Hi, it’s me, the mom of an under-five-year-old overtired, under-stimulated, homeschooled, unvaccinated monster child currently using his chubby little fingers to pick off small pieces of colored tape I put on the floor because some Montessori Mom Instagram account said this would distract him long enough for me to take a conference call from the hallway closet about that super important work thing I haven’t been able to get to in three years, while my husband asks what we’re “doing” this weekend.
Yeah. You know me.
I semi-quit my job only to end up working the same hours at increasingly unreasonable times (for less pay!). I squatted with our in-laws, shoved a Peloton up my ass, and shotgunned YouTube tutorials about how to sew a mask. I planned backyard birthday parties and disinvited that trolling uncle from Thanksgiving against my mom’s wishes only to end up right back here staring down the barrel of Omicron’s venom-style takeover and a collective system-wide shrug of “Well, I guess we’re all gonna get this thing anyway” defeat.
So, here’s where I’m at: I’m building a boat, stocking it with cranky boarding school principals, putting my child on it, and floating it out to shark-infested waters. Once it sets sail, I’m taking a nap, restarting a skincare regime, and putting on skinny jeans. You want in?
Honestly, I should’ve thought of boarding school years ago. What mom wouldn’t ship their child away to be raised by fetishizing strangers from sunrise to sunset? It’s better than waiting for schools to shut down for widely unpredictable timeframes that force my husband and me to discuss who will take Monday off again like two FBI hostage negotiators overemphasizing your first name. What’s going on, Adam? Oh, we both have a 10 a.m. meeting we can’t miss, Adam? Let’s stay on the phone, Adam. Don’t do anything crazy, Adam. When we took our vows, we didn’t agree to be quarantined in an escape room with a screaming pint-sized terrorist that swallowed all the clues and can speak only in five-word sentences, Adam. But not with boarding school! Now there’s reliable around-the-clock childcare that isn’t some au pair who keeps eating the expensive yogurt!
Now, a standard campus of Ivy-shrouded towers and lacrosse fields isn’t protection against disease, and that’s where the sharks come in. Sharks! A school on a boat surrounded by sharks means nobody goes in or out. No more random indoor playdates with asymptotic siblings that set off frantic contact tracing phone trees. No more teachers showing up on Monday after someone sneezed on them at the grocery store. You ever hear of a shark getting COVID? NO! Sharks will eat COVID for freaking breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yes, that also means any visiting parents risk being eaten alive by sharks, but when you start missing your kid and get the urge to take a swim, just remember the time he walked in on you in the bathroom and was so upset you wouldn’t come play that he knocked your phone into the toilet and then you fished it out. You can hug him when he’s seventeen, vaccinated, and finished with puberty, because that’s how long it’ll take to squash this monkey-bred, bat-spit-festering, lab-grown, pestilence level virus from the middle ages.
Plus, he will be floating somewhere in nature without Wi-Fi. Real wildlife! I mean, some sharks, but mostly nature. No more screens! No more begging to re-watch Blippi bouncing to questionable lyrics about “hole investigators.” No more shoving an iPad into his grimy paws and being relieved but also alarmed at his tech fluency. Instead, he will be surrounded by a permanent network of playmates he can touch, hug, and tag. He will never again have to wonder why he can’t have circle time with his friends. He won’t have to throw tantrums because he’s also sick of watching your exhausted face alternate between crying, laughing, yelling, and then crying again. He won’t have the small normalcy of his little life disrupted over and over again in an unceasing unpredictable spiral.
And when, after you’ve wrestled him to sleep, swallowed your fifth glass of wine, and read this essay while revenge procrastinating from the looming worries about whether this is hurting him, whether your marriage is failing, whether your seven-day headache is cancer, whether you’re drinking enough water, whether you are enough for all the people that need you to be something—know that everyone, everywhere, on this entire burnt-out planet feels exactly the same way. And despite the massive raging shitstorm we are facing, we are still in this thing, and if you can watch my kid long enough for me to get through this YouTube video, I swear to god, I will build this motherfucking boat for all of us.