By: Thomas E. Edmund, Jr., Gateway Regional High School
NATIONAL PARK, N.J. — Most parents are at home right now, acting as school teachers for their kids as they try to adjust to brand-new daily routines. Those new routines can be hectic while at the same time satisfying.
Michelle Edmund is employed as an Administrative Assistant at a family-owned Marine Engineering company. Edmund stated that the homeschool experience has been very different. “Trying to juggle doing my daily work while talking to my co-workers and helping you has been frustrating at times. I have deadlines that must be met and when I am stopping to help you, it delays me,” she said.
While at home, one of the biggest challenges for Edmund is being cooped up with her family. She is used to getting up and going to the office for eight hours, and now she says that the family room is her office. Having to adjust to using a laptop for her work has been a real struggle, as she had said that the software that she uses on a daily basis may not be compatible with a laptop instead of a standard computer monitor. Getting easily distracted by the television has also served as a great challenge for staying on task and meeting deadlines.
For Edmund, however, this extra time with family is priceless. She acknowledged that life is too precious and too short, we need to learn to cherish the small stuff. “I am hoping that when this is over and the world returns to its “new” normal, people realize how they treated each other, especially teachers, medical professionals, frontline workers, etc. We are all in this together, this virus did not single out a certain race, color of people, or sexual preference,” Edmund admitted. She continued on by saying that each generation has had a specific event that defines them, unfortunately this virus will be the defining event for this generation. As for the future, Edmund hopes that we never have to face something like this again, it has opened up our eyes as to how we can all come together in a crisis and be one.
When not trying to meet deadlines, Edmund said that she has been watching classic television shows, like when she was growing up, taking drives, watching game shows and Food Network, ordering food for “Take-out Tuesdays,” where her family patronizes a locally-owned eatery, and sampling cooking recreations.
Mrs. Amy Reuter, a realtor who has been quarantined with her family, said that she has the ability to manage her real estate business remotely via FaceTime and Zoom meetings with clients, and do virtual showings of houses right from her home office during this time. She said she is thankful that the change of being home has not been too difficult.
Reuter has two sons, who are both students at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology; she added that her senior has been working a full-time job in fabrication at a manufacturing company who has to manage his schoolwork for his courses at Rowan College of South Jersey. Reuter stated that her son, Ryan, had completed all of his high school coursework back in January and has currently been focusing on his studies at RCSJ. As a sophomore, Reuter’s second son, Griffin, completes his schoolwork with no prompting. There are so many people in such difficult circumstances right now, so small worries seem insignificant. Reuter indicated, “Other than the obvious concerns about our health and the safety of our family, we have been doing pretty well. We feel very lucky to have our jobs and our health. We have been very lucky to have this extra family time, as time seems to move so fast with our boys anymore!”
“This has been such a great reminder for all of us to appreciate the little things that we have always taken for granted: going out to eat, getting together with friends or visiting family members, going to church…we will certainly have a different perspective after this is all over, appreciate more every day,” Reuter conveyed. As a family, Reuter maintained that they have been playing cards, board games, watching TV, riding on their ATVs, and her boys have been playing video games together.
Mrs. Heather Thorson and her husband, Roger, are not working from home, because they are both essential workers. Their son, Joey is a high school senior, and Thorson identified the challenge of trying to keep a teenager on schedule. “We all know teenagers do not like getting up early for school and the biggest challenge has been getting him up to start his school work and stay on schedule and hoping he does not go back to bed and sleep until noon,” she said.
As a parent of a senior who is going away to college in a couple of months, Thorson finds it difficult to have to tell her son that he cannot go out to see friends that he has not had too much time with since Governor Murphy closed New Jersey schools. She also admitted, “If school does not reopen, they might not see each other before leaving for their first year of college.’’
For the Thorsons, the quarantine has put a lot of things into perspectives. A family member became very sick with COVID-19, and though this family member is home now and doing well, it is important to not take one thing for granted. Thorson only has one son, and when Joey is missing the milestones of senior year, his parents are as heartbroken, as he is. “I only have one child, so for me I will never get these moments back as a parent, the senior walk across the lacrosse field at halftime, the awards at the end of the year, or the pride watching your child walk across the stage to receive his diploma,” she stated. As a family, the Thorsons are spending more time together having movie nights and eating dinner together as a family. This is something that did not happen too often due to sports, work, and fire calls.
Mrs. Cynthia Valeski, a retired mathematics Special Education teacher for middle and high school students, expressed that she may not have to worry about working from home, but that she has really enjoyed homeschooling her son, Carter, who is in the sixth grade. Valeski’s husband is a Superintendent at a school in North Jersey and stated that the biggest challenge is having to increase the Internet speed because of virtual learning and holding meetings remotely.
“The pandemic/quarantine has made me more appreciative of my family. I’m so blessed to have such a wonderful family. Some of the things that we do together as a family dinnertime meals and movie nights at least once a week,” Valeski said.
Thomas E. Edmund, Jr., “TJ”, is a senior at Gateway Regional High School in Woodbury Heights, NJ and an intern at SNJToday.com. After graduation, he will be attending Rowan College of Southern New Jersey to begin his quest to become a journalist.