Born @ 27 weeks
2lbs 7oz

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Back to School (Again)

Our boys have been in school (in person) seven days since last March. 

Moments ago, I dropped them off for their first day (again) of fourth and fifth grade. 

We were all a little anxious, awkwardly dancing an old routine.

"Whose week is it to feed Ms. Pickles? Meatball needs water!"
"Did you get a water bottle?"
"Where is your other glove?"

All the welcomed, familiar chaos that has dictated our lives since preschool - trying to herd cats, avoiding tears. People scattered. Voices often raised. "Allllexxxxa, play some music - LOUD!" Followed abruptly by Mom "ALEXA. OFF."

It's a tango we have loved and lost. Today there were nerves - so many thoughts and hesitations, ones that didn't exist prior. A loss of self assuredness. A distrust in what is certain. A once thunderous clod turned tip toe for fear of what could change at a moment's notice.

It has been the FOUR of us for most of the year. No other families in our homes. No extended family present. No neighbors bouncing in and out of back doors. No baby sitters or date nights. It's just been us. 

Dare I say that the PTSD of being around other people is real? Not just in the trepidation that lingered as the kids prepared to return to school, but personally and profoundly.  When I do break from our bunch for a walk or some time to myself, I'm not calling to chatter with friends. I'm not cultivating relationships that once came so easy. Often, I find I need the alone time so deeply that I walk solemnly, quietly, listening to a book or appreciating the silence.

For those very close friends we have seen (masked and outside), sometimes, I find myself at a loss for words. It's as if the energy - buzz, if you will - or excitement - soccer games and new restaurants, gatherings, dinner parties, travel and books to read - is muffled by the surrounding noise of the virus, it's impact, our children and politics. It feels somber, like the polite small talk at a wake. Belly laughs not allowed - just community. Sitting in it - together.

We've challenged each other this year to find silver linings. We know: Time with family, more cooking, true friendships, less fan-fare, smaller world, simpler life. I can also include the reprieve from the fear of school shootings.... and lice. 

Obviously not all on the same scale, but I think what our children will learn most this year (as well as myself) is disappointment. Followed by the silver lining of being able to bounce back from it!

The anticipation to return to school quickly took priority of 'things to look forward to', as early as December 26th. It's all we talked about. Seeing friends, being with teachers, actually participating in art and music!

Unfortunately, three of the four of our family were exposed to Covid ten days ago - the Saturday before school started. By Sunday, we knew the kids weren't going. As we navigated protocols, scrambled for testing sites, when to actually get tested post exposure for the most accurate results, school rules and the weighted responsibility of potentially exposing a newly opened school to Covid.... we officially, gravely crawled into quarantine.  

Having to tell our boys became another heartache. 

Through the tears and disappointment, emotional tantrums and rightful outbursts, they had to Zoom last week as the rest of their little worlds returned to 'normal'. They watched like a voyeur as kids milled around the longed-for-classroom. They had to raise virtual hands and witness their community without truly being a part of it. 

Day after day last week, there were complaints, tears, anger and more. But they did it. Just like every other disappointment this last year. We did it. 

Last night, as Shaw crawled into bed he said, "I feel like it is Christmas Eve..." with the anticipation for school. 

We did it (again).

Through the canceled birthday parties and camps, called off graduation celebrations and holidays with family, abandoned playdates and slumber parties, postponed adventures and growth. There has been A LOT of disappointment. In turn, our boys also have learned resilience, which is what I hope defines these Covid kids for the rest of their lives.