A (Different) New School Year

Hi friends. Yep, I’m still here and I somehow managed to survive The Summer of 2020. It’s been forever since I’ve written anything. Honestly, it feels like this summer has been just one never-ending boring day, and I’ve had little inspiration. I know I’m not alone.

First Born, Young Son and Warrior Princess start seventh grade, fourth grade and kindergarten respectively this week. I had been looking forward to that day for years. It was going to be my first day in over twelve years of having more than two and a half hours to myself. But COVID-19 dashed that fantasy, as the inmates will be doing eLearning for the first trimester.

What an excruciating journey it has been to get this point. For weeks, the Warden and I had been weighing our options on having the inmates physically go back to school or keeping them home for remote learning. Like a lot of parents, it felt like it was impossible to make the “right” decision. Normally the Warden is an extremely decisive guy. He collects as much data as possible, thoroughly analyzes said data and makes his decision. Boom. Done. Onto the next problem. But even he struggled and changed his mind multiple times each week. (Yeah, pal! See how it is to live in MY head??!)

It wasn’t even a decision of picking the lesser of two evils. It was just deciding between two evils. On one hand, we desperately wanted to have our kids back in school — to be with their friends, teachers and peers and get all the benefits and joys of in-person learning…and albeit selfishly to actually get a few hours of peace and quiet, for the love of God! I love my children, but I really need to love them from afar for awhile!

On the other hand, the thought of all of the risks of sending them back either on a full-time or a hybrid schedule, much less what that would even look like, was crippling. Proper mask wearing, maintaining six feet of social distancing, constant sanitizing, no collaboration or playing with their peers, guaranteed cycles of quarantining…ugh!

What kept me up at night was the thought of the significant risks this posed for their beloved teachers and school staff. Having to put “Update will and life insurance policy” should NOT be on their back-to-school to do list!! (Seriously. A friend who works in a neighboring school district was told this by her administration!) Since I have the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom, wasn’t it my moral responsibility to keep my kids at home to ease the burden of my three kids on the school, teachers, and other families who desperately need their kids to be back at school so they can be employed?

In the end, our district decided on 100% eLearning for at least the first trimester. Of course there are a lot of angry parents, who are now thrust into an impossible situation. It makes me want to cry at the thought of Warrior Princess not getting the magical kindergarten experience every kid deserves. (That girl is ready to kick ass and chew bubble gum!) The constant worrying over what this is doing to my kids’ social/emotional health is making me ready to break out in hives at any moment.

At this point, however, I’m at peace with it. As with all things COVID-19 related, there is very little anyone can control. But how I react to it is something I can control. We’ve been frank and honest about it with the inmates — it is going to be different, challenging and surely there will be glitches along the way. But we can do this. It’s not forever and it will help us appreciate school even more when we finally do get to go back.

Instead of focusing on how much it’s going to suck, I’m trying to think about some of the positives and plan on ways to make it fun. Here are some of my ideas:

Less Rushing in the Morning: Granted, they’re still going to have to get up and ready to be on time for their first class, but there won’t be the stress of getting ready to catch the bus. No waiting outside in the rain or cold and no weird bus smell either.

Wardrobe: While our rule is they have to get dressed everyday and may not wear what they slept in, they can put on a clean T-shirt, jammy pants and cozy socks. No shoes required.

Lunch & Snacks: They can still choose hot or cold lunch (and will even help plan the weekly lunch menu). Want to use your lunch box? Sure! Thursdays can be Brunch for Lunch, Fridays can be Pizza Day (and if they’ve had a good week, we can have it delivered from Luigi’s!) No nut allergies here at the Pediatric Psych Ward (thankfully!) — bring on the peanut butter! Although they will probably have to deal with a cranky lunch lady.

The New sChOOL clASSroom: We’ve tried to create a fun work area for them. But you’ll have to wait until my next post when I’ll tell you all about it.

They’ve Been Preparing for This: People have asked me if I’m worried about the inmates being online all day long. Yes, but they’ve been preparing for this all summer with the copious amounts of time I’ve allowed them to be on electronics. They’ve really built up their stamina for their long days of eLearning. I’ll call it a win…or just my way of justifying lousy, lazy parenting on my part. Hey. At least with eLearning they’ll be getting smarter instead of wasting brain cells on watching asinine YouTubers all day long!

In the end, I hope what comes out of this is resilient children who have learned to make the best out of a difficult situation. By making it as fun as possible, giving them lots of love and assuring them they are being kept safe, we can do this. In the meantime, let’s all set good examples for our children: to give each other grace, to be kind and to care for one another. Always. Oh…And wear a mask, for the love of Nellie!

4 comments

  1. Edie · August 16

    If anyone can make this work it is you and your family. This will be such an unusual year. I feel my anxiety rise every time I think about it.
    The best thing for the 4th grade inmate is that there is already a great bond between inmate and teachers!
    If there is anything you need you know all of your teachers, past and present, are here for you.
    😘

    Liked by 1 person

    • mypediatricpsychward · August 16

      I was so relieved for Young Son — it will be a mich more successful year for him. And one of the only things bringing me peace is knowing that the inmates are surrounded by amazing teachers.

      Like

  2. Brandon · August 16

    I will say this as a teacher…..you should see my socially distant classroom…..this is nothing like the school we or they know……all ideas of normal school are out the window…..the social emotional argument is a good point but with social emotional…..the go back to the school they thought they knew but totally don’t and probably create distrust of all their peers due to their forced social distance or stay home and have forced social distance but still yearn to see their peers without creating the distrust of those around them and possobly be better later and create more social wanting people…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • mypediatricpsychward · August 16

      That’s what I’ve been saying throughout this all. There is no “normal” to go back to for a long time. When we were talking with First Born about the possibility of going back, which he initially wanted to do, he asked, “What if kids aren’t wearing their masks correctly? What am I supposed to do?” Good question. The stuff that makes going to school in person won’t be there. No sitting next to friends at lunch, no collaborating in the classroom with peers and teachers. Every scenario, whether full, hybrid or learning remotely is extremely stressful for everyone.

      Like

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