I know things seem overwhelming right now. What we wouldn’t give for some semblance of normal – schlepping kids out for school shopping (sans masks), buying all the supplies, and wrapping up summer vacays. Instead, Delta variants of COVID cases are rising, mask mandates are in effect, and many parents still linger with vaccine questions – all of this creates a bit of angst as the calendar turns and school plans begin.
We’ve been doing hard things for quite some time – even before the pandemic hit. Parenting is tough. And over the last 18 months, we’ve learned valuable lessons about making it through hard times. And we’re not unscathed. And it hasn’t been without expense. And I know that you don’t feel strong each day. Me neither. But here’s what I know for sure – I’M GOING TO SAY IT LOUD SO THAT WE’LL ALL GATHER UP AND HEAR IT:
CHILDREN LOOK TO US AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE OK.
KIDS WILL BE OK IF WE’RE OK!!
I have a bunch of mixed emotions, as I’m sure all of you have right now as well. I wish the biggest problem we had right now was finding the right markers at Target, but that’s simply not the cards we’ve been dealt. So, I want to encourage some grace for ourselves and others.
We get to decide how to respond to this crisis – again. We missed the excited anticipation of heading to school last fall. And this year, kids are returning in masks to anxious schools and overwhelmed teachers welcoming children as best they can. But, let’s be clear, five year-olds starting kindergarten on google classrooms is not what we’d hope to see. So, going back in any capacity is welcome.
That said, I want to provide all of you a few straightforward reminders as we all head back to school, in any capacity.
Most importantly – we are all doing the best we can. Teachers, parents and students.
Teachers did not sign up for teaching during a pandemic. If a teacher is in-person, they are worried about their health, your kids’ health and their own family’s health. And they are trying to teach distracted, overwhelmed kids in meaningful ways. Please give our teachers grace and understanding. Several teachers have reached out to me in tears saying that this way of teaching feels like being a first year teacher all over again and they’re trying to figure everything out that’s new. Thank a teacher.
Parents did not sign up for this either. Parents are working, we are navigating tough health decisions, and we are worried about exposure. We’re trying to be medical educators for our kids, social directors for lonely, isolated kids and advocates for safety and personal decision-making. Parents – be kind to each other. If your friends are choosing a different path – be encouraging vs. discouraging or judgmental. Reach out to another mom and see if she’s ok. Just be there for each other.
Children look to us as to whether or not they are ok. And by this, I’m not saying you have to have your stuff together all the time. I get it – none of us are totally “ok” right now and there is a great deal of uncertainty. But, please understand that if we model to kids that things are uncertain, but that we’re doing our best in uncertainty, they will observe our ability to face adversity. If teachers embrace whatever circumstance they are in with positivity and guidance, children will pick up on their efforts. If parents model encouragement and support for school and teachers, children will know to trust educators. If we all acknowledge for our kids that this is “absolutely crazy and not what we expected but we’re going to make the best of it,” they WILL BE OK. We can show them how to face hard stuff and work through it. Facing adversity as a challenge versus a hardship builds resilience.
That’s what I mean when I say “kids will be ok if we’re ok.” What I mean is that kids will be ok if we model that, despite these uncertain times, we’re making the best of it.
If we have to choose between masks and schools or no school; between connected kids and isolated kids; between online teaching or in-person instruction; between uncomfortable masked faces vs. loneliness and disconnection – I know what I choose for kids.
So, be kind to each other. Show grace. Know that we are all doing our best in a very uncertain time. Pause. Breathe.
With kindness and compassion,