Thursday, January 6 2022

virtual school, tex, and paw patrol toy slams

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, friends! Happy Thursday. For as difficult as it was ramping up to regular working hours, at least this week seemed to fly. I can't believe it's already Thursday. Goes to show that time flies when you're having fun, but also when you just don't have as much free time to do fun things. What a paradox!

We begin with the setting. I'm writing in my bedroom office today. Our little plastic fan churns on the bedside table behind me. Our Gecko's lamp is switched on, but winter morning sunlight scattering off the fresh powder in our front yard already drowns it out, making interesting shadows on the wall in front of me. I don't usually make it to this seat until later in the morning, so the low angle sunlight makes this familiar room feel kind of new and exciting.

But where there's something new, there's also something old, reliable, and familiar. Where's my cup of coffee?

Sip. Today, Rodney kicked out of my usual writing spot. Our dining room is now a remote Kindergarten battlestation. Rodney descended the stairs in a fresh outfit, and just the fact he was wearing more than a pair of underwear was probably enough to make him feel "dresssed up" for the occasion.

His Chromebook, a pencil, and paper were arranged neatly on the table. The night before, Marissa made him his own nametag too.


When we read Rodney's school would be closing, we felt demoralized. But now that the kickoff for virtual school is finally here, there's some excitement in the air. Virtual school is better than nothing. Rodney signed onto the Zoom call and greeted each of his classmates by name.

I consider myself lucky to finally witness first hand how kindergarten business is conducted. Rodney's teacher begins with an opening meeting. After some guidance, the teacher asks the room, "Any questions?"

In the adult world, we all understand that to mean "Any questions about what I just said." Five year olds take that prompt in its literal meaning. Any questions, any at all?

The first hand shot up. "Have you seen the Paw Patrol movie?" said a classmate. "It already came out."

Then each kid, one-by-one, dutifully responded "YES" or "NO" to the prompt. Rodney's teacher waited patiently until each kid in class had a chance to vote in the impromptu poll. And then they all moved on - no word about what everyone thought of the movie, just "yes" or "no" was enough.

I'm tempted to try that out today. In my next work meeting when someone says, "Any questions?", I'm going to say ask the first question that pops into my head, even if it's not relevant. "Yes, I have a question. Have you seen the Paw Patrol movie? I'll go first - yes."

Yesterday was a whirlwind. These workout sessions really throw a wrench into the delicate machinery of our day. I went from leaving a zoom call for work, to immediately throwing my gym shoes on and joining Marissa in the living room for squats. We had to pause in the middle of a training circuit to make dinner.

To further complicate things, Marissa and I have cut out snacks and unhealthy foods. Our only sanctioned indulgence is a midday peanut butter KIND bar. I didn't remember my allotted KIND bar until just before dinner, and I was so excited I ate it sitting on the kitchen floor while Marissa cooked like a dog competing for scraps.

Another bright spot in the Wednesday came in the form of a tiny vial inside a tiny parcel that arrived yesterday afternoon. At last, it was finally time to open a new spider. We welcomed Tex, the Aphonopelma hentzi into the spider kingdom.

Tex was very tiny - no bigger than the house spider I rescued from the ceiling earlier that day. It's hard to imagine him as a 4-5 inch wide monster, but in a few years we won't have to imagine it.


Welcome, Tex.

I was grateful he was still alive. So far I haven't had the displeasure of unboxing a deceased spider. Waiting on my porch for ten minutes in the vengeful Wisconsin winter, Tex's heat pack was cold to the touch. Who knows how much longer he would have lasted in the cold.

Tex is a clumsy sling. Throughout the rest of the work day I observed him fall backwards down into the burrow I started for him. An hour later, I found him stranded in the middle of his water bowl, which to him probably felt like an olympic sized swimming pool. But there was no chance that he would drown - luckily spiders float on water just fine.

This morning I was happy to find that Tex was finally getting the hang of his new environment. He dug a small tunnel running orthogonal to my burrow. I'm sure the warm air and fresh dirt are a welcome change and feel a little more like his natural endemic habitat of Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and other warm regions of the southwest USA.

Today Marissa and I are looking forward to a date night. We're getting a baby sitter and attending a trivia night at our favorite pub, but before we can hit the town we need to find thirteen minutes in the day to complete our workout. We watched Greg's instructional video for completing a medicine ball slam, showing us how to pick up a heavy medicine ball and slam it on the ground.

"What can we use that's like a medicine ball?" asked Marissa rhetorically.

"One of Rodney's toys?" I suggested. "We can call it a paw patrol toy slam". We laughed, imagining us taking turns hoisting the plastic paw patrol lookout tower over our heads and slamming it on the ground. "We'll do it after the baby sitter gets here, and just ask her to clean up the mess." As a parent, being so empathetic and gentle all the time, I need to take small breaks once in a while to enjoy a dark joke. Of course we'd never slam Rodney's paw patrol lookout tower into the ground. But if we did, I bet it would be satisfying (and a great workout).

That's what I got today. Thanks for stopping by, everyone. Go find something to slam on the ground, and have a great Thursday.