How Back To School Is A Little Different This Year
This week has been a big deal for our family, and many more like ours: it’s back to school time!
But, for many of us, it isn’t the joyful and exciting time that every other fall has been for mothers and fathers and children. After a nearly six month hiatus from school, routine, responsibility and everything else that goes along with it, the kids began their time back in the classroom.
The truth is: this entire thing sucks. Where we live, our kids are going to school on all different schedules: Noah is going 5 days a week in person, Sierra goes Mondays and Thursdays, and Daniel and Katelyn go on Tuesdays and Fridays, and then Sierra, Daniel and Katelyn have virtual days when they’re at home. Which means – I have ZERO days where the kids are all gone and I have time to myself.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m entirely grateful that the kids are physically going to school at all. I have so many friends who don’t even have the option for their kids to go, and seeing them struggle with homeschooling and virtual learning breaks my heart. It just sucks – there’s no winning this fall, for anyone, anywhere.
It’s definitely been a big adjustment for the kids: first, there’s no air conditioning in most of the classrooms (apparently school in Wisconsin started early this year, and normally it starts in September when it’s supposedly going to cool off). Secondly, they’re wearing masks just about all day long (even on the bus), and Sierra’s middle school classes got moved to the high school to space the kids out and make classroom sizes smaller. And third, the new high school all three of my older kids are going to is really big!
What’s made this year even that much more difficult has been the kids struggling to make friends and fit in. Noah is fitting in well with his football team, but he goes to a different school than everyone else; same thing for Noah and Sierra and their Scout troop. Daniel knows a few kids from work that go to school with him, but Katelyn doesn’t know anyone. The chaotic not every day schedule, the mandatory masks and social distancing have made back to school much more difficult for them since they don’t have built in friend circles quite yet. It’s hard when you can’t sit next to each other, or see each other smile. The masks are doing so much more harm than people realize, but, it’s unfortunately a part of our society right now.
I think the kids struggling to make friends and feel accepted and welcome is my biggest guilt right now. I’m so sorry that my kids have to constantly start over; it’s one of my biggest regrets as a mom and our life. It’s shaped them in both good ways and bad, and this year just happens to highlight the bad.
This year is especially disconcerting because Daniel is officially a senior. It’s hard to believe that my little 7 pound 9 ounce baby is a 6 foot tall, almost 18 year old young man on the brink of adulthood. But that’s a post for another day … at some point soon I need to do Danny’s senior portraits. I’m just not sure if I’m ready to do them yet – mentally. I’ve been putting it off for weeks, I think it might be some sort of denial that it’s really happening.
Anyway … if you’re reading this and you’re struggling with all the feelings that back to school brings up, I want you to know that you’re not alone. The fear, the anger, the unknown – I’m feeling all of those things, as well. This is a really difficult time for everyone – teachers, parents and students alike and I’m rooting for all of us to make it through the next few weeks and months with grace and hope.