On Tuesday, Amelia was cheerily working her way through her schoolwork for the day, Henry and Erin were working with the ABA therapist, and I was hard at work. Just another weekday.
For Amelia, this is a short school week because the teachers have an in-service on Thursday and Friday and the kids have off. And since Wednesdays right now are asynchronous learning, she really only has formal class on Monday and Tuesday.
She had been in a chipper mood all day, but in the afternoon, she suddenly came over to me, sat on my lap and started crying. I was listening in on a committee meeting online, but quickly yanked out my earbuds and asked what was wrong.
Through sobs, Amelia told me that her teacher informed her that, with all the changes coming up, this might be their last day together. With some kids returning to in person class and others staying remote, teachers are being shuffled and changes are coming.
My heart broke. Amelia loves her teacher. And she has been thriving in her distance learning environment, in no small part because of the work her teacher is doing. I hear Amelia engage and participate, and she looks forward to school every day.
But now, that looks likely to change. I wrote recently about how disappointed we were with the district’s changes to the distance learning program. We spoke to the principal and got some reassurance on a few things, but still had a bad feeling this news might be coming.
I held Amelia and cried with her. I remember the close bond I formed with so many of my teachers, and I know how sad this is for her. It is gut wrenching as a parent to know and understand the pain your child is feeling, but to be completely powerless to do anything about it.
I’ve probably said it before in this blog. I know Amelia is strong, positive and resilient. I’m just tired of making her have to prove it all the time. I know she can handle this, I just wish she didn’t have to.
It is the world we live in right now, and it sucks. As I’ve also written about here, I’m angry at the lackluster response to this pandemic that we’ve seen from leaders and our fellow citizens. Yes, I know we would have been coping with this on some level, but I’m quite certain it didn’t have to be this bad. Some want to maintain that COVID is a distant, one-in-a-million thing, and that it affects almost nobody. Well, as I held my daughter in the moment, I feel pretty confident saying it affects her, it affects me, and it affects all of us. Whether we like it, or want to admit it or not, the world has changed.
All decisions parents face right now are bad decisions. It’s all about each family doing their best to choose the lesser evil. Yes, it was our choice to keep Amelia in virtual learning, but even had she gone back, there was no guarantee that she’d have had the same teacher. And we made that decision the best way we knew how.
Like my good friend Katie just wrote in her guest blog about her family, we know that if one of us gets it, all of us will get it, and we just can’t gamble with that. We are raising two kids, one with special needs and therapists. We know people who have gotten COVID. Some recovered well, others struggled and are still dealing with lingering issues. We are barely floating by as a full team, and if one of us goes down and gets sick, it gets exponentially more complex.
So Erin and I did our best to console our daughter. We told her that she was justified in feeling sad. We told her stories about times we had to change teachers, and tried to tell her that she may love her new teacher just as much, but that doesn’t mean she can’t feel sad about having to deal with this change. Because she is awesome, she heard us, she took it in, and started to come around. So we looked to help cheer her up a little.
Amelia had gotten a nice Target gift card from Grandma and Grandpa Schneider for her birthday, so Erin took her on a little shopping expedition to use that. They grabbed their masks and were off, while Henry and I held down the fort. They returned, and Amelia made quite a haul. A couple of Barbie dolls, including Barbie’s pink haired friend, Daisy, and also film director Barbie, Play Doh, LEGOS and Twister! It struck me looking at what she brought home that everything in that bag existed in some form when I was a kid. We live in bizarre, mind warping times, but some things do stay the same.
Film director Barbie even came with her own screenplay.
Parts of the third act drag a little, but not bad.
Erin also grabbed some Halloween candy and goodies for the kids, and we ordered pizza for dinner. While I was getting the pizza, the kid enjoyed some yummy Ring Pops. After dinner, Henry asked me if he could have another Ring Pop.
“Buddy, I think that’s enough sweets for one day,” I said
Henry groaned a low groan. He looked back at the box, then looked down and muttered, I swear to you, “Dad. You let me down. I want sucker.”
It had been a tough day, sure, but I admit, it took all I had to not burst out laughing at that moment. First of all the pure maudlin drama of that was something for the record books. And second, I have to say that as a writer and geek about words and phrasing, hearing my somewhat speech delayed, ASD son come up with “Dad, you let me down,” over being denied a second sucker, struck me as pretty darn impressive.
I don’t know where he heard it, I don’t know where he got it from, but I’m at least 90 percent sure that’s what he said. And while I never want to let my kids down, I do respect his feelings on this. Ring Pops ARE good. And I am also proud for the rather advanced, if overly dramatic, expression.
Ups and downs. All of us are adjusting and trying to make the best of a difficult world right now.