Hey, JT, Are you smarter than a fifth grader? The short answer is, no, though I would certainly rank myself somewhere above President Cheeto but just under Neanderthal. I can bullshit my way out of pretty much anything, though I don’t think that has as much to do with intellect as it does with grasp of vocabulary and narcissistic charm. Regardless, I always considered myself a moderately smart guy. Until I had to do homeschooling.
Before I launch into this self-deprecating tirade, a brief disclaimer: if homeschooling my kids while quarantined in my gorgeous Bay Area home is my generation’s “sacrifice,” I should just shut up right now. By age 22, my great uncle had been shot down in his B-17 five times – twice behind enemy lines – while saving the world from fascism and genocide. I haven’t had a haircut in two months and I have to wear a mask when I get Starbucks at the pickup window. Boo fucking hoo.
Lesson One: Fifth Grade Homeschooling Sucks
Homeschooling started out easy enough the first few weeks. We were basically on autopilot, as my daughters (11 and 9) covered material they already knew: fill in the blanks, multiple choice (where three of four answers were ridiculously off-base), and lots of “write one moderately-comprehensible sentence” exercises. All of it easy enough for me to ignore so I could concentrate on all those really, really important things that unemployed people concentrate on. Like not slitting my wrists.
Then came the inevitable, “Dad, I need some help.” (Which, as every parent knows, actually sounds like, “Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad I need some helllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllp”). And honestly, I was excited to dive in and assist my nascent doctoral candidate using my multiple decades of worldly knowledge. In some ways, homeschooling sounded like a bonding experience – a way to spend unique, quality time with my girls that would have a long-lasting impact.
Daughter: Is a rhombus a paralellagram?
Daughter: Daaaaaad, is a rhombus a paralellagram?
Me: How the fuck am I supposed to know?
Smarter is good, patience is better
If there’s one thing I lack that professionally-trained educators have, it’s patience. Specifically, patience for this. I have unlimited patience for all the shenanigans my kids perpetrate, and I’m not being facetious. Want to paint rainbows and donuts on your door? Go for it. Style the cat’s hair? Absolutely. Turn the kitchen upside down making a cooking video for spaghetti with yogurt/salsa/leftover gravy sauce? I’m in.
Can’t name the three branches of government? How fucking stupid are you, kid?
Are you smarter than a fifth-grader? Apparently, most parents are not. On the latest episode of the podcast, I talked with mental health specialist and educator Charle Peck about this. She explained that teaching, in the formal classroom-setting sense, is simply not a part of the parent-child relationship. Kids go to school expecting the teacher-child relationship, and teachers have an expectation of that relationship as well – one that includes patience, understanding, and empathy in the educational process.
So, that’s good news. I mean, I don’t want to be Angry Teacher Dad – I don’t want my kids living in fear of dad losing his shit over the multiplication table. At the same time, I want my kids to be well-educated. Perhaps the real take-home lesson of homeschooling, as we move closer to the summer months and a potential end to this madness, is to stop under-valuing our teachers: to make public education even close to the same kind of financial priority as say, the military, which receives ten times the funding of public education. I guess it will depend on how many lobbyists were quarantined these past few months, and how many kids they have…
Screaming At Your Fifth Grader Because She Can’t Tell HerJudicial Branch From A Hole In The Ground Pairs With: The 2017 Cultivar Wine Chardonnay, Oak Knoll, Napa.
As some of you may have heard on Season 3 Ep. 4 of the podcast, I recently got me a J-O-B as Director of Marketing for Cultivar Wine in Napa. WHOOP! I’ve never been more ecstatic about being paid half as much as marketing professionals in other industries in my entire life. You don’t have to be smarter than a fifth-grader to know that it would only be beneficial for me to pimp the bugeebus out of their wines. On the contrary, I can wholeheartedly recommend with zero bias their incredible Oak Knoll chardonnay.
Oak Knoll, a mostly valley-floor appellation in the center of Napa, is well-known for growing extraordinary chardonnay grapes. Winemaker, Julien Fayard is a veteran of Lafite Rothschild and contemporary of wunderkind Grape Star Phillipe Melka). He gives this chardonnay gets a treatment that combines old-world subtlety with Napa intensity. Using both stainless tank and neutral oak fermentation (and undergoing only partial malo), the wine strikes the perfect balance of pedigree and quaff-ability, without an overdose of the butter-and-oak qualities that haunt my nightmares. Are you smarter than a fifth-grader? Then you already know this…