Holy Cross College, Ellenbrook
'I came that they may have life, and have it to the full' John 10:10

Lessons of Lockdown Not to be Lost

During the move to alternate modes of learning to assist in minimising the spread of the Coronavirus, and especially learning from home, I have heard some amazing and heart-warming stories of families re-connecting and forging new and stronger bonds between parents and their children.

Probably because teachers have been providing take home learning packs in zip-lock bags; “my child has been walking around the house collecting all kinds of things and putting them into zip-lock bags!”

A mother’s first thoughts about schooling from home: “This could be fun. I always wondered what it would be like to home school.” By day two the mother had the answer: “So help me God, move your foot away from your brother’s cereal bowl or I’ll find a school somewhere in this country and drive us there.”

“My husband has been making pancakes and eggs for breakfast every morning and my kids are becoming accustomed to a standard that I am not prepared to maintain when my husband goes back to work.”

A parent phoned her child’s school to talk to the teacher and with some ire in her voice accused the teacher of lying to her time and time again; “You lied to me. You said my child was a pleasure to teach and I am telling you that is simply not true.”

A particular activity that some teachers favour is drawing on the pavement with chalk. One parent embraced this teaching strategy drawing in very large letters; “Save me from my kids!”

One parent fed up with the kids barging in while they were working from home found a novel and effective way to stop the kids from coming in and interrupting his teleconferences by hanging a pair of his underpants on the door knob. Simple, but effective.

A mother trying to home school her nine-year old daughter hit the nail on the head when she said, “It’s funny when I have no idea what she is doing and I have had to Google to learn. I fear she may be home schooling me! But, hey we are having fun together and learning together.”

A mother created a list of rules for learning from home. Rule Number Two; Do you keep going to the refrigerator at school. Umm, no. so use your school stomach!

A parent was asked how she was coping with the students learning from home. She replied “I’ve put the kids in the freezer, so everything’s cool now.”

Learning from home is going well, “I suspended two students for fighting”.

A tweet by a parent said, “been home schooling the kids since 9:00 am. It’s now 9:08 am and I’m starting to look forward to the holidays.”

One father reflected, “before the Coronavirus, when I left home, my kids were still sleeping and when I got home they were already in bed. I really cherish these two weeks to exclusively spend time with my children”.

“I have really enjoyed learning from home with my children. Working from home, not being able to travel or visit friends and family has forced me to spend time with my kids in a way that I have never really done before. Singing, dancing, playing in the yard, doing maths and reading stories together, cooking and watching TV, but above all, talking and getting to know and understand each other better. We gossip, talk news and politics, tell my childhood stories, make up tales and listen to their dreams and wishes.”

Possibly the most rewarding vocation in society is the role of parent. The exhilaration of child birth and the excitement of starting a family is a profound experience that is complicated by the fear of not quite knowing what to do with a beautiful, but helpless bundle of joy. We do learn as we go, on the job.

The time brought about by the Coronavirus lockdown measures has enabled all of us, parents and teachers alike, to rethink and re-imagine how we inter-relate and connect with our children and how we can better help them to learn. As we begin to move back to full attendance at school we should not let the things we learned from this experience disappear. We must continue to talk, sing, dance, pray, play, read, do maths, cry, fail and succeed together. Use the opportunity reflect on what is important in life, and that is being with and growing with our children. There is no panacea for good parenting, but if there was it would be spending time with your children talking, learning and playing together.

A fundamental belief in Catholic education is that parents are the first and most important educators of their children. As parents, we must be active educators nurturing all aspects of human development: spiritual, emotional, social, physical and intellectual. What we do and say has a significant impact on our children. I often tease parents with the saying “Scratch the kids and see the parents”. Our children are carbon copies of ourselves.

When we look beneath the surface of our students at Holy Cross College we see a group of wonderful young people full of energy and spirit. I would like to congratulate all of our parents for the fantastic job you do with your children, especially during these challenging times.

A Rabbi once wrote, ” God created oysters with the capacity to transform an irritating piece of sand into a pearl, this serves as a model for us – every trial contains precious jewels which we can find and develop”. Parents are the oysters that transform the grittiness of childhood into wonderful gems of adulthood.

During troubled times we can draw inspiration from the Holy Family. The Holy Family of Nazareth, Jesus, Mary and Joseph are put before us by the Church as a model for our families. We call them “The Holy Family” but that does not mean that they did not have problems. Just as every family has to face problems and overcome them, or to put it another way, has to carry a cross, so also The Holy Family had to carry crosses. Their many crosses come to mind as we read the Scriptures. Mary herself had it very rough early in the pregnancy when Joseph was planning to divorce her before the angel intervened in a dream. When the time for Jesus’ delivery came it took place in an animals’ shelter since Bethlehem was already so crowded. Then the family had to flee to Egypt as refugees because Jesus’ life was in danger due to Herod, in much the same way as refugees from war-torn countries are now seeking a home in Australia. Mary and Joseph suffered the awful experience of losing Jesus for three days when he was twelve years old and the only satisfaction they got from him was that he had to be about his Father’s business. There was the growing hostility to Jesus by the Jewish authorities that must have caused huge pain to both Mary and Joseph, especially as it became increasingly obvious that Jesus would have to pay for his mission by dying. The saddest moment of all came when Mary watched her son die on the cross. Just as the Holy Family survived all its crises through love for each other and faith in God we, too, will conquer all difficulties through the love we have for each other and our faith in God.

We often look to Mother Mary as a pillar of strength, especially in troubled times. We love our own mothers for their capacity to reassure us and give us confidence during difficult and challenging times. This weekend is Mother’s Day. This is our opportunity to show our Mum’s how much we love them and cherish the things they do for us. To all the Mothers and Grandmothers of Holy Cross College, I wish you God’s blessing and hope that you are suitably spoilt on Mother’s day and always.