Multiplication. Distraction.

We’re home. Together. Four of us, 
Around the dining room table. Math homework pattern recognition times tables; manuscript
revisions. Team presentations. Multitasking; the schools are doing the best they can.

Battling the wizards. They don’t know
their new game is a math learning app.
Parental screen guilt but can I wring some more work out of this last hour?

One of us is pulling apart an eraser, procrastinating
“Mommy, I need your help. What’s seven times six?”
A text. “Dad went back to the hospital this morning.”

        Deep breath. Text back. How to get there?

“Mama, three-digit subtraction is impossible. IMPOSSIBLE!!”
“Mommy, I need your help RIGHT NOW. Mommmmmy. Aren’t you listening?”

        I look for almonds, to count myself out a portion. Someone has eaten all of them.
News flash. “Conservative leader Erin O’Toole says he won’t support the Throne Speech, opening
the possibility of a fall federal election.”

        In the middle of COVID? Have they lost their minds?
A colleague Slacks me, wondering how my presentation is coming along.
Another text. My mother-in-law has a fever.

        How to persuade her to line up at a testing site? Is she even well enough to go?
“Mommy, what’s 31 minus 11 minus 10?”
News flash. US President Donald Trump has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if 
he loses November's election.
It keeps multiplying.

        I step into the kitchen to pour some wine. We’re out.

© Susan Johnston