Almost There

Slice 14

I coach my middle guy’s baseball team and because of that I get the most alone time with him. Over the years when he has practice, or winter workouts like we’ve been having since January, the other two have had to tag along and watch on “my” days but with Covid that’s a no-no. During practice we operate under a dynamic that has been cultivated over time which straddles the line between dad and coach. On the way there we usually are quiet, listen to music, mine blasting from the car system, him with his earbudpod things in. Afterward I usually drop him at his mom’s and that’s been speech time lately.

He has helped me be a better dad and teacher during remote learning. He has always been a solid B/C student. He’s the athlete, his brother the scholar. Though his brother loves sports and he’s not super below average academically. He’s one of those kids, though, who just hasn’t been able to successfully navigate distance learning. He spends his days in his mom’s apartment surrounded by distraction, bombarded by recently hinted at ADHD. He hides and internalizes and procrastinates and allows stress to build to levels a kid his age quite literally cannot tolerate due to not having the tools to do so. It has been sad and scary and frustrating to watch. But doing so has made me more understanding and compassionate.

Tomorrow the final quarter of junior high starts for him and then he’s off to a hopefully normal version of high school. This means all the missed assignments he has made up, and those he has not, are for the most part in the past. For speech time today I told him that he has two weeks before remote learning is over. Then we hit spring break and after that we will (fingers crossed) complete the school year with kids in person the rest of the way, five days a week. They will be masked and distanced and remain in one room so it will not be “normal” but he will be in the place where learning has always worked for him. Up to this point he has worked so hard in equivalent amounts of time as he has not worked so hard.

So I told him that he had two weeks and that he has proven that he can focus and email teachers and ask questions and organize thoughts and due dates and DO remote learning, just not with much consistency. I reminded him that up until recently we didn’t know how long we’d have to do school like this and the nebulous nature of it all probably contributed to the hopelessness he has felt at times. And I told him that in these final two weeks he could win. He could see it as something that kicked his butt as many times as he did the butt kicking and he could finish up the last two weeks on top. Prove to himself that, in the end, he won. He beat this challenge unfairly foisted upon him and move forward with pride, hoping the knowledge that now his struggle had a finite timetable would give him what he needed to see through the hopelessness toward a sense of victory.

And I let him know that I wanted that for him. That regardless, I was proud of him. 

And having this all typed out now I guess I want to extend those same platitudes to all of you. And to me, as well. Good job. Everyone. Now let’s finish strong – whatever that means for each of us.

One thought on “Almost There

  1. I felt stressed just reading about how your poor son is feeling. The hiding and internalising and procrastination all sound so familiar, and to deal with that during distance learning is so deadly, academically speaking. I hope these net two weeks go by quickly and as painlessly as possible for him (and you).

    Liked by 1 person

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