Last Friday Meg's class of 35 had one kid out with influenza. As of Monday morning there were 10 kids out. Not all with confirmed cases of flu but with fevers and that's close enough for the Nagano Prefecture BOE. So they cut the school day short and sent everyone home. The teachers drove the kids home. Meg was registered at after school care that day so she headed over there with about six of her classmates. Only they were now officially quarantined so instead of being free to roam around and do some crafts or play soccer or ride a unicycle or just hang out they had to stay in one room. With a be-masked teacher/ bouncer standing guard at the door. When I went to pick her up they were all bundled up in a corner whispering. Without masks. Because of course that's what kids with suspected flu should do, right? Spray spit in each other's faces, right?
It's been quite a week. The official letter she brought home set out some pretty rigid rules for class closures- no going shopping, no visiting friends, no going to the library, park, community centre, no going for walks even in your neighbourhood 'you don't want to give your neighbours flu, do you?' Basically you stay home, wash your hands a lot, eat well, sleep well and gargle a lot. Oh, and expect random visits from the class teacher to check up on your well-being. Unfortunately, this strict regime didn't fit with the rest of the family and our commitments. With a few frantic phonecalls and some mad schedule re-jigging and lots of wonderfully understanding people we have managed to get through the week without loss of life, limb, living wage or laughter but that last one was touch and go. Meg was a real trooper being schlepped around to my classes all week- with her mask and her colouring books and her homework and her drink bottle.
Yes, I said homework. And that's the rub. Not only did the school refuse to educate my (incredibly healthy and active) child this week the teacher delivered a sheaf of worksheets for me to teach. Complete with an answer grid as after I teach it all I get to correct it. Hmmm, reckon I'll get his pay for the week in return? One 35th of it anyway? Meg is quite the eager beaver student and is really self-motivated when it comes to her studies so this usually wouldn't be a problem. And it wasn't for four out of five pages. We flew through kanji, counting by 10s and 5's, a read and respond passage and some copywork. Then we got to page five. Page five was an entire page grid. Numbers across the top, numbers down the left hand side, a plus sign in the top left corner and row upon row of empty boxes to fill in. Seems we've found a style of work Meg doesn't like. Doesn't like with a passion. And in one single A4 page all my wondering about whether I could/ should/ would ever homeschool my kids evaporated. Wow..... homeschooling mums are amazing! It took blood, sweat and tears to get that print done. Literally- the blood was Meg procrastinating by playing with a stapler, the sweat me running back and forth doing housework and keeping 30 second checks on the homework progress and tears were both our tears of frustration!
It wasn't all bad. It was quite nice spending so much one-on-one time with Meg. We went on a walk every day. Well I walked and she scooted. We compromised on lunch menus- Meg didn't buy my soup is a meal theory and I didn't want cheesey omelette every day! She spoke a lot more English than usual and we just hung out a lot. I'm going to miss that.
But, the week is over.
We have finished all the homework, survived two teacher visits (actually we weren't home for either and when I called him to grovel and explain he beat me to it 'Oh, I just assumed you were off teaching. Meg's fine, right?' - after that nasty list of do's and dont's? anti-climax!) and it's back to school on Monday. Even with the threat of masses of catchup work to do Meg's thrilled, I'm (secretly) thrilled to get back my lifestyle and here's hoping this is our one and only class closure of her school career.