- Jesse Brubaker
"Virtually Lost" At School
Updated: Jan 23, 2021
As parents of three kids attempting to tackle kindergarten, preschool and second grade, it’s about all we can do to not throw in the towel this year. The cacophony of sound from multiple devices, kids refusing to mute and yelling, and our tiny dog barking is a comedy show each day. Each of our kids has different needs and abilities, and I’m inadequately trained to do all but the simplest school activities with them. I only have to manage the chaos of virtual school one day per week, but it’s humbling every time. Often I can’t get signed on, and I question how much my kids are actually learning in this environment.
From the sensory barrage that is a tidal wave, one thing I do know they are learning is how to deal with adversity.
Unlike our Heavenly Father, as parents, we aren’t endowed with omnipotent knowledge on virtual meetings, math, or craft projects. In times like these, our deficiencies become sharply clear as we are exposed. Unfortunately, kids often view our struggles as a complete breakdown of their parents sovereignty. They are used to us having the answers. I’m sure every parent has the memory of realizing their own parents inability to adequately provide. In that moment, a veil has been torn in their childhood reality. What a hard reality for a kid to try and understand, but we shouldn’t try and shield them from the fact we are human. But within this new reality are a few teachable moments, the dreaded teachable moment!
SO WHAT’S A REGULAR DAD LIKE ME SUPPOSED TO DO IN THESE SITUATIONS?
It’s a common trope that “more is taught than caught” with kids, and we know every child is watching their parents with a careful eye at all times. This brief window of time we are in virtual school allows my children see what their Dad’s true super power is: not giving up when things get hard. This is something we often talk about, but being totally out of my areas of competency forces me to put my lectures into action. Woe to the parent who has loaded their teaching with finger wagging one liners like “patience is a virtue!” or “You will thank me one day!” as turn about may be fair play when the kids have you in the fetal position on the floor out of desperation. Even when we (the parental units) are on the ropes, our kids always rally when they see us make a comeback. Raising children with disabilities, you are preparing them for the additional hurdles they will always have to contend with. So show up, and dig in. It’s OK to let them know you are struggling, ask them to pray with you and seek God’s help. Jesus prepared his disciples in how to pray.
PRAYER IS A POWERFUL WEAPON, AND I DON’T ASK MY KIDS TO USE IT ENOUGH. AS MY KIDS AND I STRUGGLE, IT OFTEN SEEMS TO PUT A WEDGE BETWEEN US (PARENT/CHILD), BUT IF WE CAN SEE OUR ISSUE AS SOMETHING TO FIGHT TOGETHER, WE GROW IN STRENGTH. NOT ONLY DO WE KNOW THAT THIS HELPS OUR CHILDREN COPE WITH ISSUES, IT’S ALSO A SCRIPTURALLY SOUND PRACTICE.
Matthew 18:20 talks about how Jesus is with us when two or more are gathered in his name. Although this verse is regarding sin, don’t let a struggle between you and your child become the “sin.” Call out the adversity together, large or small. This isn’t about shifting blame, but just being real and admitting “we can’t get the iPad to work, AGAIN, and yes I’ll write an email to the teacher letting them know we were trying.” It’s often in this critical moment where I get a chance to shine in teaching about perseverance. My child is putting their faith in me and for a brief moment I have their full attention, so how do you consciously or unconsciously respond to the struggle?
Jesus set such an amazing example of patience and reserved strength in the face of adversity. Even in his hardest challenges, he rose to the occasion to set things right and speak truth (think of his temptations by satan in the wilderness). His approaches were infinitely clever, and in addition to loving people fully, his secondary tactics were never the same (think of all the interactions with Pharisees). There were many circumstances that Jesus encountered that were less than favorable, and often people were actively trying to trip him up or prove him wrong. And in all this, he was leading with love by making time to teach lessons to his disciples. That is the way we need to approach overcoming adversity with our children. Not despite the hardships we face, but because of them. Often on my virtual school days I feel as though I’m on the verge of my own temper tantrum, and having my kids see me walk back from that ledge is a powerful message. We all fall short of the example Jesus set for us, but if I’m leading with love and showing them the struggles of this world are no match for His provision, that is a win. Sometimes they don’t work out the way we planned, but that’s OK. We get extra recess because we don’t get this blessing of quality time back. Then, like magic, the iPad connects to the meeting, which can only be attributed to divine intervention.
Written by Jesse Brubaker
JESSE BRUBAKER IS A FATHER OF 3 LITTLE LADIES AND MARRIED TO NAOMI BRUBAKER. HE LOVES FOOD, AND IS ESPECIALLY SKILLED AT MAKING HUGE MESSES IN THE KITCHEN. HE GREW UP ON A SMALL FAMILY RUN CHRISTMAS TREE FARM IN CENTRAL VIRGINIA & IS NOW A COMMISSIONED MISSIONARY WORKING TOWARD MOVING TO FRANCE TO HELP BRING THE GOSPEL TO EUROPE.