I think we all remember the confusing feeling when we realized that the world had plunged into a pandemic. Most of us probably did not realize the extent of the situation we were in, the isolation, the confusing sadness that came with this new reality. I remember waking up in the mornings during the first few days of everything closing down and taking a sleepy few minutes to digest that today was yet another day of not leaving the house. It was heavy.

It became clear a few days in that my focus would be on keeping my 11 year old son occupied. I actually quite enjoyed creating a “home school” schedule for him, and I spent every night creating a study plan and a schedule for the next day, e-mailing it to him with links to resources. 

Day 1 e-mail reads: "Poskins, for the first day of home learning I want you to spend 30 minutes on math, watch an author illustrator video, and then do 30 minutes of reading.  We should probably do the reading while in the stander.  Ok?

I will send you an e-mail every day with that day’s school work.

1. This is a great math website you can try out.  Solve problems for reward points.


2. How about some drawing and learning how to write and illustrate picture books?  This guy is offering lessons every day during the quarantine.  So cool!  You know some of his books.  


3. 30 minutes of reading

If you want to see all the subjects you can work on, click this link.   


Good work sweetie!


I thought the above schedule was going to be very doable, but my goodness did I underestimate the toll this bizarre new reality was already taking on my pre-teen’s sense of normalcy. I can’t say I remember the exact details of the first day’s failures, but I do remember both of us screaming about YouTube access for 11 year olds, remembering passwords, how to access Google Drive … and yeah, I am pretty sure most of you parents were there too. Here is what the Day 2 e-mail revealed.

Day 2 e-mail reads: "Alright Poskins, I know we got off to a slightly rough start on Day 1 of Homeschooling, but how about we take a deep breath and have a better Day 2!

Today we will continue with Khan Academy for Math, and now that you know to pay closer attention to the instructions, read them well before answering each question, I know you will do just fine.  Deep breaths Oskieposk, you can do this :)  Today you will do the unit test for the quizzes you did yesterday.

I think we should also continue with the fun illustration videos, but first me and you will do the Scribble Challenge from the first episode.  Does that work for you?

Today we are also introducing the Writing Room.  Spend 20-30 minutes writing about the photograph I have attached in this e-mail, by answering the questions in assignment number 4. 

Here we go!

1. MATH - Finish this 13 question unit test on everything you practiced yesterday.  

2. Scribble Challenge with mamma.  That’s me!  We will play two rounds with each of us taking a turn for each round.

3. Draw Every Day with JJK - episode 2.  Have fun!

4. Writing Room - write about this photograph using the prompts below."
The author at around age 13, sitting at a table in her grandmother's summer cottage, probably doodling.  Her grandmother's flower porch is  shining in the background.
The author at around age 13, sitting at a table in her grandmother’s summer cottage, probably doodling. Her grandmother’s flower porch is shining in the background.
The end of the e-mail reads: "- What do you imagine about the person you are looking at?
- What do you think they are looking at?
- What do you imagine them doing the day the picture was taken?
- What do you imagine them doing today?
- What do you think about their clothes?
- Ask them three questions.
- Tell them three things.

Love you my Oskins xxxx


For sure it took another couple of days to get into a groove, but the most fun assignment I gave my son was to watch Draw Every Day With JJK. It led to us doodling together, coloring together, something we used to do a lot during my chemo days, and was something that helped us breathe and enjoy the calm of the simple moments.

Soon I started to feel the need to do more with my doodles, and as we watched governors and authority figures be regulars on our TV screen at news conferences, telling us all the latest Covid news, I started to become pretty fascinated with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s demeanor. He seemed so relaxed and so calm, like he had been waiting for this moment to shine in a time of turmoil. He seemed like the voice of reason we needed to hear. Little did we know 🙄 Regardless, I still feel that his down to earth press briefings helped me get through these first few days and weeks. So I doodled him, sort of a study in demeanor, perhaps part alien, part calm, part overwhelm, for sure tribal. Isn’t that sort of how many of us felt?

A doodle portrait of Governor Andrew Cuomo, expressing his inner tribal self.
Doodle portrait of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

My nephew Jay Devon was a particular fan of my pandemic doodles, he would print them out to color them, and I couldn’t think of a sweeter compliment. Here are some of the other faces I found interesting during this time, plus a couple of random doodles that were requested of me. Can you guess the faces?