The Owl in the Living Room, and Other Scenes From a Year of Pandemic Homeschooling

Homeschooling during the pandemic was no walk in the park, but at least we managed to keep ourselves entertained

Brianna Conrey
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readNov 12, 2021

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Great horned owl specimen in a museum
Photo by Jeff Meigs on Unsplash

In retrospect, renting a taxidermied great horned owl for my kids was an obvious attempt to compensate for something.

Actually, it was an attempt to compensate for many things. First among them, of course, was Covid. By that point, October 2020, the kids had been cooped up with only their immediate family or masked caregivers for six months. Their only contact with friends was via video chat or occasional outdoor play dates, again masked. We had recently experienced disorienting losses of people dear to our family, not due to Covid, but conflated with Covid in our minds by the timing. On top of all that, just a couple of months earlier we had been temporarily displaced due to the raging wildfires in our region (luckily our home emerged unscathed). In short, everything was confusing, scary, and frankly depressing.

The biggest thing the owl was supposed to compensate for, though, was homeschool. Late in the summer, it had become clear that the public schools in our area were going to remain remote-only at least for the fall and probably beyond that. Remote schooling had…

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Brianna Conrey
Human Parts

Family, relationships, and life after divorce with a twist of humor. Exploring happiness, creativity, and how to be a good person in a complicated world.