A lot of sweet ideas for keeping kids occupied during the coronavirus lockdown have been making the rounds online: lovely and wholesome activities you could try with your little ones, full of joy at the prospect of spending quality time with your nearest and dearest.
That was before we had to start home-schooling. It's all well and good to take a break from the intense scheduling of modern life, but trying to teach multiplication?
You, who can barely get your child to pick up a sock, are going to have to ask them to sit down quietly, get out a pencil and paper, and show them how to carry the one, cross out the nine, throw out the 10, bring back the one, sit down please. Just breathe.
It’s not going to be pretty, but fortunately parents are already taking refuge in the best (or worst) thing to have emerged from 21st-century schools: WhatsApp groups.
Here are some of the best memes going around.
Aspirations versus reality
A lot of the memes show the gulf between aspirations for parenting and the reality. In the below, in the left-hand column, you’ll see your goals for the day. Maybe this is where you are now, looking at First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s fort-making post as Instagram inspiration. But no one can lie to themselves indefinitely: we’ll all end up on Friday with the children glued to Netflix 24/7, sweet wrappers strewn about them.
Others focus on the farcical nature of parents trying to teach children. Let’s all say it together, one last time: “Teachers are amazing human beings and we could never do what they do!” This will be the refrain of the next few months.
Working from home
Other memes look at the strained situation of working from home – which is already difficult – while faced with the task of simultaneous childcare.
This seems like a simple and effective solution.
This one refers to the best moment of television in the last half century: the diabolically wonderful demonstration of what it is really like to work from home. If you are one of the 2 per cent of the world’s population who has not seen it, you are in for a treat. During an interview for the BBC about the security situation in the Koreas, the interviewee’s professional veneer is ripped apart by his merrily flouncing children and the frantic efforts of his wife to contain them. A truer image has never been given, as we realise there's no need to despair at the idea of an impending apocalypse, because working from home with kids is already it.
Other memes offer cold-blooded appraisals of what it actually means to spend “quality time as a family” (or not).
Maybe The Shining will be the analogy of choice for your self-isolation in the weeks ahead?
This one says advice stipulates avoiding all kisses, hugs and signs of affection, so married couples should carry on as normal. I like it not because it in any way describes my very successful, fully functioning marital relationship – which I am sure will be a model of love and affection for the ages – but because no one does social isolation better than the betrothed.