He Whakaaro When a Fortnite feels like six weeks

Jul 7, 2020

Nā Ward Kamo

Columnist Ward Kamo spent the COVID-19 lockdown at his home in Tāmaki Makaurau with his wife Agnes and their five rangatahi, aged between nine and 21. In this issue he shares the highs and lows of life in the whānau bubble.

I’ve just found out we are going into full-on lockdown. I managed to get back from the Chatham Islands in time and I’m pumped. I have a lockdown plan that will be the envy of all parents. My kids will be better taught, better trained, just all-round better people under my home learning regime. Four weeks they say. It’ll be a breeze – or so I thought.

Week 1

Everyone at the dining table by 9am.

Great start. Learning is now about to begin. Hang on, no learning plans from the school – not a problem – Dad will create them. Each will produce a research project by Friday, among them: Henry VIII, Macbeth, and my son is doing pirate Henry Avery – damn I’m good. And I’ll find a website that has age appropriate maths and English and get them on it.

Somehow it’s 4pm and I’ve only just started my own work, but better get the kids outside and active. I’ll alternate running and netball specific training – and my son will just have to join in because I’m not doing a rugby specific one. I’m not sure why teachers moan so much about teaching our kids – this is easy.

And I’ve started a rēwena bug to make bread – such a good Māori.

Week 2

Yelling at the kids to get to the dining table. It’s 8:55am and they are not even awake. WTH? They grudgingly arrive at 9:30am sleepy and grumpy, but after more yelling and low-level threats they are at the table learning. I’ll get the routine back on track tomorrow.

Kids are doing new research projects: Kate Sheppard, another Mary MacKillop and my boy Tahupotiki (he is named after the tupuna). This teaching stuff is still OK and frankly I’m clearly better than the kids’ teachers.

Hang on, what’s that noise? It sounds like shooting and explosions. Bloody hell my boy has worked out how to alt tab between programmes and is pretending to learn when he’s actually on Fortnite – hold on a minute, what is Fortnite? Little brat! I’d put him in detention – but that’s what the beggar wants “cause I’m bored, Dad.”

Still, the girls are going good. So there’s hope yet.

Haven’t really started work yet – but that’s OK. I’ll just work tonight.

Oops, 2am and I’m still watching Netflix in between YouTube and playing Toon Blast. No worries, quick lie-in and I’ll pick up tomorrow and catch up.

Oh, and the rēwena bug is looking anaemic – is it meant to? I have no idea what I’m doing here.

Week 3

Yelling at the kids to get to the dining table. It’s 10:30am and they’re not even awake. WTH. They grudgingly arrive at 11:45am – angry with me – little sods. Don’t they get that Dad is a master teacher as well as superman lockdown employee?

After some high level threats that include querying whether their parents were married before they were born, they start on their home schooling. Is that Fortnite I hear? I yell at my son to get off Fortnite only to be told its not. “It’s Road Blocks, Dad.” Another blasting that includes the line “why can’t you be like your sisters?”

And then the hammer fall – “They’re playing with me, Dad.”

Did you know they can log into that game and play each other from their computers – and my lot have been doing it for a week while pretending to learn maths and English? I’ve accused my wife of being the kids’ mum. She’s strongly denying it and wants a maternity test to prove they didn’t come from her. She actually has me convinced.

Bloody hell, I forgot to get them out running and netball training. Well there’s next week. My 11 and 13-year-old girls are still on track to be Silver Ferns, I reckon. However, I can’t get my boy to run with a rugby ball. Each time he catches it he stops dead in his tracks and tries to pass it. I may have hammered the “don’t step” a little too hard.

My neck is hurting from being hunched over my laptop all day in between relentless “Zui” (that word) and yelling at the kids to “get off Road Blocks”.

And my first rēwena looks like naan bread.

Week 4

I’m pleading with the kids to get up. Threats don’t seem to work anymore. It’s like they know there is no substance to them. I mean where do you go after threatening capital punishment to any child that isn’t at the table “in the next 10 minutes”?

Lesson plans are all but gone. I’m tuning into my boy’s Zoom hui he’s now having with his teacher. She sounds so chirpy and positive.

Not really doing the netball training anymore. Activity consists of me yelling from the couch to “get your running shoes on and get round that block” and then muttering “lazy little beggars” as I eat a biscuit watching Netflix/YouTube and playing Toon Blast.

Can someone explain to me how sitting at a kitchen table doing relentless “Zui” (that bloody word) makes you tired? They literally suck the life out of you.

My wife and I fight over who does the grocery shopping. Just like we used to before lockdown. Only now we fight over who gets to go – anything to get out of the house. The strange thing is before lockdown I ended up being forced to grocery shop, and now in lockdown I’m forced to stay at home while my wife grocery shops. I’m starting to wonder who wears the pants in my house.

Why did I volunteer to teach the kids, I ask myself? Oh, it’s not all been a disaster. They may not be smarter, better humans despite my best efforts, but they kick kumu in Road Blocks – just saying!

One bright light – the rēwena bread has finally risen and doesn’t taste half bad.

Week 5

Just like week 4.

Week 6

Just like week 5.

Week 7

I just found out the kids are finally going back to school on Monday. Oh thank the good lord! Teachers are amazing – perhaps the biggest lesson of lockdown – but I knew that all the time.