The Adventures Of Fatherhood – June 5, 2020

Beckett finished sixth grade this week. It’s certainly a school year he will never forget.

For our 12-year-old kid, life as he knew it came to a screeching halt Thursday, March 12, the night before we were to leave for Universal in Orlando. Pam received a message from her son who is a doctor in New York about the severity of the coronavirus and how everything was about to change. He had studied the science and knew what he was talking about.

Canceling our trip was a difficult decision at that moment. Looking back on it now, it was a no-brainer, but the severity of the global pandemic and the imminent shutdown were not known at that time. A few hours after we decided to cancel our trip, the NBA put a half to its season followed by other professional sports leagues. Disney and Universal also announced their intentions to shutter their parks on Sunday, March 15. All restaurants and bars were then closed in most states next week. It had gotten real.

There were initial thoughts of feeling sorry for ourselves after canceling what was to be our only trip of the year. We didn’t unpack our suitcases with our summer clothes for a couple months due to the disappointment. Those feelings quickly abated when the magnitude of what was taking place across the country were realized.

For Beckett, a busy life of school, music lessons, travel soccer practices and games, gatherings with friends and playing middle school lacrosse were all abruptly ended. He went from living a diverse life full of activities to home schooling, which he transitioned to well at first and enjoyed it. After about a month of continuous learning and school work, he started to realize he was missing a lot about his former life.

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With school winding down last month, Worcester Prep decided to not have finals this year for students and instead laid out an end-of-the-year, cross-curricular time capsule project. Each subject – Math, English, Science, American History, Art, Music, Computer and Physical Education – gave individual assignments. There were many unique aspects to the project, which we all had a love-hate relationship by the end of it.

The concept was appropriate for this time of his life, but it was also a tremendous amount of work. These time capsules would be uncovered their senior year, and we wanted him to put a lot of effort into it. Six years from now, it will be wonderful to reflect on the year when life stopped in many ways.

There were several special aspects with the time capsule, including letters from parents to their student and a letter from the student to his future self.

Beckett’s letter as a sixth grader to himself as graduating senior will be something to remember forever. He wrote the following:

“Dear Future Me,

Everything as you know now was not the same when you were twelve.

Let’s begin on March 12, 2020. Me and my family were leaving to go to Universal the next day, when my mom got a text from my older brother, who happens to be a doctor. He told my mom to cancel our trip due to COVID-19 getting a lot worse. She thought he was crazy at first but after we looked into it more, we decided to cancel and were very sad about it.

About a week later, all sports were canceled, and school is out for the year due to COVID. We are taking online schooling on an app called Zoom. Everyone was wearing masks and staying six feet apart during this pandemic. Me and my brother started to hang out more while doctors tried to find a cure.

For my birthday, my parents threw me a surprise party. Some friends came over with signs and we had snow cones. But we had to stay six feet apart and wear masks. They also all made posters for me with their own message.

I am currently writing this on May 30 and there has been no cure yet, but my hopes are high. We are waiting on a vaccine so life can return to normal. So, future me, appreciate what you have, it could all change tomorrow!”

It was interesting this week talking with Beckett about the last few months. At first, he was excited about home school. Doing his work in his pajamas was a novel concept. Zoom video lessons with his teachers in his bedroom were cool. Best was not being on a morning schedule and a little bit more relaxation.

A recent conversation showed the major shift in his feelings about quarantine and homeschooling. We were looking over all his subjects and making sure there were no missed assignments before the end of the term when he started asking questions about summer camps and next year, specifically the seventh-grade work load and the fall soccer season. He clearly wants to return to his normal life.

It was a tough talk because nobody knows when we will be normal. It’s difficult for a 12-year-old to understand the uncertainty of it all. For him, his life is black and white, but we are living in a sea of gray right now. It’s difficult to understand. It’s tough on his parents, too.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.