Earlier today, (It feels like it must have been a different day. But, it was this day.) I had to start to figure out how to really work a full day while my kids did their school stuff, etc.
I put headphones on even though my zoom meeting wasn’t starting yet. It was just so I wouldn’t hear the kids in the other room. I’m not sure what kind of parent this makes me, but it’s what I did, and I need to be honest with you. I could still hear them.
But, I tried to just jump into my real work anyway. I mean, I had 12 whole minutes until my zoom. Surely I could knock something off of my to-do list.
Before the headphones, one of my kids was super curious about what I was doing when he heard me playing a zoom recording someone had sent me
“Are you in a meeting?” he said, peeking over my shoulder.
“No,” I said quickly, trying to ignore my child. There. I’ve said it. This morning began with me trying to ignore my kids, and that is how the day has ended too.
“Play it again!” he said, “I thought someone said, Ona Feinberg!”
So, I finally showed him again and convinced him that it was not what he thought.
Alone, I took a deep breath and started working again, half-listening to the boys talking in the kitchen. This might have been when I realized that it really is hard for me to concentrate when people are making noise around me. So, I put my headphones on, and the “Totally Stress Free” station on Spotify.
Seconds later, he was back.
“Can we make pumpkin muffins?”
Oh. This one was easy. We don’t have any flour. So I said, “We don’t have the ingredients.”
“I’ll check” was the answer as he went to check, and popped back in a minute later.
“No, we don’t have flour,” he said. “So I’ll make pumpkin pie.”
O.M.G. Deep breaths.
Aha! I figured it out. This will stop the baking extravaganza in my freshly cleaned up kitchen! “How will you make the crust?” I challenged. “We don’t have flour or graham crackers or anything like that.”
“Oh, there are ways,” he said like he was in a dramatic movie. Or maybe a soap opera. And he disappeared back into the kitchen.”
“You have my permission to google how you might make the crust, you can’t make anything until you run it by me and right now I have to work,” I yelled after him, and turned my attention back to my computer.
“Okay. So I’ll look it up.”
A minute later, “Okay, I got it. I can start making it now.”
“No! Not yet. Hold on!”
In came the next kid.
“Mama. I want to start a business.” She flopped down into a chair in front of my desk.
I had to laugh. It just came out. Pumpkin pies and businesses. Forget the struggle of working full time and running a home school, I suddenly felt like I was also running a bakery and a business school.
“I mean after the coronavirus is over,” she said.
Deep breaths in, Ona. Deep breaths out.
“Okay, that’s awesome honey. I have a zoom-in like 10 minutes. And work to do before that. Can we maybe talk about your business idea in a little bit? Maybe later today?”
With just a slight pout she started to read instead. So, I went back to work.
But then Mr. Pumpkin Pie chef comes back.
“I’ve figured it out. I can make the crust with crushed ice cream cones and cinnamon Chex.”
“Okay,” I say. And then, because it’s still early, but I already feel like I’ve worked a whole day, I say, “But if there is one speck of mess in the kitchen; if there is one speck of conflict while baking; if the kitchen isn’t cleaner than when you started, you won’t be doing any more baking for the whole pandemic.”
That seemed to go over well, so I turn back to my computer.
But then another kid walked in. (Don’t worry. I only have 3, so my morning slice is almost over.)
“Can you read this from my teacher with me?” he asked. “Can you help me?”
My chef says something from the kitchen that I don’t understand and my daughter says, “He says he’s going to use the food processor to make the crust.”
“You can’t use the food processor while I’m zooming!” I yell. “And my zoom starts in less than 10 minutes!
“Oh,” he says calmly. “I’ll just do it really quickly right now.”
And he does.
(Epilogue: And then the house smells delicious for the rest of the day, he did clean the kitchen, and the pie was delicious, and I did get to my zoom on time, and the next zooms too, and the kids did most of what they were supposed to while I was working, and the house is mostly not a disaster, and I was somewhat successful some of the times I tried to ignore my kids, including the time I spent writing this slice…)