I’ve been watching the calendar, trying to plan all the things and nothing at all. I’ve realized that in just a few short weeks, the kids go back. Routines will abound. Pools will close. It is as bittersweet as it is welcomed.
With that said, I’ve been struggling to find my internal back-to-school motto. The thing I repeat to myself on end to get through. In part, my struggle is because there’s so much information to ingest; there’s so much going on in the world too. To think about school, would be to push aside all that lies on my desk and in my heart. It feels like too tall of an order just yet. So for the most part, I’m internally gaming my words and trying to sort through it all quite slowly.
Last year, my motto was, “Prepare for the worst. Hope for the best.” And it really helped me travel through hybrid school, then remote, then hybrid, then full-time school, eventually. I knew nothing past the days and weeks ahead, and my expectations (and support system) matched that reality. But what does a full-time masked NYC school year look like?
“Making the coming school year safer starts with letting go of normal,” says Vox. This is a truth that my own children are beyond accustomed to and maybe, at times, even tired of hearing me prep them for. I know that for newly 7-year-old Oak, masks, daily morning health screenings, and possible quarantines will be his normal associated with grade school. As the days move closer, I’ve surrendered my hopes of wild and fantastic city field trips for his young classmates, and I’ve prepared River that her only one may be at the end of the school year, to celebrate the end of her lower grade-school journey.
A dear friend sent me a photo of her kiddos attending their first day with signs, and the wild back-to-school butterflies I get as a parent were allowed to take shape. New haircuts, new shoes, and the way I notice on that first day how much they’ve grown and matured always moves me. As I am sure it does for many parents.
“More than 21,000 virus tests of students and staff have been done, resulting in a minuscule 0.13 positive test rate.” writes Emma Goldberg and Eliza Shapiro as they checked in on how parents and faculty are feeling about the return to school. I read this and I look at my kiddos counting down the days and wearing their masks, and I keep coming up with gratitude. Maybe that’s it? That’s the big thing I’ve been searching for. I’m grateful they’re okay. I’m grateful they have this opportunity. I’m just grateful, and through it all this coming school year, I want to continue to be. No matter what.
Do you have a back-to-school motto of your own?