Feeling Cranky?

I am. The past five months have challenged us all: pandemics, losses, injustices, riots, rage, quarantines, unemployment, economic shame, raging disunity, and confusion. Often, it’s hard to know what’s going on, and most of the time you don’t know what to say that won’t offend someone. So, we wait and hope someone somewhere will fix it.

And we wait.

While the crises persist, we at least looked forward to our children going back to school to regain some normalcy and routine—albeit with masks, classroom lunches, and social distancing. Even my kids are begging to go back, which is a first for them!

Today my school district announced in-person school would not happen as they presented their “remote” learning or “online” learning options. Scuffles between the community members ensued: “What if I work?” “What do single working mothers do?” “My child has fallen behind and can’t keep up!” “It’s more dangerous to ride the bus than get coronavirus.”

To these objections came the other side: “Don’t you understand how dangerous this virus is?” “The system is trying to keep kids safe!” “What about protecting our teachers?”

In the current and continuing crises that grip our nation, Garry and I are thankful, grateful for the clarity of the revelation that even the most well-meaning systems will fail us.

Amid the arguments, I reached out to school principals, special education instructors, English-as-a-second-language coaches, and numerous online schools to figure out my options. I have 12 children, and while I enjoyed the Springtime Mother-is-Teacher routine, it is not sustainable for working parents—nor best for some of my children with special needs.

In response, I received emails with links to the district’s website, quotes taken from legal notices, pages of technology instructions, and 40 waivers to fill out (3-4 per child). Only one out of the three principals showed individual care for my concerns. No one had any real answers or solutions, and I felt angry. Angry because I expected them to offer more solutions. Angry because they dropped the ball, and in my case, they dropped it 12 times, once for each of my children.

That’s when it hit me. Anger comes when our expectations are not met, and I expected too much. I expected the school (who used to warn me if my kid was 5-minutes late) would provide a more robust solution during these challenging times. I expected better online resources for special education kiddos. I expected Zoom calls to work and Google classroom assignments to be more easily accessible for the children. I expected them to offer free pods for single working mothers who cannot afford the school system’s fee for school-aged childcare during the “medium spread.” Or at least, if this was not possible, I expected a refund on my taxes that are paying for programs that do not work, so my children can enroll in private school.

But getting angry only revealed the problem in my thinking: I relied on someone else to teach my kids.

While still trying to figure out our plan, one fact became clear: No one else takes care of you and your family—except you. Well-meaning programs and government systems cannot replace the dogged tenacity required to raise your kids, earn your keep, and do some good. It is incumbent upon us—now more than ever—to stop complaining and start solving some problems. We can do it together, supporting each other in teaching pods and community share programs, but make no mistake: It’s up to us.

We must hold ourselves accountable for living meaningful lives–training our children, excelling in our careers, pursuing our health, fighting for positive social change, and supporting others to do the same.

No one else is going to do it for us.

In the current and continuing crises that grip our nation, Garry and I are thankful, grateful for the clarity of the revelation that even the most well-meaning systems will fail us. In most areas of our lives, we choose autonomy and self-determination, loving capitalism, working hard, and fighting for the rescue and healing of our children. We co-op our insurance and try not to rely too much on anyone else. The education of our children was our final area of dependency.

It’s up to us.

But it’s all clear now: we cannot pass off the responsibility of educating our children to anyone else. It’s time to take charge—not only of the education of our kids—but of any areas of our lives where we are waiting for someone else to make change. It’s up to us.

What are you waiting for?

Got some ideas for school options? Let’s talk!

Do Good,


Drs. Garry and Jodi Vermaas

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