If you looked into my house, what would you see? Would you see two children sitting opposite each other at the dining table, quietly doing school work while their mother supports them? You might. And you might think that that was a true reflection of our day to day experience.
If you looked a little closer, I wonder if you would notice that one of the children is wearing ear defenders. Or that the other child's face is so puffed up from crying that they are having to squint to see their work.
Or would you have had the misfortune of glancing into my home half an hour ago? You might have seen one child rocking in their chair, pleading with the other to be quiet and let them work. You might have caught a glimpse of the other child running in and out of the workspace in full meltdown, screaming and raging because they can't have a screen until they are clean, fed and have done their work. It's possible that you might have seen their mother losing the plot completely and shouting herself horse as a chair has been swung at her and then at the TV. Because precious things are under threat. Because the child is also hurting themself. Because you only asked them to clean their bloody teeth.
Perhaps you'd look in later, when one child is working at the table supported by their mother. You might notice the other child curled up on their mother's lap with a kindle and headphones. Then, if you look more closely, you might spot that the mother has been crying. You won't necessarily know why, after all, both children are calm and settled.
If you had looked in later that afternoon you would have seen something else again. That would be when one of the children has just spent an hour trying to earn a badge for a piece of coding, only to find that because he can't understand or answer the last two questions, he can't move on and earn his badge. His work counts for nothing because his Mummy doesn't know how to code and he cries his heart out. Then the printer isn't working properly which will make the French homework harder and the bloody Engineering Project is all about hex nut dimensions and hexagon screwdrivers and Mummy can't face it again as she just can't make sense of it and it always takes them hours and all she can hear through his tears is that nothing ever works and he hates his brain and she realises that the other child has now been on a screen for 3 hours straight as it is the only thing that will distract them for long enough to work through all the other hours of homework for the other child and...
If you happened to peer in later that night the dining room might be empty. Both children would be in their rooms and the mother would be at the bottom of the garden in a daze. She can't divide herself in half and work with both children equally. Both need full time support at school and home is now school. She hasn't managed to persuade one of the children out into the garden at all today. Again. The mother doesn't understand coding and she doesn't understand engineering and she can't understand why the printer wouldn't work and then would. She has eaten too much today, cried too much and she is filled with self-loathing and a crushing, suffocating wave of failure. She wonders, idly, if smashing herself on the head with a brick might be a less painful activity than doing this all again tomorrow. Because she will. Because she must. Because it was the same yesterday and it will be the same tomorrow and the next day. And the day after that.
For now all she can do is sit at the bottom of her garden and listen to the birds and hope to hell that this is all over soon.