Updated: Mar 31, 2020
First off, I want to wish the best to all of you and your families. I hope you are in good health and are staying safe in this world of perpetual uncertainty. From what I’ve gathered on social media, no quarantine experience looks to be the same. To those successfully (or unsuccessfully) homeschooling your children, I am extremely proud of you. This is not easy! I’d also like to give all the credit in the world to my lovely wife for powering through these last few weeks cooped up with a four and five-year-old, while I continue to go to work (clean water is pretty essential). You are the best, darling! I love you. You are a superstar!
With that said, I'll circle back to something I've already alluded to... homeschooling. My five-year-old is at a critical development phase as we are trying to get him caught up before he enters kindergarten next year. His pre-school has been proven to be top-notch. His teachers are fantastic and his growth since he’s attended the school has been a total pleasure to witness. Those teachers have all the patience of saints. Something that I ostensibly lack. The excellent materials given to us by the schools have certainly helped, but getting the boys to work, before my own frustration sets in, has not been a strength of mine. Case in point...
My wife called me on my way home from work the other day, telling me how much the boys missed me and how they couldn't wait until I got home. It was a good feeling that lasted about ten minutes or so after I walked through the door. A few hugs, some smiles, and off they went to play without another thought of me. However, It was Daddy's turn to work on the school materials with the boys. A notion neither of them were particularly thrilled about.
Every question I asked, or anytime I tried to get my oldest to sound out words for his speech therapy, he would slump down, put his hands over his eyes, and whine. Occasionally he'd use his thumb to push his nose up at me. Good old, pig nose. Super fun. And the younger boy just turned tail and ran any time I tried to engage him.
"It's so hard. Too hard for me," my oldest moans. To which I reply with my standard retort, nothing worth doing is ever easy. He hates that response. I'm pretty confident that he will continue to hate it all the way up until he graduates. Probably beyond.
After we struggled for a bit, I promised the boy we could use my laptop computer for some games if he worked with me a bit longer through the material. It half-worked. I could tell he was doing just enough to get by with me and after a good half-hour (45 minutes total)- he and I had both had enough of each other. Plus, it was time to start cooking dinner.
My wife had gone upstairs to take a well-deserved bath and I didn't want the boy playing with my laptop unsupervised (not because I keep anything dirty on there, get your heads' out of the gutter. He simply has a knack for finding a way to buy things when left to his own devices with electronics). So, when I told him that computer games would have to wait until after dinner, the command floated like a lead balloon. (Yes, I most certainly could have timed this better).
"No dinner!" He screamed, tears instantly streaming down his face. "Computer! Please!... Please, please!" I tried to console him, but it's hard to do when he's that worked up. He eventually stormed off as I turned my back on him to prepare the meal - knowing he probably wasn't going to eat. A common protest tactic. Later on, he asked to use the computer again, whilst I was in the middle of chopping the meat. I predictably answered with another definitive, No. Once again explaining that I had to cook dinner.
"No dinner!" He screamed. Then he puffed out his chest and shouted defiantly, "You're fired! You're fired, Daddy!"
His tear-stained cheeks were beet red and his tiny jaw was clenched tight as he stared me down from across the kitchen. I tried, guys. I really did try not to laugh. I just couldn't help it. I grabbed the boy up as he wriggled and thrashed, holding him in a constrictive bear hug (he's a bit of a scratcher, so constriction is necessary). If he hadn't used this odd turn of phrase I probably would have been a lot angrier about his blatant indignation. Instead, I spoke as calmly as I could.
"Just give me a few minutes and I'll set it up for you, okay?"
"Hmm!" He grunted. "You're fired, Daddy."
"Okay, bud," I chuckled before putting him down, then watched him stomp out of the kitchen.
Dinner went as predicted. Luckily we still had shepherds pie leftover from the other night. Both boys love shepherds pie. They can't seem to turn that meal down even in their worst moods. Once we all ate, I loaded up the PBSkids.org site on the computer (A Godsend in these times). I played some of the number and letter games with him before it was time to get ready for bed.
"Am I still fired?" I asked him as we played paint-by-letters with, Super Why.
"You surely are," he said with a wry smile. I laughed.
"Okay, bud," I chuckled again. Knowing that this would not be the last time I would be fired as the boy's teacher.
I've always been a proponent of educators getting larger salaries, but now I want to pay them like professional athletes. Thank you, teachers. We miss you!