Dubai's Desperate Housewife

Trials and traumas of a full-time mum in Dubai

COVID-19 Distance-learning: Day 1

with 6 comments

As someone who usually works from home in absolute silence, I’m finding it #interesting to have at home a 10-year-old (‘Leave me alone; I know what I’m doing’ / ‘Mummy, how do I do this? Mummy help!’) and a 14-year-old whose lessons from her school in the UK don’t begin till 1pm (‘Mummy. I’m going to make the whipped coffee off Tik Tok this morning… it’s fine, I know what I’m doing. Where’s the instant coffee? Where’s the whippy thing? Can you just film me doing this? Oh, and what’s for lunch?’).

Today DS was supposed to log in for a video chat from his teacher at 9am before starting lessons. We’ve had two weeks to prepare for this moment… but have we prepared? I’ll just say he’s a 10-year-old boy and park that there.

On the timetable: Maths, English, Social Studies, Spanish, PE, ‘optional tasks’ (the spirit shrivels – oh, how the spirit shrivels at the word ‘optional’) and 20 minutes of reading.

‘I’ll be ready at 8.50,’ DS said at 8.30, sprawled on the sofa with his Nintendo Switch glued to his face. He’s just made Level 70 of Fortnite, which meant he could get a new skin – the gaming equivalent of getting ‘Star of the Week’. I should have known not to tell him to get up and clean his teeth.

At 8.57am, DH buggered off to work before I even managed to say ‘Is that really necessary?’, and DS was still swanning about the world of Fortnite in his fancy new skin instead of sitting, poised, ready and logged-in, at the workstation I’d set up for him at the dining table.

There was shouting. I’ll own it.

But then something strange happened. DS logged in. Grouchily, he got out a book and burrowed about among the stale remnants of long deceased packed lunches that live at the bottom of his school bag to find a pencil. He did the maths. It was easy! He did the English. Even easier! He even did the extension! Glory be! This may actually work!

I wasn’t so lucky with my own work. While what I do is not ‘serious’ in the way that the work of, say, first responders, is, it does involve a lot of thinking. Thinking that usually gets done in silence but today was punctuated with: ‘Mummy, how do I upload it?’; ‘Mummy is this right? Mummy, why don’t you know? I thought you knew everything!’; ‘Mummy, look at my Shakespeare answers!’; ‘Mummy, how many kilometres in a mile? Can I have a snack?’

By 12pm, not only had my phone had pinged itself off the desk with a hailstorm of Seesaw updates from teachers and DS’s classmates but I’d developed a nervous twitch from DS appearing behind me in the door brandishing the iPad, then it was time for the daily PE video: 40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest; eight exercises; two rounds. I joined DS to do it in the family room… I’m fit. I managed. Better than the PE teacher, if I’m honest, but then she was doing it outdoors and I suppose it was quite warm…

So – Day 1 and I’d give us an 8/10 for success. But I fear for my own work still lying, undone, on my desk. I fear for the never-ending piles of house admin that constantly need attention; I’m nervous about the strange patch of damp that’s appeared on the ceiling above my desk; I fear for how distance-learning will continue when the novelty’s worn off – and I haven’t even dared remind DS he still has homework to do.

At the moment we’re reading:

DS: Land of Stories (Book 2) – The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

Me: Those People by Louise Candlish (it’s a great book but I warn you now, I’m a slow reader)

Phrase of the day:

‘Mummy, how do I do this? Mummy, go away!’

The damp patch: not looking good, is it?

6 Responses

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  1. A new post! It’s a quarantine miracle! So great and hope we hear more from you going forward – I moved to the UAE then sadly left in the time since your last post in 2015, but am always up for a hit of whatever consists of reality in Dubai 😉


    March 22, 2020 at 3:46 pm

  2. I was so happy to read your new blog!


    March 22, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    • Thank you for reading! I know it’s been a long time coming… X


      March 22, 2020 at 8:29 pm

  3. Thank you. Received a mail from you after years!
    What a pleasant read. And to know we’re all in the same boat.
    What treat at a time like this. I just assumed you’d been given a book deal or you were running the country in secret 😂


    March 23, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    • Well… that’s a story for another day! Thanks for sticking with me 🤗


      March 23, 2020 at 9:52 pm

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