I’m a B.C. public school parent, three times over. And as such, I should be simply exhausted from the unfair struggles handed to me courtesy of this strike.
You must have heard that by now. I know I sure have.
Yes, if reports and advertisements are to be believed, my work is suffering because I’ve been terrified to leave my children at home. You know, they just may get kidnapped or burn down the neighbourhood. Besides, I’ve been emotionally paralyzed, unable to properly parent with our schedule so thrown off course. I’ve been left throwing my hands up in the air and wondering what I to do with these people who insist on calling me mother.
Oh, come on. Who is really buying that?
Most of us parents are a bit more resourceful than we’ve been painted. A few extra chores, some family projects, online resources and our own home library have kept our house afloat so far, and we’ll dig our oars a little deeper the longer this strikes runs.
Now, I know my situation is not necessarily the same as yours, dear reader. I know that there are families who are really and truly inconvenienced by the B.C. teacher’s strike. My heart goes out to parents of small children, running between home, school, daycare and work. I was there not so long ago. But I can’t count myself in that group today, not this time around. And I’m assuming I’m not alone.
You see, my children are in middle and high school. These are young-but-capable people who can look after themselves for hours at a time, who cook and clean at acceptable levels, and who even get some reading, writing and arithmetic done before I get home from work most days, even while school is in session. My kids are even smart enough to have magically hardwired an infallible tattle-tale system directly into my cell phone, and they test it often. So, if anything were amiss, I’m confident I would hear about it before the neighbours did.
On this point, I’m sure I’m also not alone.
So no, I’m not feeling inconvenienced at all. I’m lucky to be going through this particular strike action with older children, flexible hours, and the knowledge that we’ve come through this before and survived. My oldest son will graduate this year. Like most grads of 2015, he became a student in 2002; strike action has become as inconvenient to his generation as a case of the hiccups — you know you’ll get them, you just don’t know when they’ll start and when they’ll stop. However, he and many of his friends have hit the financial jackpot within this strike, turning summer jobs into full time gigs.
And, as of Monday, I’m among the majority of eligible parents who have already ‘earned’ $200 in cash from the government. Money that I’ll likely split between college funds, but is intended to help pay for the struggles associated with the lack of schooling for my youngest son.
But let’s be honest; those struggles are not mine. I will make it through this labour strife untouched. But that cannot be said for my kids, who have now lost three weeks of school and are set to lose this one as well. One son is anxious to finish up Grade 12 and move along into his chosen trade. Another son has dug his toes into the sand over homeschooling assignments, wondering what good online worksheets will do without a teacher to actually teach him.
And finally, there’s my youngest son, who was so eager to leave elementary school behind. A boy who has yet to choose an instrument for band class, to outfit his first-ever locker, to figure out his bell schedule, and to enjoy every other rite of passage September usually brings.
They’ll never get this learning time back, and that’s the real struggle.
– Jessica Peters is the editor of the Agassiz Harrison Observer.