I’m in support of this; I’ve been talking about how great homeschooling is for years. It’s not for everyone, certainly. But if you can and are able, it’s fantastic.

Because nothing is ever easy, my kids are now at a point where they’re wanting to go back to school. So while everyone else is going the homeschool route, we’re actually looking into different schools again. What can I say? We’re one step ahead of the curve. Or maybe one step behind. Or maybe we’re all just flailing, making the best choices we can, changing, adapting, guessing, winging it.

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Speaking of winging it, how’s the Christmas season working out? It’s been a bit of a sideways year, clearly, and as parents we struggle with facing this most expensive of seasons while perhaps facing a layoff due to COVID-19.

No one wants to face a broke Christmas, and yet here we are, many parents getting hit hard by the continued economic fallout from the virus. It’s like we’re all fumbling in the dark, everyone nervously asking everyone, “So, uh…how is this done?” about everything.

So, how is it done? How can we possibly continue to be parents while schools are a zombie flick and Christmas is a mix of anxiety and depression because we’re suddenly in a huge recession, one we had no idea was coming last Christmas? How do we survive?

I don’t know. With a sense of humour, I suppose. With a sense of community. With a strength that no one knew we had, even during our most difficult parenting moments.

Let this thought be my Christmas gift to you: a time in the future where we’re all together again without worry of a virus, drinking a drink and laughing, kids doing their thing, world still turning, life still going on, all the little problems and dramas playing out like they always did before. Somehow, we tell ourselves they should matter less, but, screw it, we’re humans, they’ll still matter. And that will be great. Stressing over the parent-teacher interview is a lot better than stressing over a recession, stressing over a virus we can’t control. And we’re getting there. We’ll get there.

It’s been a hell of a year. For parents—trying to navigate the line between explaining everything to our kids and keeping them blissfully sheltered. It’s been more trying than the years usually are, which is pretty trying in the first place, if we’re being honest. My daughter said it best: “It’s like we’re living in a Dear Canada book,” referencing the series of books she enjoys reading about Canadian history. And we are. We’re living in history, trying to be parents in a super sketchy 2020, a year that, yes, books will be written about and people 50 years from now will read, and they’ll think, man, that must have been tough. That’s the truth: it is tough. It’s interesting that we’re living through it, and while I know that doesn’t make the Christmas-finances stresses any easier, it’s… something.

Look, we’re going to make it, and I’ll be writing this column next year, and maybe we can get together and have a drink and shake our heads and laugh. Our kids will get educated one way or another. And we’ll all make it through this, one way or another.

Greg Pratt
Greg Pratt
Greg Pratt is the father of two children and a local journalist and editor. His writing has appeared in, among other places, Today’s Parent, Wired, Revolver, and Douglas.