Back to School … Kinda


It’s that time of the year again when the stores are full of back-to-school shoppers, but this year the shopping is very different. At least for our family it is.

As much as I enjoy being the headmaster at Big Papa’s Basement Academy, I was really looking forward to having some time off when the girls went back to school. Seems that’s not gonna happen, all thanks to a worldwide pandemic.

Our two students are going virtual with their real teachers until Christmas – maybe even longer. So, we must get ready, and if you thought normal back-to-school shopping was expensive, going virtual takes it to a whole other level.

First, if the girls are going to virtual school, they’ll need new computers. So, a road trip to the giant electronic store with the big blue roof was in order. Walking into the store sporting a stylish blue mask, I headed straight to my noon appointment with a computer geek guy.

The geek guy was extremely helpful answering all my questions about which computer would be best for the virtual classroom in Big Papa’s Basement Academy. But a computer with a giant screen was only the beginning of our back-to-virtual-school shopping. We were just getting started.

If you have a super-fast computer, you gotta have super-fast internet equipment. So, we bought a new router. But that wasn’t the end of our shopping. More geeks joined in asking how fast our internet connection was.

“Slow,” was my answer. They suggested we upgrade to fiber.

“The Wife already upped my fiber content just last week,” I replied. “Everything is just fine now.” They laughed, then made me a reservation for the geek folks to come to the house and set everything up.

Next we needed two new office chairs. After all, the girls have to be comfortable if they’re expected to sit in front of the computer all day for virtual school. After the office supply store, I made a quick stop for new pink, bunny bedroom slippers. No, they were not for me.

Once back home, a quick call to the phone company meant we would soon have super-fast fiber internet. When The Wife got home from work, she informed me a new computer wasn’t necessary after all. School was providing new take-home Chromebooks for both girls!

Still, I decided to keep the new computer with the giant screen. If nothing else, video games and movies look great on it. This year’s back-to-school “virtual” shopping was way more than we expected.

Aside from not actually seeing their teachers in person, interacting with all their friends, recess, and those wonderful school lunches, there is one more devastating effect from going virtual: something my dad said to me that our granddaughters won’t be able to say to their children.

“When I was your age, we had it rough. I walked to school uphill, both ways, in three feet of snow while barefoot. And it was freezing.” (How my dad did this I still don’t know. He lived in Georgia all his life. Guess Georgia had a whole lot more snow back in his day.)

It’s just not the same if the girls say, “Kids, when I was your age, we had it rough. I had to walk to school in my pajamas, wearing pink bunny slippers, all the way down to Papa’s basement. And it was freezing down there.”

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