Subjects labeled ‘urgent’ in bold, with exclamation points, and asterisks everywhere, flooded my work inbox, filled with unread messages, while I frantically scoured through my personal inbox.  At six o’clock in the morning, my three children chanted “we want snacks,” while I read through the weekly assignments for the parents of kids in online school.

Each one started off with, “Below is a lot of information. Much of it is VERY IMPORTANT. Be sure to read the entire message.” Followed by broken links, inaccurate passwords, and parents replying all, made me feel like I was in an escape room. I would have to solve a labyrinth, algorithm, and mental health checkpoints to be able to come out of the email chains unscathed.

Closing in on the end of the semester, I thought I was seeing a light at the end of the dark tunnel. Had I made it? The email subject: “grades,” addressed to me by name, confirmed all of the hard work I had done. It judged me as a parent. My involvement. My dedication.  The grade would stand out in bold- serving as a lesson, to us both. “Your child is receiving an F in P.E. on their report card.” I failed?  I told my eight-year-old daughter she could hike, run, skate, jump rope, bike, or set up an obstacle course in lieu of sitting in front of the computer, for an hour, during PE and her report card highlighted my judgment as a failure.

Any other time, I would have shown my concern at a parent-teacher conference.  This year, however, I just added it to update my list of  19 reasons why 2020 can still eat a bag of dicks.

  1. Nine months into the pandemic I’m no longer annoyed by the little things; I’m now bothered by EVERYTHING.
  2. A year that should focus on health and learning feels more like “Survivor- the parent edition.”
  3. I am responsible 24/ 7 to manage the survival of four other humans (ages 2, 6, 8 and husband, age 45)
  4. I’ve developed a charter school for which I am in charge of the payroll, communication, liability forms, and health and safety protocol, so 6 children can be in the backyard together on their computers.
  5. I pay a tutor to come watch the kids zoom through their school work, while I rush through my professional work.
  6. Public education is no longer free.
  7. Public education comes at the cost of my job, my sanity, and at a higher price than infant care at a bougie preschool.
  8. The paycheck I receive once a month is a reminder why women are pushed out of the workforce.
  9. My husband told me I’m officially, “the worst listener ever,” yet I wasn’t even offended because I was thinking about what I was going to make for dinner.
  10. I’m stuck in a house with bags of Halloween candy I didn’t even get to earn by walking around the neighborhood.
  11. I can give the candy to my children who are stuck at home or eat it myself.
  12. Espresso is no longer a nicety. It is now a lifeline.
  13. In April I was at my highest weight ever.
  14. My ‘highest weight ever,’ is now my ‘goal weight.’
  15. I haven’t seen humans in so long, I’m not sure I’ll ever want to again.
  16. After waiting nine months to finally get a haircut, my new hairdo looks like a Brazilian wax gone terribly wrong.
  17. I’m now relieved I won’t see anyone any time soon.
  18. I was dying to go to yoga and now as gyms open back up I realize, I may actually die from going to yoga.
  19. What should have been a landslide election in the U.S. was way too close, reminding me why 2020 can still eat a bag of dicks.

Jessica Keith is a professional lecturer at San Diego State University.  When she’s not busy saying, “don’t make me repeat myself,” to her young children, she is getting paid to discuss the diverse implications of repeating oneself, teaching Cross-Cultural Communication. Currently, her favorite pastimes are sitting in a room by herself, and guessing what day of the week it is.


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