Faculty Parents on the Burden of a Disrupted Term

Mercy Olagunju '22, Opinion Editor

Although some countries around the world are starting to ease lockdown restrictions, and people are beginning to return to a sense of normalcy, it is safe to say that summer this year will be different from what we know, and many people will have to adjust their summer plans accordingly. Parents especially, who must take care of their children for the entire summer, will be greatly affected.

So far, both students and parents have had to work or school from the confines of their houses. This work-from-home situation has been tiring, especially for parents with toddlers, preschoolers, or school-aged kids, as they tend to innocently make appearances on Zoom calls and require a lot of attention.

Loomis Chaffee faculty members with young children have had to take up a serious feat in teaching and taking care of the kids. Hopefully, most have set up a schedule with their spouses on who does what chore at a certain time. For example, science faculty member Dr. David Samuels does the shopping and most of the cooking, while his wife Dr. Erica Gerace, also a science faculty member, takes the kids outside to play and spends time with them.

When asked how the past weeks of social isolation have been, Dr. Gerace said, “It’s been really exhausting. I’m awake all day and night because when one [of my kids] is asleep, the other is awake.”

Dr. Gerace is the mother of two daughters: Emilia, and baby Evelyn. With four-month-old Evelyn’s uncertain sleep schedule, Dr. Gerace has found herself awake at odd hours of the day, and that schedule might continue for the rest of summer.

According to Dr. Gerace, out of ten meetings, Emilia will probably crash eight meetings. “She’ll always run in and say hi,” Dr. Gerace said. While it is cute and interesting to see faculty kids appear during classes, it just shows how often toddlers interrupt and distract parents. Yet, they have to keep working or teaching with their kids around them.

In comparison, Associate Dean of Faculty Mr. Adnan Rubai says that his kids, Rafi and Ani, crash about two out of ten meetings. However, most of the distraction comes from their screaming and laughing in the background.

Working parents now have to divide their time to take on some extra responsibility that they would not usually worry about. “There are little things that we normally won’t think about that we’re now thinking about, like preparing lunch. The food part takes a fair amount of our time,” Mr. Rubai said. In addition to feeding, parents have to help their kids stay active and monitor their learning too.

With Rafi’s summer sports camp, Ani’s summer school, and family visits canceled, everyone in Mr. Rubai’s household is staying home for summer. “It’s an opportunity for us to spend some more time together, for better or for worse. There are intense moments, and there are happy moments, and it definitely makes for a busier day,” Mr. Rubai said.

Summer is supposed to be the time people take a break from their normal lives, like vacationing, visiting grandparents that can help take care of the kids, or having a night out with friends while the babysitter watches the kids. However, those ideas don’t seem plausible in the current situation, which means that parents can never catch a break, at least not for the next couple of weeks if not for months.