Confessions of an Amateur Telecommuting Homeschooler - Chapter 2


Taking an academic break from Xbox. 

Chapter 2- The One-Room Schoolhouse Start-Up

A few weeks ago (feeling more like months actually at this point) I wrote that the only piece of advice I could offer during these times would be Don’t Judge Yourself. Look how we’ve taken our homes and turned them into a school and an office – all while trying to keep it as a home. As a telecommuting dad surrounded by elementary, middle and high-school students, work and life have been fully integrated in our one-room schoolhouse start-up. The thing is that three-weeks into this venture I’m realizing that we more closely resemble Michael Scott’s workplace in “The Office” than the idealistic images of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie.” Nevertheless, as we move forward into another fiscal and academic quarter, unaccredited and unincorporated, we’re adapting to and doing our part to embrace this new abnormal.  

This chapter of the Confessions of an Amateur Telecommuting Homeschooler series is all about the dialogue. The conversations, critiques and craziness in our Morton hybrid of school and office that I hope will demonstrate that you’re both far from alone and surely not the worst at making this all work. Given that I work for the world’s largest HR organization I’ll keep it in terms we can all relate to. Oh, by the way, the names are not changed to protect the innocent because they are all guilty of saying and doing these things. And, unlike the color-coded, by subject, do this at home for your kids if you want them to succeed in college years from now, school schedules that litter my inbox each day these are not works of fiction despite how much I wish they were. So, here we go:

Employee Wellness Program Part I:

All My Kids (every day around 3 pm): “Dad, how much coffee do you actually drink a day?” 

Workspace Assignments: 

Catie: “Dad, why are you setting up that monitor here- there’s no way I’m doing remote school with those stuffed animals in the background on the bookshelf.” Me: “Catie, I don’t know then, why don’t you just take them down off the shelf and stick them in the closet so there’s nothing in the background.” Catie: “Nope, that won’t work either. I’m doing it down in the living room.” Two-hours laterCatie (after two-cats, one dog and two-brothers interrupted her remote school session): “Dad, there’s too many distractions down here and we need to set me up in my room.” 

Meeting Fatigue:

Luke “Remind me why we have to review what I still have to turn in- can’t I just work on it and not have to sit here and tell you?” Me: “Because it makes me feel better.”

Workplace Equality:  

Catie: “Jude doesn’t have to do nearly as much schoolwork as I do- he’s upstairs on x-box right now and I’m doing geometry.” Jude (yelling from upstairs): “It’s not my fault if I’m faster and better at doing my stuff than you are!” Catie: Dad, are you just going to let him get away with saying that?” Me (feeling like HR): “Guys, can’t each of you just focus on your own work, please?” 

IT Capabilities and Employee Productivity: 

Jude: “Stupid internet – Dad you need to fix the internet it sucks!” Me: “Hey, you’re supposed to be reading Jude- are you on the X-Box?” Jude: “Never mind!”  

Employee Benefit Concerns: 

Catie: “What’s for lunch?” Me: “Chicken nuggets, Strawberries and tater tots.” Catie: Again! Can you try and not burn them this time please?” 

Employee Wellness Program Part II: 

Me: “Come-on Jude we are going for a bike ride.” Jude: “What, wait, why? We went on one yesterday- why are we all of a sudden bikers dad? I mean what are we training for?” 

Sadly, I could go on- but you get the picture. And while it sometimes feels like a war here, it’s really, after all, our home and we are all very much safe and sound. So, no front-line allusions here. I’ll save those for the heroes amongst us that are saving lives in hospitals (like their mom) and others who are tirelessly providing us the things we need to soldier on.

Laura Ingalls Wilder herself once wrote that “Home is the nicest word there is.” Well, with all due respect to the blizzards you trudged through Ms. Half-Pint (her nickname for the many I may have lost here) I’d love to see you manage internet bandwidth while a Zoom meeting competes with two X-Boxes and Netflix.  


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