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Cornelius News

Modern Dad: 3 weeks till summer break? You. Must. Be. Kidding.

‘The Breakfast Club’ 1985

May 15. By Jon Show. Nine weeks ago the coronavirus forced the closure of schools. Shortly after the shutdown I created a flyer declaring our house the new site of Show Elementary: Home of the Lightning. The flyer contained our daily school schedule and a picture of the mascot – our dog.

According to the schedule, each day would begin promptly at 9 am with dog walking and reading, followed by a daily Facebook Live stream with their real-life principal.

The schedule included a couple hours of school work in the morning and afternoon. There was time for lunch and recess and art class and a couple other non-core learning activities, as well as chores.

To say this schedule was a bit of a pipe dream might be an overstatement but I was hopeful it would stick. I am, after all, a schedule guy. I like schedules. They make me happy.

In my mind, Show Elementary would be a world-class institution that would mix book learning with real life learning. In the morning they would study whatever was assigned by their teachers, and in the afternoons they would learn life skills from us like how to change the oil in the car.

Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you that Show Elementary is fundamentally flawed. Fatally flawed.

Our school is so flawed that Great Schools—a website dedicated to rating the quality of schools—would probably rate us 2 out of 10, which is like the high school in Lean on Me before Morgan Freeman got there. Honestly we’d probably get a 1 but I think our lunch and recess are pretty good.

Let’s start with the real school work.

We’ve mostly left Future Man to his own devices and occasionally check in with his teacher by sending an email that reads something along the lines of, “We good?”

He starts middle school next year so leaning on him to get his work done on his own is probably a good thing and also we don’t have to do anything so, you know, win-win.

This week I asked him to list three things he’s learned in the last nine weeks. He grabbed paper and a worn-to-the-nub pencil—unsurprisingly there are no pencil sharpeners at Show Elementary—and returned 12 seconds later with this list:

The human body
How to shoot faster
How to get better at stringing lacrosse heads

The kid has played a LOT of lacrosse. Like, so much that he’s basically living the life of a Russian gymnast in 1983. Eight hours of sports. Three hours of school, which I’m guessing has included learning about the human body? Who knows.

The real school work with the Blonde Bomber is a little more difficult, in that we have to actually help her. There’s math and literacy work each day that we try to split up between myself and The Mother of Dragons.

Let’s just say her real school work got off to a rough start. It took a few weeks of me yelling at her to pay attention (again, Great Schools rating of 2) before I finally figured out she’s a visual learner.

You can sit down for three hours and try to explain to her how many feet and inches are in a yard. She’ll respond with a glazed look and a level of retention that somehow equals less than zero.

But take her outside with a yard stick for 10 minutes and ask her to start estimating the length of things and she’s like the Bobby Fischer of measurement estimates. Now we walk down the street and she just randomly yells out the height of things in yards.


In regular school the teachers would scold her and tell her she’s behaving inappropriately. At Show Elementary we giggle and pretend she’s not ours. After all, funny is funny.

The real life learning has also been a mixed bag.

On the positive side, the Blonde Bomber and I planted and tended a garden that is growing a massive amount of tomatoes, peppers, carrots and green onions. We also cooked homemade gnocchi one night for dinner.

On the negative side my car is 2,000 miles overdue for an oil change and we also rescued, hatched, killed and buried a duck. I don’t feel any further explanation is required here.

After a month of asking my son to come up with something we could do together I finally gave up and now I  just participate in his nightly lacrosse practices

The school calendar says Show Elementary has three more weeks until summer break so I summoned Future Man to my office in the hopes of soliciting feedback to help turn around our poorly performing institution.

In order to make changes, I told him, I need to understand what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong.

“What’s your favorite part of Show Elementary,” I asked.

“Nothing,” he said.

“What one thing would you change if given the opportunity,” I asked.

“Everything,” he said.

So I sent him to his room and quoted the wise words of Principal Vernon from “The Breakfast Club.”

“You don’t mess with the bull, young man. You’ll get the horns.”

Jon Show lives in Robbins Park with his wife, who he calls “The Mother of Dragons.” Their 10-year-old son is “Future Man” and their 7-year-old daughter is “The Blonde Bomber.” Their dog is actually named Lightning.