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Sarah Stultz: Zoom is great, but often difficult for parents

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

We’re almost one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and you’d think I’d have this Zoom thing figured out.

Let’s be clear,  Zoom — and all of the similar platforms — are great inventions to allow people to be in different places and still communicate.

I’ve utilized Zoom for everything from interviews, court hearings and local government meetings to volunteer board meetings, club meetings, church classes and other church meetings.

It is also a fabulous way for multiple family members across the country — or globe — to all meet at the same time.

It just seems the minute I have to hop on Zoom for something serious from home, it’s like it starts a red flashing light above my head that instantly brings my son into the room like a magnet. Though he was happily playing in the living room the moment before, he now is ready to talk about something or, better yet, sing or start playing his trains at full sound on his iPad.

On top of it, he is sometimes running around the house in his underwear, or requesting to speak on camera.

Sometimes, I can’t help but laugh, and other times I just want to pull my hair out.

Thankfully, Zoom is equipped with a mute button, and if things really get crazy, I can turn off the camera and just use the audio portion.

I’m glad that for some local government meetings, such as the Albert Lea City Council meetings, the meetings are conducted in a manner that I am simply a “webinar” visitor, and I don’t have to worry about the audio or video and am simply an observer. Those meetings can sometimes be like a sigh of relief in that I don’t have to worry about my son running around in the background or him wanting to say hi to everyone on the screen or him wanting to make some of his pretend food for everyone in attendance.

Other government agencies are conducting Zoom meetings for their boards, but then for the general public, they are being live-streamed on YouTube or on their websites.

That’s a nice alternative, too, for this momma with an energetic, often loud, now 9-year-old boy and for other parents out there.

Last week, one of my Facebook friends posted that she had just gotten off of a 2 1/2-hour virtual college class during which her baby screamed for the entirety. And the worst thing about it, her professor requires the class members to keep their cameras on for the whole length of the class.

Hang in there, parents. Many feel your pain.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.