Stay-at-home challenges — and perks
James Wynn and Theresa Timmons, seventh graders at the Garrison School, are friends through thick and thin. If the pandemic is the thick, their siblings might be the thin.
Until the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 closed schools in mid-March, the two spent a lot of time together. Now, their get-togethers are only virtual.
“We Facetime a lot,” Theresa said. “And we call each other pretty much twice a day.” Instagram, Snapchat and texting also help. “But it’s not the same,” she admitted.
“He’s there to talk to when I need him,” Theresa said. “He’s funny, and he has a good heart.”
“Theresa has always helped me,” James said. “She likes talking to me and helps me with both school and social problems.”
Both recall that, at school, they tormented each other. “We’d make each other laugh,” James said. “It’s harder now; we can’t see each other.”
While aggravating each other isn’t the same, their lives aren’t free of irritants.
“My sister really bugs me,” Theresa said. “I get really annoyed.”
James, who has a younger brother and sister, can relate.
“They got on my nerves the first day!” he said. “We all get frustrated sharing the computers; it’s a huge fight to get our work done.” The squabbling is “a big hassle” for his parents, he said.
But both also see advantages to their isolation.
Theresa said she enjoys spending more time with her family. “And it’s easier to get schoolwork done,” she said. “There are fewer distractions.”
Both work on school assignments up to two-and-half hours each day and have periodic one-on-one video conferences with teachers. They agreed that the lack of direct access to their educators has been a challenge.
Theresa relishes her new schedule. She used to be up by 6:30 a.m., going to bed by 11 p.m. on school nights. She now stays up as late as 3 a.m., she conceded, often sleeping in until noon. “I like being able to stay up late!” she said with a laugh.
TV and video games take up a good portion of her time, although she has expanded her horizons. “I never liked reading, but now I’ve gotten into it,” she said. “And I like to draw and do more of that with my little sister now.” She also enjoys doing her mom’s hair because she lets her experiment with “different cool styles.”
When he’s not on the computer, James is a devotee of the TV programs Fallen Angel, The Office and Designated Survivor.
He also follows current events. “I keep up with the news,” he said, listing The New York Times, Washington Post and MSNBC as his favorite news media.
“Yeah, James is a real news junkie,” Theresa said, commenting that she watches the news at least every other day. “I love News 12 Westchester,” she said.
They discuss COVID-19 with their families but both say it doesn’t come up often with their friends. “It was big at first, but not now,” James said. “It’s not a hot topic with most middle-schoolers.”
Theresa said she worried a lot about the coronavirus at first. “I couldn’t sleep,” she said. “But I’ve started to feel better, and I believe they’ll find a vaccine.”
She doesn’t think the crisis will end by summer. “I hope we can go back to school in September.”
James isn’t keen about giving up the freedom he has at home. “I like it here with my own schedule,” he said.