‘I sit with one eye answering emails, the other on my son who stares at schoolwork like it’s a hate crime.’: Dad says ‘don’t feel bad, we’re all struggling’

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“I haven’t drank in a decade, but homeschooling has got to be why liquor stores are considered COVID essential. I put a desk in my 13-year-old’s closet. I sit there, laptop open, one eye answering emails, the other on my shaggy-haired son who just stares at his schoolwork like it’s a hate crime.

It’s not that he can’t do it. It’s he doesn’t want to do it, so managing his b*tching is now 20% of my professional responsibilities. I set timers and goals, and short breaks, and he argues and asks for snacks or screen time, and all of it makes me understand why people used to marry off their children around this age. And to be real, I’m not 100% sure how much work the kid has, or where all his resources are. Just the other day Mel asked our son if he’d checked his school email, and he said, ‘I have an email?’ Sure enough, he did, with literally an endless list of unopened messages from his teachers.

Downstairs my wife works with our 5 year old and 11 year old. They used to work at the table together, but the girls couldn’t stop kicking, arguing, and crying because of injustices that weren’t injustices at all, but just three people sitting at a table. All the screaming was getting awkward in the background of my zoom meetings, so now no one works in the kitchen, while the other works in the living room.

Now they get along, but more in a guerrilla terrorist sort of way. One is always creating a distraction so the other can sneak into the pantry for crackers. It’s a coordinated thing, which I must admit, is impressive, but it’s destroying our food budget and making me wonder if they’re starting a revolution. I thought we’d be saving money on gas during all this, but we’re spending more than my monthly commute on cheese sticks and Captain Crunch.

Mel’s a teacher at our kids’ school, and some afternoons she goes to the school to print homeschool packets, manage the school garden, and find her sanity. I shift downstairs to help finish schoolwork that could have been done before noon if my kids didn’t suck.

I continue to try and not get fired, which usually means I give up after 30 minutes or so, and send them into the backyard with the garden hose, so I don’t end up dropping them off on church steps, which really isn’t a possibility right now because churches are closed, but it’s the image I need to keep going. Our kids, once again, fall a little more behind in schoolwork, but we still have jobs, so that’s a blessing.

Please keep in mind, I like to think Mel and I are good parents and we really love our kids. We both work in education, so we ought to know what we’re doing, but having three kids, at three different levels, all studying from home, while we’re trying to work from home, is an insane assortment of gears that are always grinding. So, if you’re about to blow your stimulus check at the liquor store, don’t feel too bad. We’re all struggling.”

Courtesy of Clint Edwards

This story was written by Clint Edwards and is an abridged chapter from Clint’s hilarious new book, Silence is a Scary Sound: And Other Stories on Living Through the Terrible Twos and Threes. His new book can be found here. Follow Clint on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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