In thinking about my ultimate goal for my blog, the main goal is always to help people. To at least try to help people with what they are going through. As I scrolled my Facebook feed this morning it was flooded with articles about if the kids should go back to school or not. Should they wear masks? Should they wear masks all day?
I am living in a summer bubble right now. I am currently watching my daughter Lillie do a swim lesson in my parent’s pool. Next is her math tutor. At least we know she is doing math once a week. I need to step up my game and have Lillie start her day every day with a good book and some math games. The summer bubble tends to take me away from schoolwork.
We are enjoying our carefree summer days. If I stay with the present summer moment, I don’t feel stress or anxiety over what’s to come. One of the biggest stress relief tips that I can ever give to you is to stay present focused. My girls Ella and Lillie are spending a ton of time in my parent’s pool and my son is in gaming heaven every day. I’m trying to avoid the big questions of what school will bring in the Fall because we simply just don’t know yet.
I am hearing so many arguments for the kids to go back and so many arguments for the kids not to go back to school. Most working parents want their kids to go back to school. They are wondering what they are going to do with their children if there is virtual school again. I totally understand where they are coming from. I have also heard many people say that school is not daycare. I think our Governor gets it that it’s very hard for working parents to not have schools open. Our society is used to the kids in school all day five days a week.
Let’s think about it from a teacher’s perspective. First and foremost, I want ALL of you teachers to know that you are not forgotten. We are not just thinking about our kids. We are thinking about you too. We want you and our children to be safe. It is on my mind. My heart goes out to every teacher who is probably sitting there planning for a few different scenarios for the Fall. Let’s be honest here. Even if the kids go back to school in September, do we think the schools are going to stay open all year? The teachers are probably worrying about their health. They are probably worrying about their own children. They are probably worrying about their students and how best to teach them. I want you to know that I feel for all of you. I know that you are all doing the very best that you can in these circumstances. I feel for the teachers, administrators, parents, and students. I know the anxiety that you are all trying to cope with right now. I don’t know your exact scenario, but I do know that most of us are stressed.
As I did my nightly walk with my husband last week, I told him that I wasn’t stressed. I told him that I am home with our kids and that if they had to do virtual lessons again at home that it would be ok. I told him that I was trying to just go with the flow and see what happens. That was his confident secure calm wife that night. There’s a reason I never finished this as my blog post for last week. It’s because I felt pretty calm last week. I also want you to know that even because I am home with my children, I know a lot of you are not and my heart goes out to you.
Let us fast forward to a week later. I receive an email from the Superintendent telling parents that our kids will be wearing a mask all day at school. I felt my anxiety rising more and more as I read the letter. There is an opening committee for my school district made up of administrators, teachers and parents. I did not volunteer to be on this committee. I was kicking myself, while reassuring myself that just because I volunteered doesn’t mean I would have been chosen. Also, are they going to do a ton of work and meetings and then have the Governor tell them exactly what they have to do anyway? I don’t know. I’m so thankful that they have formed this committee. I think it’s necessary. I’m also in total shock that they think they are going to get kids to wear masks all day.
I know what some of you are thinking. You are thinking “Of course they are going to wear a mask all day.” You are wondering how I thought they were going to keep all the students and staff safe. In my naïve bubble, I was hoping that they would figure out a way to keep kids six feet apart and prevent them from having to wear masks all day. I thought that they would have to wear a mask in the hallway but not all day. I have to admit I freaked out a little when I read this letter. “How am I going to send them back to school?” I cried to my husband.
I have told you before and I will tell you again, my husband Seth and I couldn’t be more different from each other. The letter didn’t even phase him. “They will do whatever they need to do, or you will keep them home,” he responded to me so calmly and matter of fact. My jaw dropped open as I looked at him in disbelief. My rock. The calm steady force in my life who doesn’t tend to get rattled by things. When he’s rattled, I step up and act as his calming force, but it’s usually him being the rock. I know he is going to read this, and I want him to know that I recognize this about our marriage, and I appreciate him.
Let’s go back to thinking our children are going to wear a mask all day. I want to tell you about me wearing a mask to my grocery store. I walk in, do my shopping, check out, step outside and rip my mask off. The whole process is an hour or less and I can’t wait to tear my mask off. I can feel my breathing being impeded.
Let’s now talk about our children touching their faces ALL day long. That worries me too. When my seven year old wears her mask I have to keep telling her to keep her hands off her face. Where are they going to throw the mask if it isn’t on their face? How germy are these masks? Are they coated in germs from the air and my child is touching it? You can tell my mama thoughts are swirling.
My mother told me her neighbor works at the grocery store and wears the mask for 9 hours a day. My friend is a hairdresser and will wear a mask for a 12 hour day. I know that doctors and nurses are all wearing masks. I know that we do what we have to do but I can honestly say I really don’t know how they are doing it. I am not saying I won’t wear a mask. I am not saying masks don’t help. I am saying that I don’t feel I am breathing as well in a mask and I worry about my kids wearing one all day.
If you are the parents who are going to send your kids back to school no matter what and you have already decided this, I give you so much credit. I know that you are doing what you feel is best for your family. I know some of you just want your kids back in school for so many reasons. We are wondering if the virtual learning is effective. We are worried about their social and emotional needs. With the ways in which school is changing I don’t know if it will even meet their social and emotional needs? We will find out. I trust our schools to do the very best that they can.
If you are the parents who have already decided that you are homeschooling your kids and doing your own thing, I give you so much credit. I know that you have made the decision that you feel is best for your children and that you are already lesson planning. I know that you are gung-ho on giving your children the best possible education that you can give them. I bow to you.
If you are the parents who are hoping the school is going to give you a virtual option and you are waiting to hear this so you can select it, I give you so much credit. Again, I know that you feel you will be doing what you feel is best for you and your family. It is none of anyone’s business why we choose whatever we choose for our family. Maybe your child has asthma. Maybe you live with an elderly grandparent. Maybe you have an autoimmune disease and you don’t want your child bringing Covid germs home to you. Maybe you just aren’t feeling comfortable sending your kids back to school. Whatever your reasons are, they are your reasons and no one else’s. None of us have to answer to anyone else. We have to provide our children with an education, that is what we have to do. The form in which we do this is up to us. Let us all be accepting of one another and the choices we make for our families. Let’s turn all the judgement into acceptance, kindness and understanding.
Maybe you are the parents like me. The parents who are waiting for more information to see what we are going to do with our kids in the Fall. Maybe you are undecided like me. My friend wrote that having this looming over her was preventing her from enjoying her summer. Maybe you are like me and you are living in a summer bubble. I love the summer. I love not dealing with school and getting a break from it all. I’m just going to stay right here in my present summerness.
Tomorrow my daughter begins her theater camp. She is going to camp from 9-4 all day long for two weeks. I have asked her how she feels about wearing a mask all day because I am nervous for her. If you know Ella, you know that her deep love is for theater. You know that she has been missing it deep inside her bones for four months now. She gets to go back to her theater tomorrow. That is all she cares about. I will find out more details after camp and hear how she did. I am going to be very honest and tell you that I am nervous. However, I have a lot of trust in the people who run the theater. I know they care about their students. I know they are taking a lot of safety precautions. I am trusting them to keep my baby safe. This will be a good test for me to see how she will do in school with a mask.
Here’s what I have to say to all of us about sending our kids back to school. I know that the Governor is truly the one who is going to dictate if our kids can go back to school. I also know that if they do go back that he can shut it down again. I know that he may state that our kids have to wear masks all day. He may state that he is worried about kids wearing masks all day and that the school has to keep everyone six feet apart. I know that the superintendent, the principals, the teachers and all the staff are going to do their very best to keep our kids safe.
We don’t know exactly what is going to happen. It is only July. Things can drastically change in a month. What I do know is that instead of worrying about stuff that we don’t know yet, let’s first try to just enjoy the summer (other than figuring out childcare if you think you will need it). Let’s live in the moment. When the time comes for us to get the directions for the Fall, I have faith in you that you will make the best decision for your family. I also know that our kids are watching and learning from us always. Teach them to go with the flow. Teach them that it will be ok. Tell them that they can handle whatever they need to do. You can show all of this to them by example. They are watching how you are handling everything. Remember that kids are resilient. Keep the lines of communication open and tell your kids that they can always come talk to you about their worries and concerns. It will be ok. We will all get through this together. I have faith in all of us.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R