Life slams us with ups and downs and mixed emotions during even the best of times. It follows that those ups and downs would be enhanced during a time when a pandemic rages, people have been inside for months, lives and livelihoods are in danger, and basic concepts of reality seem to be defined by opinion, belief and who is yelling the loudest.
A good indicator of how far down the rabbit whole we are is the fact that the Air Force released honest to god footage of UFOs and it barely made news. I suppose at this point an alien invasion might be a nice change of pace. Particularly if they were cool and funny aliens, like from planet Ork.
So yeah, we’re all dealing with a lot these days. The main reason I started this blog what seems like ages ago was that I wanted to at least capture at least my perspective of this time. Indeed, what parents are having to carry right now is unprecedented and difficult. Simultaneously being a parent, and a productive employee, and a teacher all while trying to remain sane in insane times is a lot to carry. And that’s just those of us who are reasonably lucky. I think often of those who have even greater challenges, whether that’s health, employment or something else entirely.
There is plenty written about the grown-up challenges in the age of COVID, but I also think often about how this affects our kids. I know kids are adaptable in many ways, but what a strange thing to have to adapt to. Life as they know it has been turned upside-down, too.
For most part, our kids have been amazingly resilient through it all. They play and laugh and smile, but you can also see the stress come out in subtle ways. Amelia is an extremely social child, and misses her friends and outside family a lot. Near the beginning of this, she would love getting on FaceTime with people, but now when offered she often politely declines. She still talks often of the people she misses, but tends to lean more toward putting off calls and just focusing on what’s here. I get that, too.
And school is another example. Last week I wrote about how she was really struggling at the end, and getting tired of all the homework. We helped her power through, always telling her the end was in sight. The last day of school is this Thursday. She is excited, and even got all her homework for the week done early. But she’s also talked about how much she misses her teacher.
Today, I overheard Amelia in her morning Zoom class, and at the end the teacher offered to stick around a little longer if any of the kids wanted to stay. Amelia immediately raised her hand. It turned out she was the only one. She had a nice, one-on-one conversation with her teacher. They talked about things they liked to watch, things they want to do in the summertime, and regular things like that.
Amelia’s teacher is incredible. She is so sweet and so wonderful and has been such a great presence in the life of our daughter. We’re going to miss her almost as much as Amelia. And I’m glad the two of them could have that moment together.
That afternoon was the designated pickup at school. Parents could drive up and pick up the belongings that their kids had in school since they went on “extended spring break” back in March and we all assumed they’d be back in a few weeks.
Erin took Amelia in the drive-through line to pick up her things at school. When she returned, Amelia was happy to see all her stuff. Some books she had been working on, cool art projects, supplies, and other odds and ends. Most notable, though, a little bag of candy and a kind note from Amelia’s teacher, telling her what a great student she was and how proud she is of her.
As Amelia read it, I think Erin and I got more emotional than she did. Amelia was super happy about the candy, and bounced away, happy.
Then a little while later, I saw Amelia sitting by herself, staring at that letter from her teacher. She sat quietly for quite a while.
She didn’t have to say anything, I knew how much that letter meant to her, and how hard this all is for her. She is excited to be done with school, but sad to move on. Life is like that, I don’t care how old you are. These kinds of transitions are bittersweet anyway, and so much more so when you can’t get a hug from that teacher who meant so much to you.
This pandemic affects every one of us. Young and old. And let me be clear, I am glad that the schools have been closed. It is absolutely the right thing right now to protect the health of our kids and our communities. I recognize, however, that there are costs. Not being in school impacts kids, too. There is no ideal option here, but I will always incline toward basic safety.
We don’t yet know what fall will bring, but I’m sure I’m like many parents who want to see a return to school but need to see the necessary safety measures in place to do it right. I just finished researching and writing a piece about the future of common spaces, and I can tell you that in many ways, we aren’t ready. We are going to have adjust our idea of things, at least for the foreseeable future.
In the meantime, all we can do is do our best to adapt and adjust. Change can be hard and it has it costs, but there are upsides, too. We can come out better on the other side. Humans are creatures of habit, and this can be hard to remember sometimes, but adaptability is one of our species’ greatest assets. I see it in my little ones every day.