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Marny Stebbins.

If the Internet was a boxer, I’d be out of front teeth.

Its been 202 days since the Minnesota stay-at-home order was issued, which means, I am currently on round 202 with our internet connectivity. I am meat.

Broken-nosed, swollen-eyed, spitting incisors, tired. I need more than a handful of smelling salts and a smear of Vaseline to reenter the ring with any amount of optimism. Every day is a new round of the same punches come from this heavyweight.

“Buffering is my least favorite word,” offered my 10-year-old daughter. “It’s the opposite of buffet. You wait and wait for a single thing to appear.”

Teachers, I’m going to go ahead and count this food analogy as a homeschool success, as it may not happen again. But if it does, we are probably counting the number of brownies that fit evenly in an 8 by 8 pan (Answer: 2).

To be fair, our needs are super-sized. We have four kids in three schools learning remotely and “playing” remotely. We have two parents working remotely and drinking remotely. At first, we patiently made calls to the cable company (i.e. listened to three plus hours of acoustic jazz medleys). Next, we tried purchasing Wi-Fi boosters, but alas, no confidence or productivity was boosted.

We even tried changing passwords and assigning specific Wi-Fi hours. This made the adults in the house feel temporarily important but in the end, utterly defeated as we were unable to successfully complete any work amidst the constant banter of password whining. And one of the adults, ahem, was unable to remember the ever-changing 27-character password. I now understand the logic behind primitive passwords like “password.” Higher risk, but less swearing.

Truth be told, there is not enough Wi-Fi in all of God’s great kingdom to keep our family screen satisfied.

We have routers. And repeaters. And Cables and Dishes, and still, we remain, victim to the sadistic, slow moving circle on the loading screen. After two minutes of watching the circle churn, my blood begins to boil and I revert to the tactics of a passive aggressive middle school student, i.e. ridicule.

Or maybe just openly aggressive.

“I kind of want to punch Connie in the face,” I say out loud like a hormonal bully in a beach volleyball game. This big, hairy threat is in full ear shot of all four of my children.

Let me just note, hearing your mom announce she wants to punch someone in the face is, justifiably, noteworthy to my children, both out of fear and straight up curiosity.

There is a quick scan |

of the room before one brave child whispers, “Who’s Connie?”

“That’s what I’ve

started to call our feeble Internet. ‘Connie’ – is short for connectivity, kind of like she’s short

on performance.”

It’s a long, long stretch. But somehow it legitimizes my frustration.

The kids nod slowly and retreat to the kitchen for their fourth snack since lunch as they feel responsible to finish off the daily spicy Cheez-Its.

I’m pretty sure that’s not what “responsible snacking” refers to, but we are going to count this as another homeschool win!

This is not easy. Any of it. School and home and especially, the homeschool element of this year is pretty darn challenging. There are days I feel we are regressing instead of growing (like every time I visit the downstairs bathroom) and there are days I fear my efforts are causing more frustration than support.

I miss just being their Mom. Not the teacher and nurse and enforcer and, God-forbid, tech support. Somedays, I just want to be the hug.

I know this is selfish. I know parenting is so much bigger than the hugs. Parenting is the listening to the middle school drama with a straight face.

Parenting is digging the Gatorade bottle and socks out of the sofa cushions. Parenting is mastering the volume, tone, and cadence of your voice when all you want to do is scream. Parenting is celebrating lost teeth and newly

discovered passions.

It is taking temperatures in the middle of the

night, sleeping with a cell phone, kissing a soldier goodbye, falling asleep in a rocking chair, coaching bruised egos, soothing anxious students, saying “yes” to more pizza, demanding one piece of broccoli, and advocating for real-world change. Parenting absorbs the day to day punches … for years.

The most successful message we received from Netflix this week was: “We are having trouble right now finding your selection. Please try again later.”

All we can do is keep trying.

Connie: 202

Me: Also, 202

Connection is larger than connectivity.

Watch your back, Connie. I’ll be back for another round.

Marny Stebbins lives in Stillwater with her husband and four children. She is a staunch believer in early bedtimes, caffeine enhancement and humor therapy.

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