A feast in the Great Hall

Just like every holiday during 2020, the idea of Thanksgiving in quarantine felt odd. My children have also been having a racial reckoning of their own this year. While we seen racism and bigotry personally directed at them, they are becoming more cognizant of what systemic oppression looks like. To them, it looks a lot like Thanksgiving. Juliana is very determined to find a different path to having honest conversations about the real history of America.

It was also Thanksgiving when my family decided they no longer wanted to have meaningful contact with me anymore because of my outspokenness about past hurtful behavior and justice issues related to my children. So this particular holiday holds little to no appeal for me for anyway. For both those reasons, we decided to re-invent it this year.

The kids wanted a feast, Harry Potter-themed. Yes, we had a conversation about transphobia and the ever-troubling attitude of JK Rowling, but the kids decided this is a Hogwarts themed feast and not a JK Rowling themed feast, so she isn’t going to steal their joy. Also, my kids have always found the Potter fandom to be incredibly supportive, so they are unwilling to let that be stolen from them as well.

And so, the Hogwarts Great Hall was born.

Some traditions remained, although altered, like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

But there were new traditions too, like wand making.

There were old foods and new too.

Pies were a must, and turkey too.

But, Honeyduke’s was open with some special treats. Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Butterbeer, and…CHOCOLATE FROGS.

It was quite the feast!

When the sunset, and the floating candles in the Great Hall were twinkling, we all gathered to eat, some of us in our house colors!

–FullPlateMom, who can see the feast becoming an annual tradition.

‘Dis birtual school is not for me!’

That was Cate’s declaration in an all to common moment of extreme frustration this week.

This poor girl is finding ‘birtual’ (aka VIRTUAL) school to be not for her. I think there are so many kids that feel that way right now.

My Deaf girls have limited access to what other children have full access to. Their interpreters and teachers for the deaf are doing the absolute best they can, but this method of learning poses barriers for children with disabilities that creates inequities, even more inequities then are found during face-to-face learning.

Cate finds it frustrating. Our internet connection drops because so many kids are on it. Her computer is slow. The software goes down at inopportune moments. Her days often end in tears. How many other kids feel that way? In my experience, quite a few.

It puzzles me why our district would choose this moment to decide to focus on rigor, especially for our students of color, who are feeling the impacts of poverty and oppression now more than ever. Our district handed out internet hotspots that are less than optimal (let’s be real, they’re junk). Which kid is supposed to learn with those? And when you lack housing and are operating them off the dashboard of your parent’s car, which you are currently sleeping in, is rigor really the concern?

I am struggling so badly to understand the leadership choices I am seeing made in our district during the midst of a global pandemic. It is incredibly distressing to me as a mental health professional.

–FullPlateMom, who would like to see connection prioritized.

Hamilween

It was a Hamilton Halloween this year! Tess is SO into the movie that her enthusiasm was contagious. We always have a Halloween theme here, so it was natural that Hamilton would be the theme this year.

Trick or treating would be too dangerous, so we decided to throw our own Halloween bash, complete with decorations.

We even projected the movie during the party!

There were themed snacks.

A good time was had by all.

–FullPlateMom, who is not throwing away her shot.

School Struggle Bus

This school year has been hard on everyone. My kids are all at home right now, attending school via some very old and unreliable Chromebooks that our district gave us. I hear that is more than some children in other districts got, so I guess I should be grateful for that? If I’m being completely real though, and this is the only space I can, I find it hard to believe that the wealthiest country in the world can’t do better for all of us.

Our school district has chosen to have on site child care for families who need it most. I think we can do this safely…if all the staff follow the health and safety guidelines written by the Nursing staff that the district pays quite a pretty penny to employ. That hasn’t happened yet. I have never felt more unsure about my career choice in life. I have never, ever questioned my choice to become a nurse. Now though, as science denial rears its ugly head and I see some of the most callous behavior in regards to public health that I have in my life, I spend nearly every day questioning it.

Why am I even here? I would be of more use in an ER or an ICU right now. It is hard to sit here as our COVID numbers rise, and not contemplate quitting every single day. “Pull your mask up, please. Over your nose, please.” And I’m saying this to ADULTS. The children would do it if the adults would model it. But one person asking this of them while the people with them all day don’t do it, is going to have every little impact. There are schools with no Nurse, that isn’t right either, but this is unsustainable. I’m not sure I can keep going.

Two years ago, with so much hope, I interviewed for this job and chose it because I hoped to effect change against the cycle of harm that my children had endured in our local public schools. Now, every single day, I wonder if I am contributing to that cycle of harm. The vast majority of the children attending our child care program, where we are struggling to follow health and safety guidelines, live in poverty. Some of them lack health care. Now they’re in a situation where their chances of contracting the virus are exponentially higher. Even if they recover quickly, will their family members? What if they’re cared for by their grandparent? How will that person be impacted? All of these thoughts scroll through my head daily. Sometimes, overnight, they scroll through hourly.

Joe is in his first year of teaching at the same school. I don’t want to dampen his joy. He’s really good at this, and he really loves it. My killing that Joe would be absolutely awful. So, I’m working through the chain of command, trying to explain why this is so dangerous. So far, I’m met with a whole lot of shoulder shrugging. No one is quite sure what to do. Staffing is rough. No one wants to do this job. They’ll want to do it even less if they have a letter of discipline in their file. While I also understand that, this is worth it.

We can’t lose a life to this recklessness.

–FullPlateMom, who is stuck between a rock and a hard place.