Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Pt. 32 - Upcoming Decisions.

Day 68 - May 21st, 2020

     I spend most mornings lately propped up on my side of the bed, nearest the open window which is almost always occupied by a curious cat or two. I love just witnessing the way the sun filters through the new leaves and the hilarious facial expressions my kittens make as they stalk morning birds and squirrels. I wonder if it would annoy them to know how adorable I find their intense hunting looks.

     I sip my coffee here - in an oversized mug, swirled with just enough cream, warming both my heart and my hands. And usually, I'm doing so with plans or excitement for the day. At the very least, satisfaction in knowing that I have no where to rush off to, and my tasks of the day will get checked off between moments of stillness and fresh air.

     Some days, though, there are internal battles. They sneak up on me in quarantine. I find peace and calm in knowing that I'm doing all I can to keep my family safe, but then a new adjustment comes along and I'm reminded of how dire, unknown, and sometimes disappointing the bigger picture is. I caught one of those curve-balls last night, and I'm still tossing it from hand to hand, trying to figure out what to do with it.

     As the school year wraps up (with 16 more days of distance learning, to be exact), the CDC has released their suggested guidelines for planning next school year in the event that the fall still carries a moderate risk of spreading the virus. It's long, and while most of it feels welcome after the illness gauntlet of the last six school years (why weren't they cleaning like this all along?!), many of the suggestions seem unfathomable. The largest being mask-wearing for each and every full school day. It's an uncomfortable prospect for all students, but how do they expect elementary children to comply safely? The guidelines would also take things like recess and curriculum extension instruction away so there'd be no communal spaces like playgrounds, gyms, or auditoriums. How?

     I saw a social media post yesterday that announced the deadline for ordering school supply kits for next year and thought - should we doing this now? Will there even be a classroom to fill?

     I digested this information last night, feeling mostly hopeless. When my kids were little, I dreamed of homeschooling them so I could hold onto their tiny years and direct their education off the societal conveyor belt. Maybe it was also a little bit about my unrealized dream of teaching. But as my kids grew through their incredible schools, worked with impressive and caring teachers, and made kind friends, I knew they were not only okay, but probably better off socially. And through years of volunteering in the schools and then working through this quarantine situation, I've learned how difficult it is to teach your own kids vs someone else's. There's a different level of respect and understanding of roles. We've worked out a lot of kinks in the last ten weeks, but we've done it with outlined instruction and professional support. What concerns me, is that schools may not offer distance learning programs in the fall - and who knows, maybe they will. But I know that educators and some parents are anxious to get students back into classrooms and their plans for operating could be either too stringent or too lax. With an immuo-compromised kid at home, I need to have contingency plans. If distance learning isn't an option, I need to consider the fact that I may need to figure out the formal requirements of homeschooling in NYS, also knowing that I may not want to do it once things are legitimately safe. Can they go back mid-year? Do I want to steal Henry's 4th grade and final elementary year from him if all (or most of) his classmates return for all the traditions and celebrations of their milestone year? The unknown is so difficult.

     I know I'm not alone in the unknown, by any means. There are people in leadership positions that have to make decisions for the masses while wading chest-deep in the unknown, and I do not envy them. I think that sometimes, though, making life-altering decisions for your kids can feel just as impactful. I don't want to do wrong by them. I don't want to be the catalyst of their future regrets. And yet, while I can gather and include their feelings, I can't rely on their undeveloped selves to decide what's best for them, either.

     Matt told me that I shouldn't yet be worrying about the logistics of next school year before the current one has even finished. Maybe he's right. But I just watched 68 days barrel by us in a flash, and in another 68, it'll be time to make difficult decisions. I'm trying not to sign myself up for a summer of juggling this curve-ball, but I also know I can't just sit back and wait for the routine of school supply shopping and teacher letters hitting the mailbox and picking out new school shoes. Life isn't unfolding the way it usually does, and I'm largely okay with that. I just have to decide what life looks like for my kids going forward. I'm not just choosing a new path to go down that unnerves me in its unfamiliarity. I'm tasked with creating a whole new path where one does not yet exist, unless the powers that be do a good job of creating it for me. And that is an unsettling prospect.

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