By now you're no doubt aware of how important social distancing is to slow the spread of COVID-19. This is because the virus spreads both from touching infected surfaces and breathing each other's exhaled air, which happens in social gatherings. Everyone who has the virus will likely spread it to 3-5 people. Multiply each new infection by five and we have an exponential spread.
The good news is that social distancing works. Staying home has a major impact.
The bad news is that you're now your kids' de facto school teacher.
But in this time of high anxiety, you get to decide what your "school" will look like and what your kids really need. I'm absolutely sure that what none of us need right now is more stress. To that end, I decided my kids need some current-day instruction mixed in with as many practical life lessons as I could pass along from my own growing-up years: the 1990s.
A few minutes ago I put the finishing touches on our home school corner. It consists of: An issue of National Geographic from 2012, my high school graphing calculator and a Karaoke machine. I ordered a cotton candy maker but Amazon Prime is only delivering the essentials so it may not be here until second semester.
Fortunately, there are a plenty of online resources available for those of us forced into magically transforming into a school teacher now that the kids are home for an undetermined amount of time. Museums and zoos are offering free streaming tours, Mo Willems Facebook Live-ing doodle time and there's rainbow yoga for all ages free on YouTube. Also, our school district, like most, will be using an app to deliver instruction and lessons, leaving parents responsible for putting the smack down when students get squirrely.
But the truth is, we’re going to be left with some holes to fill during the day. Why not use this time to teach these kids some valuable REAL life skills – those that have faded into oblivion due to our over-scheduled lives? Why not bring some real-life lessons from my own childhood and teen years to my kids while I have the opportunity?
For instance, I was shocked to learn my girls had no idea how to pierce their own ears. What the heck have they been doing up there in their rooms all this time, if not affixing an ice cube to the lobe while their sister makes a go at it with a sewing needle and a lighter?
In case you're inspired by this idea, here are a few other old-school life skills you’ll want to add to your syllabus:
1. Talking on the phone. My kids literally have no idea how to talk on a phone without there being a face on the other end. This ended all conversation with Papa No-hair (my dad) because he doesn’t have any idea how to Facetime. We tried once and he just kept staring at himself.
2. The Running Man (or the Roger Rabbit. Or the Worm). A big part of our day will be gym/recess time, and what better way to whip those little booties into shape than an old fashioned dance party? Do your kids even KNOW what to do at a wedding when a dance circle forms around them? Vanilla Ice, Salt-N-Peppa, MC Hammer… any video from 1991 will do for professional instruction. Have your kids show you how to pull them up – this generation-gap learning thing can go both ways.
3. Chain letters. Oh, the bone chilling terror of one of those babies showing up in your mail box. Copy and mail this letter to ten friends or you’ll have bad luck for five years? Terrifying. However, play it virus safe and just scan/email the chain letter to their friends. No touchy.
4. Cutting your own bangs. Nothing chaps my hide more than my friends sharing photos of their kids launching off to a homecoming dance looking perfectly stunning. Since when do high school kids get to look pretty? No. You'll have a foundation line on the jaw and weird patterned hose like the rest of us. See example below:
Notice I’m by myself – It’s baffling how I couldn’t score a date with those sweet hot-rolled locks. Now — cut those bangs with crafting scissors so one day you’ll appreciate turning 40.
5. Play dodge ball. Not with Nerf balls, either. Get those red textured kick balls and beat the crap out of someone’s little brother (from a safe distance of 6+ feet away). It’s not over until someone runs home crying. If it’s your kid, make sure to put some Campho-Phenique (from a rusty old bottle you pull from the back of the bathroom closet) on that cut. The sting is what makes you a woman.
6. Write a check. In cursive. It may seem like these are things of yesteryear, but who knows what we’ll be reduced to if the stuff hits the fan? Better teach them to carry/borrow a math problem while you’re at it.
To my fellow parents – solidarity. We may be in this for the long haul so remember to pace yourselves. Nobody is going to blame you for throwing some TV time in your daily routine. Just make sure to include a healthy dose of Beavis and Butthead.