Parents have always joked about chauffeuring their kids around town to various after-school activities, but now I feel like a chauffeur who’s been demoted.
Now that our son’s taekwondo classes and our daughter’s dance classes have started up again, I’m doing more driving than ever — except parents aren’t allowed to watch anything (or even go inside) because of COVID-19 precautions.
I don’t see what they kids are working on. I don’t get to chat with the other parents. I don’t get sneak peeks of any new skills or routines. I’m just an Uber driver, except no one tips me … or pays me at all.
I’m spending a lot of time driving around town, especially since I will often drop somebody off, drive home, wait around, drive back to get them and drive us all back home. It’s pretty strange, since I have done practically no driving at all since March.
But if I’m being totally honest, being restricted to driving — not watching — hasn’t been that bad …
As much as our family was looking forward to the new school year — after six long, uncertain months stuck at home — I still wasn’t sure how it would go.
I knew there would be a lot of changes, especially for our son (who was starting at a new school and entering junior high at a younger age than we’d ever expected). I wondered if they’d adjust to this very different school year, with its many regulations. I remained optimistic, but I was still curious as to how it would all play out.
Our son was all smiles when he returned home from his junior high orientation just now. His new school has a special Panther “handshake” — more of a fancy wave, actually, since no one can touch.
The cute little combination of fist bumps and claw hands reminded me that teachers are always going to find ways to keep school fun for their students, even during a global pandemic.
Students are going to be outdoors for almost all of their Phys. Ed. classes, even in light rain and snow. Their other classes will be outside sometimes, too, and they’ve even set up cool outdoor classrooms. This is something other countries have done for years, and the fresh air will be good for the kids!
While it will be sad not to have band or choir for the foreseeable future, at least students will still get to have music classes — they’ll just look a bit different.
Nope, they won’t eat in the cafeteria this year, but that doesn’t really matter. We grew up eating lunch at our desks, with those little milk cartons delivered straight to the classroom. It was great! You never had to worry about where you’d sit, either.
I didn’t even need to buy new backpacks this year, since last year’s packs have been sitting in the closet since the middle of March and still felt “new.” I’ll take the little wins where I can get them.
School routines will be different, but our kids are much more comfortable wearing masks and social distancing now. They’re washing their hands far more often, and squirting sanitizer onto their palms has become a normal part of going just about everywhere.
If our kids are sniffly or coughing, they’ll stay home. If they sniffle or cough at school, we’ll get a call to pick them up. Yes, there are going to be more sick days this year and it’s going to be a pain sometimes for working parents, but we’ll deal with it — it’s certainly better than having them at home for five and a half months straight again.
I’m tired of reading nothing but panicked articles and social media posts that make it sound like schools are ticking time bombs — practically flowing COVID-19 germs through the ventilation systems on purpose. I just want to explode with “Who knows?!” While I wouldn’t normally describe myself as an optimist, the crushing weight of this pandemic has shown me the importance of being hopeful, of not obsessing over the worst-case scenario.
We are not in the U.S., so you can’t compare us to what’s happening there. We are not getting thousands of new cases daily. We’re a province that’s been doing exceptionally well so far — requiring a two-week self-isolation for anyone coming in from outside the Atlantic Bubble, and making face masks mandatory in public spaces.
Even after a summer of people moving freely between four provinces, vacationing, camping, dining, shopping and socializing, we are doing OK right now. (*Knocks on wood*) We are being cautious. We are (for the most part) following the rules, and we’ve been rewarded with low case numbers and entire stretches of having no cases at all.
Yes, of course, cases could rise again and we may have to move to a combination of in-person learning and virtual learning — but that’s better than nothing. And if things get really bad and we’re back to virtual learning only, at least we got the chance to try in-person learning again.
We’re sending our kids back to school, staying positive for their sake and being especially patient with the teachers and administrators working so hard to make it all happen.
We’re sending our kids back to school, hoping for the best but quietly preparing for our kitchen table to turn back into a subpar classroom.
“This is what I’m going to wear on the second day of school!” our eight-year-old daughter told me excitedly, spinning around in a pair of pink Old Navy acid-washed jeans and a pale blue top.
I asked her why that outfit was for the second day of school — not the first day — if she liked it so much. She replied “Well, I have to wear a dress on the first day, don’t I?”
Ever since her first day of preschool, at age three, our daughter has happily put on the handmade dresses and hair bows I’ve sewn for her. She’s enjoyed being a part of the process — choosing fabric, looking through new pattern options — and certainly reveled in the attention she gets from everyone who sees her in these custom outfits.
Her tastes changed as she got older, and I changed my patterns to accommodate that. Instead of cutesy cotton A-line dresses with sashes tied in big bows, she steered me towards longer, twirlier dresses made from stretch fabrics. I went along with it, just to keep sewing for her …
If I could write this face-down, it would be symbolic. That’s because I am so far beyond cutesy stories about ways to have a magical summer and plan special activities for your kids.
That’s not what this column is – this is me, digging down deep, throwing you a couple of random life preservers in the hopes that we’ll all get through the next four-ish weeks.
I am exhausted. Truly. We are in parental damage control mode, where it’s all about just surviving the next month and getting to the finish line that is Sept. 8 – the first day of school.
It’s been almost five months straight of temporary layoffs and then getting rehired (both me and my husband rode that super fun roller coaster, luckily not at the same time), struggling to work from home full-time without any childcare, financial worries, bored and depressed children, agoraphobia, oh, and crippling anxiety about the virus that’s killing hundreds of thousands of people.
Forgive me if I’m not in the mood to invent a five-minute craft or round up my top 10 places to go for family fun. But I do have some ideas for you, I swear – a few suggestions for getting through these last long, nervous weeks until school starts.