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