I’m doing what I never dreamed I would. But like many grandparents, I’ve felt a call to step up during this pandemic year. And so I’ve been homeschooling three of my out-of-state, middle-school grandsons—teaching writing and literature twice a week on Zoom.
Until now, I’ve been a holiday, cousin-week, vacation-at-the-lake kind of grandma.
“I’m glad you don’t live right beside us,” a six-year-old grandson told me once.
On a couch under a blanket and in front of a fire, we had just shared popcorn, read a book, and played a game of Trouble. And he had seemed to be almost purring. So I was bewildered.
“Why, Jesse?” I asked.
“Because it wouldn’t be special like this,” he said. “It would just be everydayish.”
“I’m glad you like this,” I said, but I felt a pang.
I had lived by my grandma. And there was something about being able to sit on a stool and talk with her as she fed towels through a wringer washer or set eggs on the grading machine or beat icing in the bowl pushed into the hollow of her lap. She didn’t stop her life for me. But in small frequent bits, she came into my life and invited me into hers.
During this pandemic our scattered family hasn’t gathered as we usually do. But with my grandchildren, I’ve become a little more everydayish. One grandchild sends me an email: Grandma, can we work together on Zoom?
And so we get on Zoom. He does a page of math while I edit a chapter of a book I’m writing. Every once in a while, we look at each other and smile. Or we set a timer for ten minutes and report on our progress when it rings.
On Zoom, I’ve listened to violin practice and read a chapter book and practiced mental math and cheered for skateboard and scooter tricks. And I’ve watched a grandchild make crepes.
The other day, my ninety-two-year old mother called me right during a Zoom literature class.
“Hey, Mom,” I said. “Try to get on Zoom and join our class.”
And she managed! So there we were—my grandchildren and their great-grandma and me together in a work-a-day way.
Everydayish, like sitting by the wringer washer—sharing small bits of our lives.