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Firsts

By Carissa Tobin

TUE SEP 08, 2020

School is starting, ready or not. Kind of.

You may be sending your child to their first day of kindergarten - online. Your college sophomore may be at home with you rather than returning to campus. You may have opted for your preschooler to forego school entirely and you're trying to come up with a care plan that feels safer.

Maybe you’re a teacher, and you’re teaching hybrid. Maybe you’re at a smaller school that is teaching in-person. Maybe you’re doing distance learning, and your shoulders and neck hurt from the ache of being on a screen all day long.

My online classroom is ready!
My online classroom is ready!

But ready or not, here we go. Or stay. At home.

Without the usual fanfare, it seems kind of disheartening. It’s hard to get back into the swing of things when we feel like, “this isn’t the swing I was hoping for!” It’s hard to be kind when your three-year-old is screaming “Mama, Mama, COME, I NEED you!” In fact, I’d say things are just hard now. Whether the school year affects you or not, we’re about to enter our third season under this pandemic.

People are treating it differently, and that makes sense. People aren’t the same. They have different values and different situations and different dilemmas. Even people who you love and respect may have different risk tolerances than you. Usually these are private things, but suddenly, you’re forced to discuss with your loved ones just how lax or intense your precautionary measures are. You might feel rebuffed by someone who wants you to wear a mask in their backyard even though you’re 15 feet apart. You might feel like your safety has been put at risk when a neighbor walks into your yard as you’re pulling Creeping Charlie from the lawn. You may feel your heart break when your daughter looks at you with worry in her eye at an outside distanced playdate and says about her friend, “He’s too close.”

I just listened to a podcast by Brené Brown where she talked about the difficulties of firsts. How we feel so lost and disoriented, because it's the first time we've ever dealt with something like this.

To her point, we don’t know how to do this. So we try our best, and we try to be kind to those who feel differently than us. This school year is bound to be difficult. First it’s the start of school. Halloween is right around the corner - surely there will be different points of view about what to do about that. Then will come winter holidays. Some will want to celebrate in groups; others will feel safest hunkered down at home - but it won’t mean they don’t miss their loved ones and it certainly won’t mean they love them any less.

So on this non-traditional First Day of School - and let's hope the last one like it for awhile - it's pretty clear.

Life is showing us: school’s here, and we’ve got a lot to learn.