Check on your teacher friends. They are having a rough one today. School closures were extended through the end of the semester.
I don’t want to kick off with the wrong tone but I recall a specific feeling from my younger years. I lost a friend unexpectedly and it was surreal until the funeral. Until that moment there was an outside chance that the hanging dread would turn out to be pointless anxiety. There was a finality in the ceremony that made the truth feel real. It gave me permission to accept reality and to grieve.
At the risk of being hyperbolic, today had a similar dark and final feeling. Our state cancelled the rest of the semester and children will likely report to their next grade level in the Fall. In a moment, the kids and their teachers experienced a sudden loss of hope. Hope that things would return and maybe they would get a few weeks with this class before sending them off to their next adventure. A change to say goodbye.
We will probably all joke about getting extra long spring breaks or some other nonsense. I’ve already made a joke about saving money on laundry detergent and school uniforms. It is to cover the raw feeling that life is a little different and there is another thing that can’t be undone.
There are friendships and relationships that are gone. Social networks that exist only at work and at school. There are burdens being carried by parents that they are unprepared to carry. We are scrambling to schedule zoom and log in to the correct remote learning apps. Six of us in my house all doing something internet or phone call related.
Uncertainty is eating at all of us. Sometimes it bubbles out as bold exclamations that “we can’t keep this up forever!”. Sometimes it is denial and I hear things like, “This is an overreaction!”. Some call it supernatural. Some call it sinister. Who knows. We all cope in different ways. I try to take note.
For the teachers I’ve watched, the reactions are just as varied. I’ve seen some try to maintain sanity and community through light-hearted hang-outs. Making sure that middle school kids in the prime of social butterfly timeline have a chance to poke fun and crack jokes. I’ve seen some pour their hearts into personalized effort for each and every student. I’ve watched some take to Facebook Live and YouTube to create content that makes the students feel like they are close to the teachers they love. Sometimes as simple as reading a book. Others are working to keep up requirements and assignments and try to keep some structure for the students. To give them a point of focus and a goal for the day. I’ve not seen a single teacher throw up their hands. They have continued on doing different things because of what they have in common. They love the children they teacher.
I know that the decision to stay home for the rest of the school year was not made lightly. There were tears shed in our house. Not just because Supermom just got a job as a teacher in four grade levels. We shared a minute of sadness. I just wanted to take that minute and capture it in time to acknowledge that we lost the most precious thing we have as people; time with one another. Shared experience.
Seniors are missing their milestones of graduation and prom. I imagine everyone posting graduation memories isn’t super helpful for their mood but it highlights the emotional energy that we put into our memories. There are weddings and reunions and hundreds of other social gatherings that fell victim to COVID-19. That’s just the way it is. We will get back to normal sometime but we will remember the ghost-of-before.
If you are feeling a little down again today, this post is for you. Me too. It happens. This probably wasn’t all that helpful but you’re welcome. Tomorrow is a new one and we will wake up and look ahead.
To the teachers… THANK YOU! And we feel you. I’m sure I will see you from the background of a zoom call but if not, I’ll see you around in the fall. Until then, don’t lick any doorknobs in public places.
-Underdaddy to the rescue.