Her voice travels up the stairs, along the hallway, passing the linen closet and finding its final destination beneath the small crack between the hallway floor and my bedroom door. A voice I am very familiar with. A voice I’ve heard for all of my nine years.
I’m dreaming that I’m walking through the woods, alone, feeling as if I had no place to go. “Dewey, it’s time to smell the day,” my mom sings out from downstairs, like she has many times before.
But this time, I really had no place to go. Not to basketball practice, or an early morning football game. Not a soccer or volleyball game or even a tennis match. Not even to Track practice to help strengthen my young body.
Not even Martha Horton elementary is opening today. I’m already missing the crowds of students in Horton Elementary hallways, and the occasional recognition from classmates and teammates. “Hey, what’s up, Dew?”, or “Dewey, what time is practice?”
Again, mom sings her favorite wake-up tune. Again, her soft voice creeps underneath my bedroom door. “Dewey, it’s time to smell the day.” Mom knows that the morning is my favorite time of day.
The morning sunlight shines into my bedroom while a tranquil breeze blows the curtains that hang above my window. The sounds of squirrels disporting themselves on the roof, leaping from the branches of the nearby trees. But still, today is different. What is this strange feeling I’m sensing?
Dallying around while still lying beneath my favorite sports blanket, stretching my little toes before taking my first steps of the day. I reluctantly expose my right leg, allowing my foot to hang just above my bedroom floor. Today is not a normal day, I’m wondering, while staring up at the white-painted ceiling. An eerie silence is surrounding Doesville. No sounds of waiting school buses or honking horns from passing cars.
Ms. C., my school teacher at Martha Horton elementary, calls it, “Social Distancing!”
The toy chest on the other side of my bedroom, that my dad gave me for my birthday, suddenly begins bouncing up and down uncontrollably. Bang, boom, bang, the chest bounces around. My friends in the chest, I guess, wanting to come out.
“Coach, can we come out?” a voice from inside calls out. It is Cross Over, who never fails to be first. Others quickly chime in with their shouts, wanting to come out. “I don’t think this is Ms. C’s idea of social distancing, Coach. “C’mon Coach, say the word so we can smell the day too.”
“Guys, we can’t go out today,” I replied, looking in the direction of the toy chest. I didn’t think they would understand social distancing: but neither did I, I guess.
Ms. C. spent days and weeks explaining social distancing to us fourth graders. We even did a class project on things to do while being home all day. But, what nine year old wants to be home all day, not being able to see my friends Big Bang or Cool Trevor? What a bummer. I’m even starting to miss Fussie Fran, if that was ever possible, I thought.
“Coach Does, I think you should let them out before they arouse all of Doesville”, Optiks suggests, while glancing down at me from the top of my dresser, his favorite place. Optiks always made some sort of sense because he was a sports doctor in his heydays. So he says.
Most mornings, I’d spring out of bed making a gymnastic 10-point landing, ready to ‘smell the day’, as mom says. Not really sure what she means by it, but I always enjoy hearing her singing voice. My left foot follows the right, hanging just above the floor. Both feet hesitating, as if they knew the floor was too cold.
I jump from my bed; “arrrggghhh”, I sound out, aghast by the cold floor. I begin taking my first steps of the day. Dallying toward the bouncing, rumbling toy chest, I ask Optiks, “should I keep social distance from these guys, too?” walking toward the bouncing toy chest, still not fully understanding social distancing. “I don’t think it applies to them, Coach Dewey”, Optiks answers.
As I slowly move closer to the bouncing toy chest, I whisper the magic word, “Dew110”, carved on the front that unlocks the toy chest. But, the chest door does not open. “LOUDER!” a chorus of voices sings from inside the chest.
I take a deep breath. “DEW110”, I yell out, sounding like a nine year old with an attitude. And, before I could close my mouth, the chest door crashes open. BANG! Like angry bees, a swarm of sports stuff came flying out from inside the toy chest.
My bedroom now teeming with all types of sports stuff, waiting to go outside and play with me. Hundreds of blinking eyes focusing all on me, their newly-anointed coach. They called themselves Team Dew110. Each one ready to share lore of life experiences and adventures with me.
“LET’S PLAY BALL”, Batter Up calls out, as Bend-It sings, “Gooooaaaal”. “Ooppps, another ankle breaker”, says Cross Over. One cliché after another.
“Guys, guys”, I call out. “We can’t go outside”, I tell Team Dew110, sounding disappointed, while an ocean of eyes follow my every move around the bedroom.
“WHAT?”, again, Team Dew110 sings out like a chorus. “Because of something called social distancing” I quickly reply, with a pissed-off look on my face, acting like I now understand what social distancing meant. But I didn’t.
“Coach Dewey, please allow me”, says Optiks. Leave it to Optiks to know what social distancing is. He seems to know just about anything, since he reads everything. __________________________________________________________________
Optiks positions himself high on top of my dresser, looking somewhat like a president who’s about to make an historical speech. His intense eyes slowly scan the bedroom. He begins explaining the importance of social distancing to me and all of my friends from my toy chest. Optiks explains how social distancing will keep my friends like Big Bang, Cool Trevor, Shy Annda and Fussie Fran too, healthy and safe. Carefully pronouncing each word, as if to emphasize the importance to all in my bedroom.
“My friends,” says Optiks, sounding somewhat presidential, “social distancing helps keep Coach Does healthy and safe from the Corona Virus. Social distancing stops the virus from traveling between people and hopefully stops the virus from spreading.”
“Sounds like a job for Team Dew110, Coach,” says, Cross Over interrupting Optiks.
“Not this time,” Optiks replies to Cross Over. Optiks looks over at me as I sit on the edge of my bed near the bedroom window. His eyes looking more serious. “Coach Does”, he calls out my name sounding more serious. “Social distancing also keeps your friends and family safe and healthy too, from the virus”. Optiks continues to speak for the next 15 or 20 minutes, I guess. It seems he has the room’s attention, all eyes now looking up at him on the dresser top.
The social distancing news makes everyone a little antsy as they begin moiling around the bedroom, wondering what to do next. Well, me being the team Coach, as they call me, I guess it was up to me to lead Team Dew110 on our next adventure. So I make some suggestions on what we can do to stay busy at home.
“Okay Team Dew110,” I call out, sounding somewhat excited, “here’s what we can do since we can’t go outside. We can play video games that many of you guys star in, and then we can read some books together. I know some great ones. And when I get tired, I can listen to more of your sports stories, when each of you played with other great players. There’s plenty we can do,” I said to my team, with a new sense of enthusiasm and passion.
“I’m a little hungry now”, I said, as I look around my bedroom. I stood up off my bed with a new spring in my step, walking toward my bedroom door and feeling better. “Guys, I’m gonna start my day by helping my mom cook breakfast,” I say as I open the bedroom door.
“Hey Big Guy, six feet please”, Cross Over says to First Down, as I close my bedroom door behind me.
By Thomas M. Kinslow, Co-Author, Dewey Does Books
Inspiring Kids to #Dew110