Quarantine Chronicles #8 – Valerie Comeaux, Educator

This is the eighth part in a series of images and interviews about how life has changed (or not) during the COVID-19 quarantine. The purpose is to show how we’re all in this together and we’re not all that dissimilar.

Dr. Valerie Comeaux is an expert educator and my friend. We have been compatriots in the classroom, through a devastating flood in our area, and now we are home alone, together. I was eager to get her take on this pandemic.

Q. How has the stay-home order changed how you do your work?

A. The biggest thing is that I’m a theater teacher. So when we got the announcement that we were going to be out of school for a few weeks, we were in th emiddle of rehearsals for “Harvey” It’s something we had already put several months of work into. We had paid rights, we were costuming, so we were holding onto hope for a little while that we’d be Abel to come back and do it in the summer.

But then, how do I still give them a performance to “say goodbye”? So we are doing a Zoom performance. It’s a monologue play called “Stranded: View from Quarantine” – every monologue written from the point of view of a passenger stuck on a cruise ship. We’ll be piecing that together this week. Taking theater, a very physical, interpersonal subject, and having to do it all online was very difficult. 

Q. How has the pandemic affected your kids? [a 9 year-old, and 19-month old]

It has been crazy. My 9-year-old doesn’t let me teach her, and I don’t teach her unless she comes to me when she is confused. But she has to do her work during the baby’s nap time because the baby will and start banging on laptops for attention. 

[My 9-year-old] understands a lot and I can tell it effects her. She repeats reassuring lines she’s heard from us and other people, “Everything will be okay,” “this will pass,” just little blips of trying to reassure herself out loud. It’s sad. It’s breaking her heart she can’t see her grandparents right now. 

Q. What is your silver-lining in all the insanity?

I’ll be honest, I’m not there yet. I’ll probably get there. Whether it’s more time with family or gratitude, but now I’m in crisis management mode every day. My husband is a firefighter, but he’s been on medical leave for 3 months as he had major hip surgery. So he can’t bend over or pick up the baby or anything like that, and everything changes every day. I have no doubt that I will learn lots of lessons from this, but I don’t have the time to reflect on them right now because I’m feeling like I’m keeping everyone else afloat right now.

It’s the mom/teacher in you, Valerie. You want to make everyone feel happy and healthy and okay, so you put their needs first. You’re one of the most empathetic people I know, and you put a hard shell on hold yourself together. I’m not “there” yet, either, but maybe we’ll be there one day together and can go for margaritas after. 😉


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