The school year started like any other year with the kids nervous and anxious to make new friends and meet their teachers. I waited patiently as the kids came home so they could tell me all about it. My son being a teeneger waved me off with a meh and my daughter said her teacher was the nicest person she’s ever met. Just another year in the books as the kids get older. Or at least we thought.
As the school year began we all quickly fell into our routines. Taking the kids to school in the morning, volunteering in the afternoon, and picking them up from school. The mindless routine I could almost do with my eyes closed. It just became the daily normal as it had so many years before. Hearing about the occasional field trip one of the kids took and hearing about anything exciting that happened that day. My daughter and I even had what we called ‘Tea Time with Ash’ at the end of the day where she filled me in with all the happenings of her day. It quickly became my favorite part.
As the year went on it was the same routine day in and day out. The relentless repetitiveness of taking the kids to school, volunteering, picking them up, and hearing about their day. Little did we know how that was about to all change. Little did we know all the people we were about to miss without saying goodbye. Little did we know the whole world was about to be different. As the news of Covid-19 spread, the uncertainty of what was next, and the fear increased, schools were closed. At first it was an extended Spring Break, then extended until the end of April, then the news finally broke they’d be closed for the remainder of the year and distance learning would be taking place at home.
In an instant our lives were turned upside down. We were thrown into a new ‘normal’ for the time being. I was learning to distance teach at home and my kids were learning to distance learn at home. They were ripped from their schools, teachers, friends, and told they can’t leave their homes. There was no goodbyes, no packing up their classrooms, no warning of what was about to happen next. We adjusted the best we could learning to teach and learning to learn from home. We all struggled and we all wanted to quit, but this was our new normal for the time being.
Distance learning too soon became repetitive. Waking up looking at what needed to be done and opening the computer to learn. Turning in assignments online and driving a town over to get help with math homework when neither I nor my husband could help. Zoom meetings with their classes so they could say hi and get a glimpse of their friends. The same routine day in and day out while realizing this is not a proper way for the kids to learn, but not having a choice. Classrooms were packed up and we were told to pick up our things outside the classroom, outside the building. A bittersweet moment as my son packed up his locker and took one final look around his school as he heads to the high school next year.
The last day of school finally came. It was filled with turning in assignments online, gathering all the work they’ve done at home to make sure it was all turned in, and closing down the computers. It looked so different then so many years before. No field day. No end of the year assemblies with awards. No graduations. No yearbook signing. No goodbyes. No last day of school pictures in front of their schools. Just simply an end to the madness. A feeling that things were finally getting back to normal. Or at least it felt that way because summer is here, everything’s beginning to open back up, and school is over.
As we reflect back on all the things we missed this year and the people we miss, we are thankful. We are thankful for all the teachers and school staff that worked tirelessly to make the new normal as normal as possible. Everything that seemed so repetitive day in and day out is missed – taking the kids to school, hearing about their day, volunteering. We miss it all and we’ll never not value those little moments that never seemed to matter so much before.