How’s your summer going? Next question! I am right there with you. 2020 has been the most turbulent, challenging and transformative year and we are only over half way through. The first and most important thing to say is that I hope you are all doing OK. Nobody with any sense of purpose can be thriving in the current climate. Whilst I appreciate that daily life wherever you are geographically located varies, I think we have seen life as we know it altered. I for one am forever changed by the pandemic and the events of 2020 as I imagine many of you are too. I want to thank all the people who have provided front line and essential services – you are the heroes in my eyes, you are the example I want to hold up to Little L. Whether you are the cashier at HEB, an Amazon driver, a nurse, a doctor etc. I want to say thank you and, since where I am located there does not appear to be any light at the end of the tunnel, I continue to thank and pray for you.
Another set of heroes about to step into the front line is our teachers. When I think of my formative years and people who helped guide/shape me, there are several teachers who certainly assisted. I often wonder why, as a global society, we don’t respect teachers more? If salaries were based on shaping future potential we would see a few extra zeros on those salary bands! Regardless, here in Texas I and many other parents/ caregivers are facing the same dilemma: should we send our babies (and I use that term because that is what they will always be to us,) back to school? This conundrum may not apply to you and I pray it never does; perhaps in your location the new “normal” has resumed and school looks a little different but an exciting place to get back to. Here in Texas, we are facing an average of 10k new cases a day and the infection curve is moving in the wrong direction. We listen to scientists, doctors and experts who suggest that reopening schools is madness, and our school district Superintendent who claims that his teachers and staff are “scared” of returning. Yet our politicians wish for schools to open. That leaves the problem of what the hell is the right thing to do?
Let me preface that I am a generally a pretty level-headed person, not much diverts me off course, but this dilemma has me up at night – what is the right thing to do? Little L attends a fabulous school which genuinely loves and cares for the kids; a school which has spent many months and dollars preparing the campus to be in line with CDC guidelines for reopening. A school which has held webinars, sent questionnaires and wants to keep the kids safe. There is nothing more that the school could do to keep our little ones safe. For a school environment during Covid 19, this will be a safe as it can be. And that’s the issue, right, CAN BE. The school is offering two options, in class tuition or at online home, for which I am eternally grateful but this causes the dilemma. If Covid 19 homeschool has taught me anything, it has confirmed my views on the immeasurable value of school and education. Teachers are amazing and their skills and patience blow my mind. My daughter needs to be in school. She has not been in school since the beginning of March and as an only child the social side is as important as the academic. I feel as if I am being asked to decide between her physical and mental health. What kind of decision is that for a mother to make? I see in Little L the need to get back to all that is familiar (as far as possible). I see her need for routine, structure and face to face instruction with anyone that is not Mama. I see what her friends can give her, albeit six feet apart, that I can not. She needs this, she needs to get out and grow independent of me, she needs to work on her confidence and to shape that away from her family. She is a good girl, she wears a mask and has done since day one of lockdown. She is a rule follower so I know she will do her very best. As I lie awake at night I contemplate so many different scenarios, I think of the people not fortunate enough to have an option to consider, those that must work, I think of people who are high risk, be that a child or loved one within the home. I think of the front line workers who have put themselves in danger’s way to keep things functioning, I am thinking of the medical staff who are living this and who are begging us not to take stupid risks. I think of the teachers who do not have the luxury of a choice. I hear the other side: the risks, the statistical rates, and I get it. If Covid 19 has demonstrated anything, it’s that it is entirely unpredictable. We are seeing families who are all facing different symptoms, unpredictable outcomes, and so much is still unknown about long term impacts. I also worry that if I keep her home at first and she joins the class one semester in, will all her friends be paired off? Will they be back at school having fun while she is stuck at home, looking at the two horns growing out of my head wishing she was with her fellow six year olds? I want to teach my daughter to be confident and thoughtful, I want to demonstrate to her that when faced with a difficult choice you have to consider all options and not to be scared. I want her to volunteer to be the first to take the vaccine and to be strong for her friends. We have to get on with the new “normal” and we have been doing that (while following the guidelines.) If wearing a mask and social distancing is safe enough to go the grocery store or park why not school?
So there is my dilemma and why I am feeling a little concerned. I am hoping the decision may be taken out of my hands and if numbers do not start to decline that may well be the case. Either way there is no right or wrong, I am quite sure people have a view and whatever Mr L and I decide for our daughter, some of you will agree or disagree. I would add that everyone’s circumstances are different and we should be mindful of that; I am writing this because if you are finding yourself with a similar decision to make I would be interested in your input or if your child is back at school how that is going? I also hoped that writing this down might provide me with clarity of thought as I am still not sure what to do. This is a decision I never believed I would have to make.
Friends, you are not alone.