Week 2 of Distance Learning Due to COVID-19 (Apr. 6th – Apr. 10th, 2020)

We have completed another week of distance learning and the time is going by fast. The second week got off to a smooth start, after all, it should just be repetition at this point, right? Wrong. I let my guard down expecting the schedule of the previous week to be our guide. What I expected but didn’t plan for were the confusing lesson questions from my Twelve-year-old, Middle School attending daughter. I spelled all of that out to convince myself that the work she is receiving is appropriate for that grade level.

I have been out of middle school now for….., many years and though I don’t remember much from that period, I do remember not having to produce anything near the work my daughter has too or my son at the elementary level for that matter. I know times have changed a great deal from that era to now and I appreciate progress, it’s on me now to get up to speed fast enough to keep up with my kids. I have always been proud of my children for all their accomplishments, now, after two weeks of just a small taste of the work they are engaged in I am even prouder and have a higher level of respect for them both.

We also had a welcomed surprise for the second week of distance learning. My lovely wife had a few days off from work and being the Doctorate recipient in the family, I gave her the honor of assisting our daughter with the college level questions. She is a practicing Nurse Practitioner (NP) so I did not doubt that this was something that she could handle. When a difficult question comes up on a regular day, I would refer to her with the statement, “You’re a college graduate, you have the answer to everything.” I’m wrong for that I know, but we constantly like to challenge each other, as the famous saying goes “Iron sharpens Iron.” I also want my kids to realize the value of a college education. My wife is the true hero in our family, and I am happy to be her sidekick.

With my wife at home for those few days we were able to separate the kids, my son downstairs with me and of course my daughter upstairs with her mom. This separation seems to have been a blessing in disguise because there were fewer distractions and clowning around between them and my son was far less fidgety. When it was time for lunch, they had a lot to talk about, in some ways that small separation made them miss each other as if they had been to their actual schools which are at different locations.

 At the designated recess period my kids can go into the garage for some exercises and activities. My daughter plays tennis using a blank wall as her competition, I explained to her that it is only for fun because the wall would win nine times out of ten, the tenth time being called a “draw” to save face. My son sets out cones so he can run basketball drills while practicing ball handling, passing, and dribbling. They enjoy recess as most days I would participate in those activities and lead them through other exercises and stretching routines. Being a former amateur boxer and unprofessional athlete myself, I think this area is my strongest.

I think we are getting the hang of this distance learning period with the benefit of spending more time together. I have nothing against spending more time with my kids, but I don’t want them to grow up sheltered, away from the public without any interaction with kids their ages. So, I remind them often that this is only temporary and encourage them to keep in contact with their friends. We will enjoy this family time and make the most of it productively.

Truly, Julian R. Johnson (Daddy Sidekick).