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Dear Dominic,

You’re killing me.

I get it: You aren’t a fan of online learning. As I told one of your teachers this week: You are not thriving in the remote environment (to put it mildly).

But you do actually have to do the work until there is an alternative.

Part of your problem is your lack of time-management skills and your habit of prioritizing things like watching “The Mandalorian” over getting your work done.

Do you really want to repeat 10th grade? You’d end up going to school with your brother.

I KNOW you don’t want that. So pull yourself together.

Love,
Your long-suffering mother

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Dear Gideon, Dominic and friends,

Thank you for teaching me how to play Among Us. It’s not often I can hang out with a herd of 14- and 15-year-old boys (or want to, really).

Side note: What would a group of hormonal boys be called? A Testosterone of Teens? A Breakout of Boys? A (Growth) Spurt of Sons?

I can’t believe y’all were willing to have me in a game AND allow me in your Discord chat. I’m a mom; it’s not cool to be seen with me, I thought.

You were very welcoming and polite.

I’m sure it took some restraint to keep the convo clean, Gideon’s handle excluded. (Gideon, why?)

I realize I didn’t contribute much to the discussion. I was more interested in completing tasks than keeping my eye on character movements.

That one time I was the imposter was illuminating. I knew immediately I had given myself away when I popped in and out of a vent. It was an accident: I didn’t know what I was doing.

Gideon to me later: I can’t believe you killed me.
Me: I didn’t kill you. That was Roscoe.
Gideon: No! You killed me!
Me: Are you sure?
Dominic: You’re so ruthless that you don’t even remember the people you’ve killed.

Really, it was more ineptitude than ruthlessness.

Anyway, I know I’ll get better with practice. I hope you’ll let me play again.

With loads of appreciation,
Gideon and Dominic’s Mom

 

 

 

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Dear Helios,

Thanks for giving us one good day at the beach. We needed it after our annual trip turned into a nomadic search for reliable Wi-Fi in the age of ‘Rona ‘Rona.

(Thank you to Patrick/Petra, Tammy and Sharon for letting us park in your homes when the beach Wi-Fi would only allow us to connect my iPad and the Roku.)

Saturday became our hassle-free day. I only had to worry about keeping my foot elevated.

Dominic and Gideon only concerned themselves with how deep they wanted to dig a hole.

Eddie only bothered with taking photos of said hole.

Back story: For whatever reason, the boys love to dig a hole in the sand every time we go to the beach. I don’t know why.

But people act like they’ve never seen a hole. Not a single person passed without commenting.

Granted, it was quite an impressive dig.

Meanwhile, I was desperately trying to blend the tan stripes on my stomach that I got from tubing. (You know: When I got stuck outside of the tube and wiped off all the sunscreen trying to wriggle back into it.)

I was taking a nap when the family started badgering me to get under the umbrella. They started calling me names (“Whitey”) and reminding me of that one time.

It was hurtful.

Me to Eddie: Why can’t I be a bronzed goddess?

Eddie: You can be a vanilla goddess.

So I did retreat to shade, but not before checking the hole.

During the GREAT DIG, Eddie and I savored some adult beverages.

Me to Eddie: What are we doing about dinner?

Eddie: I don’t know. What do you want to do?

Me: I want to go to Crab Shack.

Eddie: But we’ll have to drive.

Me: We can take Lyft.

Eddie: No, wait: WE HAVE A DESIGNATED DRIVER!

(We both look at Dominic in the hole.)

There was much rejoicing.

Anyway, thanks for giving us a sunny, mild day.

Hope you’ll be around the next time we plan a family trip.

With appreciation,

Beth

*I got into the Disney vault for that.

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Dear Gideon,

You and I are two of a kind. I always forget just how much until we take a car trip together.

You made a playlist for the trip. Of course you did.

In addition to the expected trap crap you and Dominic like, you pulled out The Monkees, The Beatles and Tears for Fears.

Also NEIL DIAMOND.

“Sweet Caroline.” Sweet Jesus!

I couldn’t believe it.

We bah bah bahhhhed loudly down I-75. It was great.

Our bladders got full at the same time.

We chose the same flamin’ hot snacks.

We reached for the Clorox wipes at the same time.

When we got to where we were going, we both had to unpack right away.

We ordered basically the same meal at the barbecue place.

Then we both died at Wal-Mart when I was trying to drive the electric cart.

Sexy, I know.

I’m sorry for nearly mowing you down all those times. I’ve never used one of these things before.

At least you always knew where I was thanks to the beeping. (Like a bell on a cat collar.)

Anyway, I’m glad to be spending quality time with you again.

Love,
Mama

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Dear Administrators at My Boys’ School,

I hate to criticize you in the middle of a pandemic. I know you are doing the best you can. So let me just provide some well-meaning advice based on what I experienced leading up to and during Curriculum Night.

  1. Send a schedule and teacher links more than just a few moments before the event begins. You could have saved so much parent worry. It also might have boosted attendance. I managed to attend six sessions (out of 10 that I tried). The most present in any session? Five, including the teacher and me. In one session, it was just Dominic’s Geometry teacher and me. She is a lovely woman.
  2. Make sure the links work.

    This is what happened when I followed the provided link. There was no meeting code.

  3. Either extend the time per class or just have the teachers record overview videos. Seven minutes is not enough time (not even for that childhood game 😉).
  4. Strongly suggest that teachers use the same platform. Zoom worked fine. Google classroom was hit and miss. Microsoft Teams didn’t work (no audio).

I’m not trying to be a jerk to you in these difficult times. But I do want to be an active parent. Please make it easier for us. I don’t think these are unreasonable, outlandish suggestions.

Thank you.

Sincerely
Dominic and Gideon’s Mom

*Thanks to the Beach Boys.

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Dear Teachers,

God love you. I can’t even imagine how difficult your life is right now. Thank you so much for all that you do for woefully low pay.

This post is addressed specifically to my sons’ teachers.

I do not envy you.
I appreciate you.
I know you are doing the best job you can.

That said, I don’t think I will be attending Curriculum Night tonight because it is just too confusing for me.

And this is what worries me.

I have a number of college degrees.
I am technologically adept.
I teach online and have created online courses.

Yet I CANNOT FIGURE OUT how and when to log in tonight. Each of my children has seven teachers plus homeroom. They are at the same school. I’ve received SO MANY emails.

Interestingly enough, only half of the teachers have sent the emails. I haven’t heard anything from the other half. Ninth-grade teachers are much more communicative (five of eight) than 10th grade (two of eight).

Here’s the biggest problem: Most emails don’t include times. I filled out the form. This teacher did not send the link. Also, she sent that email at 10 p.m. the night before, giving parents just over 24 hours to respond.

Another teacher wants us to join during the day. DURING THE DAY! You know, when most people are working their full-time jobs.

There are only two of you who have provided an easy guide like this:

But guess what: Those two? Scheduled at the SAME TIME. Of course. You know how I know? I had to do this old school:

Nothing written means I got nothing from the teacher.

Then later — at 4 p.m. today — I got a text from the principal with this schedule:

The principal sent this ONE HOUR before the event is supposed to begin. You’ll note that the times don’t line up with what the teachers sent. And how am I supposed to attend two sessions (because I have two kids) at the same time in the space of fewer than seven minutes?

If it is this confusing for me — an educated technophile who works in education — I cannot imagine how difficult it is for parents who aren’t. Or parents who speak English as a second language. Or parents who do not have access to technology.

And you know it is difficult for the students to keep up with all this.

I can see why some students are already completely checked out (e.g., Dominic).

All I’m asking for is some consistency, at the VERY least.

Maybe I’ll see one of you tonight. We’ll see.

Thanks again in general for all that you do. These are weird, challenging times.

Sincerely,
Dominic and Gideon’s mom

*Thanks, Kim Wilde.

 

 

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Dear Parents of Teenaged Boys:

How did you live through the learning-to-drive phase?

Dominic now has his learner’s permit.

This was not an easy process, but I bet it pales in comparison to actually teaching him to drive.

He was supposed to go get his learner’s permit weeks ago. We made an appointment. He filled out the application. We got the appropriate letter from his school. I sent him the link to the manual and the sample tests.

We got in the car to go to the DMV.

Him (looking at his phone): What is this sign? (Shows me the following image on his phone)

Me: It’s a warning sign. Why?
Him (still looking at his phone): The line down the middle of the road is black, red, yellow or white?
Me: Look, you have to answer these questions yourself. First, I’m driving right now. Second, you should have studied the manual!
Him: Where did you say that manual was?
Me (head exploding): You are kidding, right?
Him: I didn’t think it would be hard.
Me: It’s going to be hard if you didn’t look at the manual.
Him: I think we are going to have to cancel the appointment.
Me (steam escaping my ears): Yeah, I guess so.

So we made a new appointment. He promised to study the manual this time.

On the way to the new appointment, we had the following conversation.

Him: I’ve been doing well on the practice tests. This guy said he failed the test 17 times. He finally passed after taking the test three times in one day. His advice is to read the manual.
Me: Well, duh.
Him: (Silence)
Me: You did read the manual, right?
Him: I’m reading it now.
Me: (Nearly crashes the car from shock and blind rage)

Y’all, I’ll be honest: I did not have high hopes for a successful outcome.

We got there, showed proof that he filled out the application and got our temperatures taken.

After loads of paperwork, he was off to take the test.

While I was waiting, I realized my license expires at the end of this year. So I renewed it while I was there. Bonus!

As I was doing that, Dominic ambled over.

Him: I passed!
Me: Really?! That’s GREAT!
Him: It was really easy. In fact, some of the stuff I studied in the car was on the test.
Me (rolling my eyes): You got so lucky.

On the way home, he called his father to tell him the news. No answer. He called his brother.

Him: I passed
Gideon: You passed?
Him: I passed my learner’s permit test.
Gideon: Oh. Nice.

They hang up.

Me: He was so … what’s the word I’m looking for?
Him: Unenthusiastic.
Me: Yes.

We had a good laugh.

I pulled over when I was nearly home and let him drive the rest of the way. He did a good job. He even praised me for my patience (!).

Today, we had to pick up his yearbook from the high school. I let him drive. On Peachtree. Anyone who knows Atlanta knows that’s like letting him drive on a NASCAR track. (Not as bad as I-285, but bad.)

I’ll be drinking loads tonight. And I’ll be thankful to be alive.

I swear he took a turn on two wheels.

He didn’t change lanes quickly and drove in the middle of the road for a bit.

He couldn’t figure out how to work the turn signal. (I mean, he’s not alone. Veteran drivers can’t seem to figure that one out.)

So how did you do it?

Any tricks or tips you want to share?

I’m all ears. (And white knuckles.)

Thanks,
Beth

*Thanks, John, Paul, George and Ringo. This tune is now stuck in my head.

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Dear Gideon,

I missed you when I took Dominic to Savannah.

I missed your non sequiturs.
I missed the odd comments.
I missed our inside jokes.

Luckily, you gave me all three starting the second I got home.

For the first, there’s this:

For the second, I especially like comments that make you sound like an old man. Like what you said when you got home from work yesterday:

I can’t wait to take my socks off!

To be fair, you get that particular thing from me. I prefer being barefoot.

And for the last one, I submit this exchange:

Me, outside your bathroom door: Are you taking a bath?
You: Yes. I’m in the hot TUB.

The emphasis is on “tub” because of this SNL sketch (one of our favorites).

You make me giggle all the time.

I missed you.

Love,
Mama

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Dear Dominic,

Sometimes I forget how great you are and how well we get along. (Having to bark at remind you to take out the trash and recycling takes its toll on both of us.)

But as we were leaving our place this morning to head to Savannah, I saw you at your best.

Wee morning hours are not great for me. It’s my own fault: We needed to get to the McKinnons’ house before all my Zoom meetings began.

As I was trying to get my watch charger in the dark, I whacked my forehead on the nightstand.

I was still rubbing my head when I told you it was time to go.

You saw the lump that had formed immediately.

You: What happened to you?
Me: I banged my head on the nightstand.
You: Come here. (Gave me a hug and a kiss on the forehead.)
Me: Did you just kiss my boo-boo?
You: That’s the treatment!

That was very sweet.

But then later when I took the ice pack off, you went back to normal.

Me: How do I look?
You: Like Voorhees.

Thanks so much.

Sigh.

Love you anyway,
Mama

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Dear Dekalb County School System:

Thank you for starting the school year online rather than face to face. Thank you for not caving to pressure from the COVIDiots Thank you for keeping all of us safe.

We are still in a FREAKIN’ PANDEMIC!

If people had buckled down and done what they should have in March/April, we might be closer to being back to normal.

But no.

Sigh.

Anyway.

My boys went back to school today. Usually I’d post a photo from their first day of the new school year on social media. This year, it seems silly.

Their bedrooms are their school.

Here it is, for what it’s worth:

Dominic is in 10th grade. Gideon is in ninth.

They are feeling overwhelmed. Seven classes each. All virtual. Mostly asynchronous.

(I’m even overwhelmed by the number of parent emails and texts I’m getting.)

There are thousands of kids doing the same thing, so the network was overloaded. Dominic was in a synchronous classroom by 9 a.m.

It took Gideon until 11 to get online.

But this is the way it is right now. I’m not complaining.

One of the cool things is that they decided they wanted to go to the store to get their own supplies. No ridiculously long and detailed supply lists this year. Thank GOD. (They rarely even used most of the things we just HAD to get.)

One of the not-so-cool things is that we ended up going to Walmart. (Shudder. Big stores now give me anxiety.)

On the way home, Dominic and I had this conversation:

Him: I really would prefer actually going to school. I’ll take my chances with the virus.
Me: Great! So you want to put your brother at risk, me at risk, and also your father who has asthma and likely would get the worst of it and die.*
Him: Well, when you put it like that, I guess virtual is fine.
Me: Mmmhmm.

So, DCSS, keep up the good work. Difficult times call for creative solutions. We will persevere.

You know that adage: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Sincerely,
Beth, DCSS parent

* Yeah, I exaggerated, but not by much. Eddie has had so many colds that graduated to pneumonia.

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