Holy cow. I left off my last post with the tongue-in-cheek advice to set the bar low. But now I mean it. My state's governor just signed an order that schools must remain closed through May 1. This whipped of a frenzy of insanity on FB groups I follow (note to self: take a break from social media; it's not helping). Some parents praise the decision. Some cry, "It's a media hoax!" I don't think it's a media hoax. That makes no sense to me. I assume the people in the unfortunate position to have to make hard decisions that impact families, businesses, and the economy know more than I do and truly don't wish our entire society to collapse.
There are huge issues facing people, driving the fear, which I will explore in the next couple of days after I have time to finesse the thoughts into words, but right now I'm going to address my biggest pet peeve that's risen out of this mess - the people belittling others who express any sort of disappointment over the losses in personal lives over this time of quarantine, in particular those going after the kids.
I read a post earlier that truly stuck in my craw (see: note to self above). A parent posted about her teen's crushed spirit over the cancelation of a life milestone. Someone commented that there were bigger things to worry about and get over it. WHAT? This is why we need to set the bar low for our kids right now, especially the seniors or oldest-in-the-school aged students. Anticipating the awesome privileges and rites of passage and traditions associated with being the oldest for years, their time in school (at least for the foreseeable future) was abruptly cut off with sometimes only hours of notice. They didn't get to say goodbye to friends and teachers. Over just a day or two, mandates unspooled; first social distance and then social isolation. Proms canceled. Graduations canceled. Sports seasons canceled. College entrance exams canceled. And then to have to listen to adults telling the kids that these things don't matter? That people are dying and suck it up? Telling them to log onto a computer and navigate elearning that's never been part of their lives or their teachers' lives before? What happened to grace and compassion? I have told all my students and my own kids that they are allowed to be disappointed. Heck, I'm a runner and several of my races that I've worked toward are canceled or deferred. I AM ALLOWED TO BE DISAPPOINTED and so are our kids. This does not diminish the seriousness of what's happening in the world. It's a scary and uncertain time. We can all realize this, and also realize that it just sucks (in the words of the kids) that life experiences shuttered to the side right now can't be replicated.
I'm setting the bar low for now. My students have work they're expected to complete - but I have to be cognizant of the fact that English class may not be the priority for a little while because they're overwhelmed with the emotions of the pandemic and the searing sadness of missing some pretty great life events. I'm setting the bar low for my kids. I had to move my daughter out of her dorm and she was devastated; her first real taste of independence turned sour. My sons miss their friends and sports workouts. It's okay for them to be bummed out. Yes, they need to finish their elearning, but I'm not going to micromanage them right now. My house may not be as clean as I'd like with five people here all day, every day. That's okay, because I'm processing a lot, too. I urge you all to give yourself permission to give yourselves grace, the permission to be sad and disappointed and even a little angry that things are so out of your control right now. The time will return for great rigor and schedules and tidy homes and perfect meals. It always does.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.