The Adventures Of Fatherhood – November 20, 2020

Carson does evidently like school after all.

I was away with Beckett at a soccer tournament Sunday afternoon when the call came about school going virtual through the end of the month. Therefore, it was on Pam to let Carson, our 11-year-old fifth grader, know he would not being going back to school Monday.

As I thought about it driving home, I wondered what Carson’s reaction was to the news. I wrongly assumed he would be okay with returning to homeschool, which is what I call virtual learning. No offense to the teachers, but Pam essentially is his homeschool teacher because he needs assistance navigating through the day’s curriculum due to his disabilities and learning differences.

Pam later told me Carson cried his eyes out when she told him. At this point, we learned just how much he has been enjoying his new school, new teachers and his new routine. We should have figured this was the case because he has been transitioning smoothly in the morning to school and seems to be doing well in his classes. He did not need a break from being in school nor he did he want one.

I learned firsthand Monday morning about his feelings. When I turned on the same computer that served as his classroom all last spring and early this fall, he teared up and showed his displeasure. It was like it all came back to him and he couldn’t accept it. I admit to telling him it’s just for a couple weeks, though nobody holds out any realistic hope for that.

At this point, however, it was do whatever it takes to get him to watch the principal’s morning message and answer the required question for attendance purposes. He was clearly a stressed kid and I felt for him. I was disappointed and worried too. I know Pam was as well because almost all the responsibilities fall to her to help our kid navigate this online education journey, which is just an unfortunate reality for now.

It was like déjà vu all over again for Pam. She always puts her kids first and will do whatever it takes, but the angst she feels over having to be the teacher and the mom again for an unknown period is understandable. She feels helpless and I don’t blame her. It’s a tremendous burden, one requiring her to ignore all other aspects of her life while school is in session. It’s impossible and I worry about her and our kid.

Fortunately, Carson has proven himself to be one resilient child. Flexibility is not a trait of most kids on the spectrum, but his maturation has helped to make him much more acquiescent to change. It’s a sign of tremendous progress for him. Though he clearly misses school, Carson came around to accepting he had to get his work done at home. Pam builds in breaks for him and I think has been finding some success within her own self by not taking school so serious. She’s an overachiever, but there’s only so much that can be done through virtual learning. Nobody wins if she and Carson are both stressed out. If that means missing a lesson or taking more breaks throughout the day, I say so be it. It’s just not worth it in the big picture of life.

Later, as I took Beckett, our 12-year-old seventh grader, to his school, which is still in-person, he was dumbfounded over Carson’s emotions and couldn’t understand why Carson was so unhappy about virtual learning. He asked why Carson was crying about school this morning. I reminded how he might feel if he had to go back to virtual learning, what he may think if he was in the same position and what he will miss about school. He thought about it for a minute and understood. He reminded at least it’s just for one week and next week is Thanksgiving.

I told him that’s what I was telling him to get him on the computer that morning. Of course, it would be the epitome of naiveite to think this is a short-term thing. Our kids will once again look to us as to how to handle all this. I take comfort in knowing we will mask our true feelings for their greater good. As she does in most situations, Pam is rising to the occasion, while we have our own informal therapy sessions nightly talking through this nightmare situation for our kid, all students, the teachers and the parents.


There’s nothing like a spat to start the day.

I had one of these fun occurrences with Beckett on Wednesday morning. He came downstairs dressed for school with his hair dry except for a damp small front patch. I asked him why he didn’t wash his hair. He said something along the lines of, “it’s called I dried it.” I reminded him I am not stupid and that showers are for getting clean while helping to wake up for the day.

We then had an unpleasant conversation about lying and being disrespectful. He was insistent he had washed his hair. I was adamant he could not have his phone or any other electronic device before school if he kept perpetuating the lie over something so silly.

It was quite the square off to start the day. It was 7:10 a.m. and would later prove to be one of those days full of battles between us.

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.