Quarantine Lessons


Looking back at the last couple of months of quarantine living with two small children, I’ve learned many lessons. Some more important than others. Let’s take a quick look at just a few of them to see if similar things have happened at your house.

Not being able to go out, we’ve had to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Having to do so, here’s what I’ve discovered.

First, cooking three meals a day is a lot of work. (A belated “Thank you, Mom, for doing that every day when we were growing up.”) Now we have to plan, shop, cook, and then hear a bunch of complaining from picky eaters. It’s much easier to just go out to a restaurant, order, complain about the service and the food, then pay and leave.

What’s the second thing I’ve learned? I don’t tip as much as I should to put up with me as a customer.

Next up, cooking at home can be really tricky. Take, for instance, the simple task of baking cookies. There is a very big difference between a roll of parchment paper and a roll of wax paper.

Yes, I used wax paper to line a pan of chocolate chip cookies. Needless to say, they didn’t come out too well. But the ensuing fire let me reconnect with some of my fire department buddies, so I guess burning those cookies wasn’t all bad. But a pan of burnt cookies wasn’t nearly as bad as what happened when Big Papa here tried to teach Sweet Caroline how to ride a bike.

It only took a day to teach our 5-year-old how to ride her bike, but what a day it was! During the eight hours at a local parking lot of our nearby park, there were skinned knees, crying, and a lot of frustration … but enough about me.

In the end, I’m proud to announce there is now another bike rider in the world! And by the way she rides, Caroline’s either gonna be one heck of a race car driver in a few years or a demolition derby champion.

But as painful as teaching bike riding to a 5-year-old is, teaching math and English to her and her sister is so much harder.

It seems like it would be easy to teach a 5- and 6-year-old all the subjects they do in school. Just how hard could first grade math, English, sight words, and writing be after all?

I’ll admit, I never knew how hard it actually is to teach someone about fractions, two- and three-dimensional shapes, primary colors, how to write in cursive, what negative numbers are, plus all about space/time and the multiverse.

Okay, I might have gotten a little off track with those last two, but I guess that’s how teaching goes in the classroom. I only have two students for two hours. The copying of handouts, lesson plans, and making art activities all have to be done before my little class starts. And it all takes lots of time.

So, what’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned during quarantine? My hat’s off to all you teachers out there.

How you do all the preparations before class, teach thirty kids at a time all day long, and then go home, grade papers, and have any time left for your own family is a wonder. You simply don’t get paid enough.

I love being head of Big Papa’s Basement Academy, but I’m really looking forward to regular school starting back this fall.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]