7 Things Learned While Helping My 3rd Grade Nephew During Distance Learning (AKA Zoom)

Being in Los Angeles, we will likely be one of the last cities to let the kids go back to school, in my opinion, based on the past year. They are going back everywhere around us but not yet for us, says the LAUSD.

Because of my flexible schedule as a furloughed server and freelance writer, I volunteered to help my 9 year old nephew do his Distance Learning. He has a lot of energy and last year, I saw how it was going with being taught in front of a computer screen, so I vowed to do my best to help. I sit with him during the entire zoom two days a week and go through his google classroom with him daily. I check his homework. His teacher knows me well.

My nephew tells me I help all the time, and continually thanks me for it through his words and actions. I’m fortunate he does. Because let’s just say it has not been easy. His love and education are what keep me going. I get a lot in return and have no regrets.

On that note, allow me a brief interruption….

To teachers everywhere who are working around the clock, in chaotic times with unclear directives, I bow to you. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

7 Things Learned While Helping My 3rd Grade Nephew During Distance Learning (AKA Zoom)

  1. A child’s love is truly the best gift out there. It’s raw, real and has true purpose.
  2. I am 43 years old and cannot do third grade math. In fact, it makes me rip my hair out.
  3. I thought I was a better speller than I really am.
  4. Does the five-second rule still apply with parents today when a snack is dropped? If not, huh….. well… too late
  5. I’ve seen more boogers to last a lifetime. A few even placed in my hand for observation.
  6. Nine year olds have a weird body movement clock. They can’t stay still for longer than a minute.
  7. And on that note, their attention span is so minimal that I truly wonder how they remember anything at all. Unless it has to do with video games. Then, they can focus for hours on end. Which is equally amazing.

11 Unintended Lessons learned from being home due to COVID

Unless you’re on the front lines of the pandemic, which includes all those deemed essential workers, then you’ve pretty much been in some form of isolation or alteration of your home lifestyle because of COVID. Some are in total isolation, and some are in quarantine, some are saying F U to the rules, and others are in a thousand other potential scenarios.

Point being, we are all dealing with COVID in some form, and it’s on a global scale – GLOBAL! Isn’t that fascinating, in-and-of-itself that it’s a global pandemic, and we are in a time period where global communication is instant?

But I digress…

While dealing with being furloughed from my restaurant job, I’ve had to change my entire lifestyle. And while doing so, I’ve noticed a few lessons learned that I thought I’d share…. please add any of your own in the comments!

11 Unintended Lessons Learned From Being Home Due to COVID

1. It’s important to rotate your couch cushions… or at the very least sit in different spots. Not only for firmness, but no one needs to see where your butt’s been spending a lot of its time.

2. You can actually forget to shower for days.

3. There is an INSANE amount of content to stream. And good shit too!

4. Days of the week can lose their meaning. I’m thinking of creating SunMon, a 48-hour period of easing out of one week and into the next.

5. I should not expect to get a callback when applying for a grocery store job.

6. There is an INSANE amount of content to stream. And good shit too!*

7. I have absolutely no desire to wear a bra. Ever again.

8. Working in pajamas is something we should seriously consider, if not only for the comfort but for the ease of having less laundry to do.

9. Children adapt WAY quicker than adults do. Like incredibly so. We should study it…

10. The absolute best thing about Zoom is that you only have to prepare from the waist up. But of course, connecting us all is cool too.

11. If money stacked up as quickly as dishes did, DAMN – we’d all be bajillionaires!

*(Yes, this was written twice, that’s how much good shit!)

Socialization is key

In this age of Corona, being around others is something more rare than it is plentiful.

For some, who work in jobs that still exist, they ARE still around others, socializing a ton, like those in food service, delivery, healthcare and ride sharing.

And then there are those you are around because you’ve been around them since day one of the Pandemic and what they have, you have.

And some who don’t give a shit and socialize like it was 1999.

Regardless of what group you fall into (and there are a lot more,) what I don’t see is an end in sight. Even with a vaccine, no one can be forced to take it. And even if it was tried to be implemented by force, a civil war would likely happen and then the virus would dominate.

I’m thinking we have to figure out how to just deal with this new reality before our economy tanks even further.

And while, I’m a believer things will change after the election (like kids back in school, flight routes reopening and the like,) it’s not going to happen overnight.

And I fear for the ones lonely in this process.

I fear for the kids who no longer know where their friends are. Or if they even still have any.

I fear for the communities that need others, like AA, churches and the like.

But what I fear most is that we are becoming a society who fails to understand socialization is part of what makes us human.

After having lunch with a couple girlfriends today, whom I haven’t seen since this whole thing began, I was left thinking 1) how much I need to socialize with others and 2) how humanity is cherry-picking what is okay and what is not.

What say you?

A Beginning

I know I’ve been writing a lot about children lately… Perhaps it’s because they’re the only ones leaving a good impression on me in recent times…

The world has been shook, that’s for sure. And how the pieces fall in that wake will leave many consequences to come.

Philosophically speaking, we must ask ourselves “What world are we leaving future generations? And more specifically, speaking of where I live, what is the America to come?”

Pandemics disrupt. It’s what they do. But rather than bring people together, it has created an even greater chasm between those of differing opinions and since everyone thinks they are right, how will any meaningful change occur that isn’t politicized to death?

So, I want to pose a BIG beginning solution…

What if, instead of caring about what side of the political team you’re on, consider being on team humanity? And from that premise, perhaps then, we can begin to discuss how to deal with this pandemic and move forward toward individual prosperity rather than our standard of government/big business crony capitalism political BS.

With movements such as #blacklivesmatter and #metoo, people who have been disenfranchised are finding their voice and starting to be heard. There is tremendous power in understanding each other… and that’s where I think we need to begin because differences will always exist, and that’s a fact.

And children. Oh, let us learn from them!

The other day, I was hanging with my 8 & 10 year old nephews. We decided to do movie day but both of them wanted to watch something differently. As Aunt, I said, okay, I’ll write the name of both movies on slips of paper and we’ll randomly select. Knowing I was playing with fire since one of them would not get the movie they wanted, I hoped they would see that both options could work but a decision had to be made fairly.

Well, I was in for a surprise.

The 8 year old won. His choice was “Godzilla” while his brother wanted to watch “StarDog & TurboCat.” I watched the “one who got his choice” eye his older sibling, noticing the disappointment in his brother’s face. A moment later, the 8 year old  suddenly said, “No, it’s okay, Aunt Tina. Let’s watch StarDog.”

Both myself and the 10 year old snapped our heads toward him and said, “Really?” “Are you serious?” To which this beautiful child said, “Yeah, it’s okay. It will be a fun movie too.”

Moral of the story… Even if you get your way, it’s not always the best choice to make.

 

 

 

 

We, Adults, Have A Lot To Learn

Anyone else about to deactivate all their social media platforms because of the amount of vitriol, ignorance, sanctimonious crap that people keep projecting?

I am 42 and I have never seen America more divisive and nasty.

Here’s the thing, we can research and make informed opinions, but unless you’re an expert in the field you are discussing, should you really be speaking from a place of 100% knowledge? And then, to build on that, why pick on those who disagree with you? Do you really think THAT is the way to bring change?

I think what’s happening here, if I may, is there is an abundance of misdirected anger, wrath, unhappiness within oneself, and it has found its outlet.

THE CORONAVIRUS.

Yes, this virus is very real. But why is the pandemic bringing us apart rather than bringing us together?

If I may pose a theory,  expanding on what I wrote above, is that people are unhappy but rather than seek comfort in humanity, they shun it. They pick the worst and highlight that. They seek the ones who disagree to pick fights, so they can feel “better”, and rather than learn and grow, regression is at an all time high.

It’s not cause I’m saying so… just look around you.

Clearly, it’s much more difficult to understand people who are different than us than it is to seek comfort in those who agree with you, so the latter is the favorite. But no population will ever think the same and while that is a great thing, it also causes chaos.

Welcome to humanity.

Look, I don’t have the answer to give to end this all, but I will offer this true story as a beginning to finding the answer:

I was reading a book at a hotel pool. There were two children playing in the water – maybe ages 10 (girl) and 7 (boy) – along with their grandmother. When a family entered the pool area, the girl saw there were two boys coming in – one in their age group, one a bit younger. And so, she turned to her brother and said, “Look, we can make friends!”

 

The Sensitivity of Children

Life has been a whirlwind for me. I’m sure I’m not the only one, so maybe you can commiserate? I mean, damn, if things aren’t getting a little crazy up in the world. Most of it, for good reason… (the brilliance of the protests (yes!) but that is for another post…)

After a first-in-your-lifetime shutdown, are you coming out a bit different?

I know I am, that’s for sure.

I’m about to return to work as a server, but in a way that I haven’t done before now that COVID caused new rules, so I am struggling with if I can still do it. I have long wanted to stay in the restaurant business as I make my films and write my stories both for my love of food and wine and also for the tangible aspect of seeing people enjoying themselves and knowing I am part of the reason why.

For those who don’t know, in the past, I’ve worked entertainment jobs, such as assistant to Scott Rudin on the Paramount lot and assistant editor on season four of American Idol, both of which I chose to leave, because when I was working those jobs and similar ones, I felt empty. Like I was a cog in the entertainment machine, but not really making any difference, though it’s definitely worth noting Scott Rudin is a genius in producing original storytellers and I wish I could have learned more from him when I was his LA assistant, but, that’s for another story and sadly, I can’t go there. I signed an NDA.

Anywho, back to now. I’ve been going through a lot and I’m starting to feel empty again in my employment. Returning to a restaurant job where the industry has done a 180*, while also ending homeschooling my nephew two days a week, (BTW teachers everywhere, YOU ARE AMAZING AND SHOULD BE PAID WAY MORE,) coping with the death of my husband’s sister, polishing my first novel for agent submission, enjoying the visit of my sister and niece, all the while trying to make sense of the insanity we’ve allowed our government to become, has left me spent.

Yet somehow, today, when I hung out with my three year old niece, life felt special. It felt good. 

And that was all her.

It was like she picked up on my feeling down a bit and for the first time, came to me without me having to ask. She comforted me and all around enjoyed my company, when before she was a bit hesitant. And when I put her to sleep, having a three year old, caress your hand while she falls peacefully asleep in your arms, I felt true serenity.

And I thought:

Children know way more than most give them credit for. And they truly are the future. 

 

 

 

 

The Good Part #coronavirus

Damn. These days, going on social media, reading the news, checking reddit… it’s easy to see the world is on fire right on and I don’t just mean from the Covid spread. I mean the amount of information being disseminated in favor of one’s POV and agenda and the vitriol that comes along with it.

People are speaking as though they are God. Individuals are battling each other over moral beliefs – where there is never a winner – and I’m reading comments like “If you like Trump, you can go drown in a sea of shark infested waters” and “If you don’t wear a mask, I hope you get the coronavirus and die a horrible death” – what the hell is happening to people???

Well, I’ve decided to focus on some good things to come from this world pandemic and I’d like to share them with you, if like myself, you’re over the moralistic agendas of ill-informed individuals trying desperately to get you to agree they are right. I’d like the facts and nothing but, thank you. So here are some facts:

In my apartment building of twelve units, a three year-old girl was celebrating her birthday without her friends and family. Her mother let us know and one by one, all us neighbors began to put cards, gifts, notes, well-wishes on her door and windows, and we came to find out the sweet child had one of her best days ever!

As I bike along the part of the road that is allowed for doing so by the Pacific Ocean (I live three blocks from it) I see signs in the windows of homes that promote positive messages to their community: “Stay Strong” “We’re In This Together” “Love” “Honk And We’ll Drink” :) One window had a teddy bear in it, near a child’s drawing of a rainbow and heart. 

John Krasinski’s “Some Good News” – did you see the cast of the Office dance?? There’s a little something for everyone here and it’s all positive.

On a walk, I see multiple sidewalk murals created from chalk, offering complimentary art to all who walk by. 

More to come…

But in the meantime, I’d love to know what positive things you’ve seen come from the strange times we now find ourselves in?

 

My Little Buddy In The Age Of The Coronavirus

Having been laid off from my job while the world pauses, I’ve found some extra time on my hands. And in an effort to help my family, I’ve begun to aid in the homeschooling of my eight-year-old nephew.

Now, my nephew and I were already close. I’ve been watching him since practically the day he was born and over the years, we’ve developed a special bond. When I enter my brother’s home, my nephew is the first to great me with a huge smile and a loud, “Hi Aunt Tina! Come play!” or “Hi Aunt Tina! Come look at this!”

And while I am 42 years old, there is a young 10-year-old girl in me who loves to play and have fun. Seriously. I’m a champ at Nerf gun battles, hide ‘n find (a take off from the original hide ‘n seek, which my nephews and I made up,) coloring, board games (especially Battleship!) and soon, if my nephews have it their way, video games.

But back to the beginning. I’ve been helping homeschool. And I must say, TEACHERS, YOU ARE GODS. Thank you soooooooooooooooo much for what you do. You help the future way more than any Congressman/woman and should be paid accordingly. And they patience you must have! I am in awe.

So, yeah. I’ve been helping with homeschool and also babysitting more than normal and because of this, an 8 year old has become my new little buddy.

When I told him he could call me whenever he wanted, I began to wake up to text and phone messages asking if I wanted to play Roblox remotely – me on my phone, him at his home while we chat over FaceTime. He made sure to install it on my phone on a visit  and then proceeded to give me a tutorial. When I struggled, he said, “Aunt Tina, do you know what patience is?” I smiled and said, “Yes, I do” to which he replied, “Well, then you just have to have it.”

Words of wisdom right there.

When we finish our school lessons, he asks how much time I can stay to hang out. We are currently watching the first season of Clone Wars, which is very well done btw, and also love to go outside and plant flowers in the backyard and fill our bird house with birdseed and more. His smile brightens my day.

And the last time I was with him, I was doing laundry and he opted to stop playing and join me, just to chat. He told me about his best friend at school and how they get in trouble and the big spider he saw the other day in the backyard, that had hair!

I will miss these days when all goes back to “normal” but I’m happy to know enough to cherish them as they are happening.

To see a big smile on an eight year old’s face is to witness real happiness.

To receive a hug from a child without asking for one is to know real affection.

To make a child happy and comfortable by embracing who they are is to teach real confidence.

To have a child call upon you because they consider you important is to understand the essential.

And to wake up to a phone message from your nephew asking where you are and if you want to come over and you alter your day to do so is to experience real love.

Thank you Fair Bear (my nickname for him,) for all you are and all you teach.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wonders… 5 Ways We Are Changing For The Better From The Coronavirus…

My past few posts have been a bit depressing so I thought for this one I’d write about the ways I am seeing the world change for the better, due to the pandemic at hand.

Sure, we could argue till we’re blue in the face about how this all started, how governments are responding, how people are acting, but seriously, what good would arguing do?

“Love is saying ‘I feel differently’ instead of ‘You’re wrong.’” – Unknown

And as someone who loves difference of opinions because it’s the best way to learn, I am going to ignore that noise and focus instead on some good things I’ve noticed come out of the #coronavirus and well, that’s something to shine a spotlight on, isn’t it?

5 Ways we are changing for the better

We’re so damn clean.
Anyone else notice how sanitized people and things are getting? I mean, how can that be a bad thing? Hand washing and covering your mouth when you sneeze and not breathing on top of people… all wonderful traits that are getting instilled in people as they become routine.

The pause leads to thought.
In a weird way, the world is pausing. The wheels have largely stopped and because of that, what was once the norm is now anything but. We’ve been forced to find a new norm with stay-at-home orders and loss of employment among other things. But with these new limitations, we are led right to an important aspect of our life. Our HOME. If it’s your temple, you’ll take comfort in your design. But if on the flip side, you don’t like what you find, well… isn’t that in itself a gift because now, you see it as it is and can do something about it? When one is busy, it’s way too easy to ignore important things.

We’re learning what’s essential.
By definition, essential means what is absolutely necessary. And we are learning what that is! In a world filled of an abundance of distraction, eye candy and material goods, this lesson is not one to be taken for granted. It’s a gift to be able to stop, see what one really needs, and then progress from there to form a healthier state of being. And isn’t it interesting to find out what you do really need, when all bling and glitz and distraction is removed?

Gaining awareness of what teacher’s do and how grossly underpaid they are.
Full disclosure, I have no children by choice. But I am seeing those who do have children, are getting a big taste of what teachers actually do and how incredibly challenging it is to teach children. Perhaps now people will think about where state money should go (not with words, but with actual action and legislation) as the importance of this position has been elevated and revealed for all to witness. Education does not have pharmaceutical lobbyists but imagine if it did….

Letting nature breathe.
Sadly, it had to be forced upon us by a global virus, but a ray of light through this storm is the fact nature has been allowed to do as she would without our massive intervention. The environment is not infinite, despite what the 1980s/90s thought. And allowing it a chance to reset, enjoy itself without our intrusion and just breathe a sigh of relief to be allowed to do so, is perhaps the very best gift this pandemic has given us. Has given the world. And well, that’s pretty damn good.

What positive observations have you observed? #coronavirus

 

Tuesday Thinking… Where We Are At #Coronavirus

I’ve been thinking a lot about where the world is at. Face masks. Self-Isolation. Quarantine. (there is a difference!) Social Distancing. Non-essential businesses closing to stop the spread. The spread of something that started with an animal in China. And what do we learn? So little… And what comes… the typical bashing of Trump (ignoring what Congress is doing,) being angry at China and going to the extremes based on emotion rather than logic.

Perhaps this will be controversial to say but someone has to say it:

The government is the problem.

Yes, it’s easy to say Trump should have done this, China should have done that… but if you study the past fifty or so years, the timeline builds to this. Capitalism never having a chance with corporate welfare and insane backhanded deals. Congress making loads off the people, not only through their insider knowledge (which they declared was okay to have… of course they did!) but with making sure their lobbyists and those with money were set BEFORE the people.

This is simply a consequence revealing itself in times of distress… Remember what happened when the banks/stock market screwed themselves? The government to the rescue! Man… it could have gone such another way in America.

Sigh.

But… I do believe the virus is targeting those who allowed this… think about it. Children are barely affected…. THANK GOD, BUDDHA, ALLAH, etc….

I know this is a time of pandemic. But one has to ask… if we truly had a government of the people, by the people, would we have come to this? And why is the wealth so concentrated among BIG BUSINESS and GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS? Will it take this devastation to return to our constitution…? To a government meant for the people, not the elites who declared themselves so?

And if that is the case, could that be the silver lining in all of this?