The kids have been back in school for well over a month, but I still have not settled in yet. I suspect it is because this year feels different. Like most parents, I agonized over the decision to do in-person or virtual this year.
Safe at home
Last year my kids started their first years of elementary school and high school respectively. (I know…it’s quite the spread.) Luckily my children both thrived academically, but of course there are a lot of social aspects of development that they missed out on. Can you imagine being at the age where you are trying to find yourself with your primary outlet for interaction and entertainment being a social media app?! And my 6 year old, while he is reading above grade level, he is woefully behind in soft skills like taking turns, sharing, raising his hand, sitting still etc. So in May when our deadline came to make the decision to be in-person or virtual, we decided it was time for the kids to be in school. In all of the worrying about how to keep our children safe from COVID, I forgot about the ever-present risk of sending your kids to school that existed before and will exist after the pandemic.
Back in the building
Since my 15-year-old was virtual last year, this is her first year being physically in high school. There was a mix of nerves and excitement for both of us. During the first week of school, she attended the first home football game of the season. What we didn’t know until the next morning is that across town, two high school students were shot. Thankfully, neither child was critically injured, but it was a scary reminder that there is more to fear than just COVID when sending our kids to school. Did you know that in 2021 there have been at least 82 incidents of gunfire on school grounds resulting in 21 deaths and 47 injuries nationwide? And we still have 3 months left of 2021!
Never get desensitized to gun violence
School shootings have become devastatingly commonplace. Our kids have active shooter drills even at the elementary school level. While I’m glad they are learning how to be prepared, I hate that they have to be. I remember being in high school when Columbine happened, and I remember feeling both shocked and unsettled. And you can’t talk about school shootings without talking about Sandy Hook. As devastating as it was, I followed my routine when school shootings happen. I read every story I could, I read the children’s names, studied their faces, and immersed myself in every detail. I never want to become desensitized to the shooting of children.
In the midst of the chaos of a virtual school year, I wish that I would have taken at least a moment to acknowledge and be grateful for the peace that came with knowing my kids were safe.