Why We’re Sending Our Kids Back to School … and other 2020 thoughts!

There’s much speculation on if school will begin in August for our school district, for my kids, for my wife who works for the school district. Do we risk their lives by sending them out into this pandemic? What about them being little carriers of this disease?

Well, I’m here to share you where we side, and why when/if the time comes to decide, we’re checking the box to SEND THEM BACK!

The answer is simple: I’m more concerned about their mental health than their physical health. Statistics have proven that children, especially the age of my children (9 to 15) are less likely to develop symptoms. And yes, I know they can be a carrier of the disease, but as Sting and the rest of The Police sang, maybe don’t stand so close to … them.

If my kids were to contract the virus, that sucks, but in the last few months I’ve seen changes in my kids, that have started to worry me about their long-term mental health.

If you know me, or anyone related to me with the last name Johnson (or even with the Wells blood in them), you know we’re not anywhere close to introverts. We like to meet people, we like to entertain, we like to be social and thrive in that environment. For years we’ve stated that our youngest is a Johnson, with about 80-percent Johnson/Wells blood in him. Wells is my mom’s maiden name. No you can’t have my social security number!

Despite him consistently excelling in his academics, we’ve also had consistent discussions about how he’s a distraction in class. His classmates call him the funniest kid in the class. His teachers say he’s hilarious, but that he needs to tone down the antics.

He connects with a couple of kids and just like that he made friends. It drives his siblings crazy. Walk him into a brand-new church, he’s got new friends within the hour. Walk him into the park or splash pad, new friends within a 1/2 hour.

Now, take a kid like that out of his element for three months and what happens? That’s what I’m worried about too.

He’s run out of people to entertain. His brother and sister hide their laughter, cause he’s their brother and he can’t be that witty. He’s become extremely whiny. He’s become, dare I say, a bit odd (not odd in a way that is celebrated these days, but just odd in a way that months of no social activity can affect a social butterfly).

Thankfully places around here have opened up and he’s quickly made “friends” at the splash pad, Robotics tournament, the playground, anywhere there’s a young person that will interact with him.

That’s just the youngest.

I thought our oldest would have no issues with being home. A month in he was ready to return to school. Yes, he can play XBox with a couple of his buddies, but he doesn’t get to see his bros that he eats lunch with. They don’t get to make teenage-boy jokes around the lunch table, and do whatever else they may do at school. He’s often looked depressed, and again, if you know my eldest he’s always been known for his infectious smile. Heck, read about how it affected the nurses of 7A back in 2005.

High school basketball practice has started back up, so he’s back to work, having his temperature taken before he walks in, filling out a COVID-19 questionnaire the night before the week’s practice, staying in the same group with no less than 10 players. It’s helped a bit, but still, the thought of keeping him home worries me.

I thought my 11-year-old daughter would be the most affected because, she too loves to be around her friends. It wasn’t as hard on her as I expected, and as things have become more relaxed the dozen or so girls her age that live in our neighborhood have been able to hang out … every day, all day, bouncing from house-to-house. If we didn’t catch it from that, then I don’t know how we will.

So … when it comes time to take a survey, or decide if I want to play roulette with my child’s physical health, I’m saying send them back. I feel the long-term ramifications of keeping them home are way worse than the (hopeful) temporary ramifications of them perhaps contracting something.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below!

Meanwhile, I’m always living a quarantined life. I worked from home full-time before this, read about that here, and other than church service on Sunday I don’t get out and around people much. I’ve joined the wife on fewer grocery trips (thanks COVID!), but other than the kids being home and us having to postpone a Brazil trip, my life hasn’t changed much.

Racial Injustice

I’m not going to get into this much, it’s something I’m passionate about, that will always make my voice shaky when I talk about it, or the tears come out when I hear stories of two different races doing good for one another.

I know it’s out there. I know that changes need to be made. I’m not sure how to make those changes. I’m not perfect, but I’ve spoken openly to my friends that don’t share my same skin color (often that’s our only difference – imagine that!), about how I can make a change.

The end result I’m proud to say is, “Just do you!”

Texas has been an amazing move in regards to diversity. We’re the minority in the church we attend. For the first two years, I was the minority on the team I was on at work. The kids have a vast array of diverse friends.

I’ve been able to candidly ask “stupid” questions and not feel judgment for those questions. For example, why does so-and-so’s hair change every three days? (Rented Chris Rock’s Good Hair and learned a lot!) These friends have welcomed these “naive” questions, and actually those questions helped with building that relationship, and trust, when they know I am truly interested in learning about their background and culture. (It also helps when your ’90s R&B and hip-hop knowledge is off the chart, and a vast array of your brain is filled with diverse pop-culture nonsense!)

I’ve been able to hear stories, awful stories, that you think only are real in the movies but happen to people you know, not that long ago. It makes your heart hurt.

I learned about “The Talk” from a bunch of eighth graders at church, that left me and my eldest in shock. That black dads have to have a talk with their black sons about how they should interact with white police officers. I was baffled.

And I learned about Juneteenth before Juneteenth became a hashtag. Yes, we should make it a national holiday, or at least the day President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Seems like a no-brainer!

No I don’t think Black History should be learned in just February. Yes, I think it should be thrown in with the rest of U.S. history. Let’s stop separating our histories, after all, it’s part of OUR combined history!

I’ve also tried to support friends or neighbors that are cops (we made them cookies) to ask them their thoughts on this anti-cops era we’re living in. They agree that the not-going-to-write-his-name police officer was a 100-percent @$$hole, and that taking the life of Mr. Floyd should’ve never happened. They may feel differently about the incident in Atlanta, but also say they can see changes being made, mentioning better ways to detain people that want to resist arrest, so that it doesn’t lead to an escalation, to an unnecessary death.

I’m encouraged by stories that I heard from a police officer friend of ours that said his unit was having lunch next to a black family. He admitted that because of the times we’re in, there was some tension on both sides, but when the family got up the dad patted one of the officers on the shoulder and said he supports them. He ended up buying them lunch. I ended up fighting back tears.

Their jobs are thankless, likely underpaid, and like any occupation there are bad apples in every bunch.

My eldest is about to start law enforcement classes in high school. I try to get into the mind of a 15-year-old and ask him his thoughts about a profession he once said he wanted to do (all the way back to third grade, before his NBA dream started, now … I don’t know even know what he wants to do). He said it doesn’t bother him, but tell me if you’re looking for a job are you excited to sign up to be a police officer right now? I tell him he can change the world …

and really I think that’s what will make the difference. The future generations. As I mentioned to my co-workers in a Diversity & Inclusion meeting we had …

Sidebar on Diversity & Inclusion. I’m anti-Diversity & Inclusion because I’m so pro-Diversity & Inclusion.

It shouldn’t be something we’re forced to do, but something we should always be doing.

I don’t mean that our companies force us to do Diversity & Inclusion, just mean overall we shouldn’t force ourselves to be diverse and included others. Should be the way we always live.

I love our D&I huddles, especially with my highly diverse team. We have incredible discussions that have been called therapeutic by me and others.

It’s so much fun learning about different cultures. A find so much joy when my Brazilian family jokes that I’m more Brazilian than my Brazilian wife. I love it when my black friends say I’d be invited to the family barbecue. Still waiting for that invitation though! Just sayin’! When someone is from another country I start asking questions. When we go on vacation I make sure we spend some time taking in the history. Read about that here. This year we’re headed to the Florida Panhandle, I had decided long before all this happened to make a pit stop in Selma, Alabama on the way home. I want to be where history was made. (If you’re not aware of Selma the town, or movie, it’s streaming on YouTube for free.)

My work used World Day for Cultural Diversity to encourage people to look outside their box, their norm. The comments nearly offended me (I’m not easily offended), and were laughable.

Is it bad I think it’s odd that we say, “Pick up a book by a black author…listen to music of a different culture…watch a foreign film…”? Why are we not doing this already? Did I miss something?

And this doesn’t just go for my “culture” but everyone. A lot of cultures get stuck in their culture. Broaden your mind, don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to have a conversation, where was I?

Oh right … generations. Unfortunately it might take ridden ourselves of the older generation to help the problem (props to COVID? Told you I’m not easily offended!). The way that generation was raised was not always right. Especially for those that grew up in the south. But the future generation is becoming so mixed-breed (for example, my kids) that they’ll only be able to fight within themselves. As I mentioned above, there’s a bad apple in every bunch, and we’ll still find some fool that thinks the color of their skin matters, but my hope is that it’ll be few and far between.

Kobe, a pandemic, racial injustice, an election that’s only going to tear us more apart, it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. But – despite what you may hear – we are progressing. It’s slow, but God moves slow, and the world will be better soon, not immediately but … you get it!

Plus, the NBA starts in July, Major League Baseball hopefully the same, and let’s hope that nothing alters my fantasy football season or you fully see my wrath.

3 thoughts on “Why We’re Sending Our Kids Back to School … and other 2020 thoughts!

  1. Kevin you had alot of good points your family are blessed to have you for a dad and yes the interaction at school can be great for our kido

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  2. Kevin, You make so much sense in what you write. I agree whole heartily about the kids going back to school, I see the change in the great grandson that lives here, he also is a joker and loves school and his friends he has found there. Even though it was his kindergarten year cut short by the pandemic. The longer this goes on the more paranoid we all get. I have never considered myself as racist, equality for all. Keep on Truckin young man you are on the correct path of life. Love to all you Johnson’s even though I am a Wells. Love, Aunt Feller

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  3. My husband works for an elementary school and we have an 8 year old grandson. We are also pushing to have school open again. I agree with every point you made and we both feel that our kids need that interaction. At least give parents the choice to send their kiddos back to school. Online school is just not the best option for most kids (or the teachers), especially when there isn’t a choice. We’re just over the state a little bit from you and hoping we open back up soon!

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