My daughter Emily finally got a desk for her room. It took months for the one she wanted to be available at IKEA…and here it was…all sixty-nine pounds. I always forget how heavy boxed IKEA furniture is. In true IKEA fashion, I spent hours putting the desk together due to its multiple little parts and making sure things like the rails that guided the drawers were put on properly. If I don’t follow directions closely, I’m likely to put things on backward, which would mean having to undo and re-do steps in the process. When the desk was finally finished my whole body ached, but Emily was ecstatic. She started organizing her things and making the desk her own.
For the first two days of school after getting her desk she was the most motivated student in the entire state of Minnesota. At least the most motivated second grader. She did all her work, and I did not have to help her at all. She was proud of her desk…
Then came Wednesday.
Emily regressed to being a seven-year-old. She lost her focus. Instead of completing her assignments efficiently, Emily would watch and re-watch the instructional videos on her assignments without completing any of the steps involved and forgetting what she had to do. Her lack of focus was compounded when one of her online classroom teachers started reading a book that afternoon that Emily found scary. The plot of the book involves a Scooby-Doo-like caper in which some evil developers are trying to make people think a school is haunted while a group of kids figures out the whole plan.
After finding her in her bed, wrapped in blankets and talking about how scary the book was, I knew that Emily needed a re-set. We went outside and played in the early season snow that had fallen the day before. I pulled her around the yard on a sled, completing several laps while she giggled: a kid playing in new snow. She eventually got her schoolwork done.
Managing Emily’s school days can be an obstacle to my voiceover career. When I help her, I have to take a break from my own work: recording, connecting with clients, writing blog posts, artfully staring out the window while drinking coffee. Thankfully my career is flexible enough that I can help her when she needs it, or go play Wiffle Ball with our thirteen-year-old son when he’s done with his school day.
Despite the pandemic, and learning from home, our family is fortunate. Our kids have space to learn, and schoolwork is an area where they are both quite capable. My wife has a job that demands a lot of time and attention, but she helps out when Emily needs her.
Helping Emily has actually helped me too. I’ve learned to be more patient, and listen to what she needs in the moment as opposed to what I perceive has to get done. This has not been easy. I want her to be done with her schoolwork, but sometimes she just needs a ride on a sled, and to forget her worries, if only for a few moments. It’s a reminder that I sometimes need a re-set too.