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Dear Teacher, You Lied
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opinion columns
by Richard Harris

From the May 13, 2020 issue of The Journal
   I'm fortunate that my child is old enough to be a college student, so I haven't had to really watch over him while he was forced to finish the school-year at home due to schools closing because of the coronavirus pandemic. It's a good thing, because I get lost 5 seconds into his explanation of what they're doing in his Georgia Tech computer science and math online classes.
   However, I'm sure those with younger children have found it fun and rewarding on many levels to help teach their kids at home. I also feel sure there are some who have found it very challenging and tiring. Below is a fictional letter from one such parent.
Dear Miss Teacher,
   I hope you have a great summer after spending the last part of your school-year adjusting to distance teaching. I know it hasn't been easy, so I thank you for hanging in there with us during this difficult time.
   However, I do have a bone to pick with you. I haven't always liked what you've said in the past, but I never thought you would lie to me. My child is certainly NOT a joy to have in the classroom, as you wrote on his previous report card.
   At least he has been not a joy to have in our makeshift classroom here during the pandemic. Since I've been out of work for most of the time the school building has been closed, I have been trying my best to make sure he does all the assignments you give him each week, but we've had our issues.
   I don't know how you're going to figure the grades for the last semester, but I can assure you he has earned an A+ in Eye-Rolling and a D- at best in Respect. I love my child, but if he rolls those eyes one more time, I'm going to slap him so hard they spin around inside his head like the symbols on a slot machine.
   I recently attempted to be a cool teacher and included "tsih" in the extra credit word scramble I gave him. He's a Star Wars fan, so I naturally assumed he would know to write "Sith." He did not. He thought his answer, which I'll let you guess, was hilarious. It sort of was, but it was also very inappropriate and did not bring me joy.
   I have tried to implement all of the strategies you suggested, such as keeping a regular schedule. I've tried, but it's not that easy to get up and get "class" started on time when you stayed up all night drinking and binge watching "How Grass Grows" because you've already watched everything else on Netflix.
   Yes, I've been feeling a bit stressed out about being out of work and trying to "teach", so I'm drinking a bit more these days. Please don't judge me too harshly.
   FYI: If you put your vodka in a coffee cup people assume you're drinking coffee, and if you put it in orange juice people think you're simply having a healthy drink with breakfast. Don't ask me how I know that.
   On the positive side, I think the "orange juice" has helped me be more creative. Last week I tried to improve my kid's attitude by having a "Spirit Week" – you know, like y'all do before big games and stuff like that.
   It didn't go exactly as planned. I won't bother you with what spirit days I had planned, because in reality they turned out to be Meltdown Monday, Terrible Tuesday, Wish-You-Weren't Here Wednesday, Temper Tantrum Thursday, and Thank God It's Finally Friday.
   Please, for love of all that is good and my sanity, find a way to reopen school this fall.