Updated: Jun 8
I took a little walk down Memory Lane today. I suppose I was grieving a little. I remembered practicing Trick-or-treating, making certain that each child was ready to either push the doorbell or answer the door when Halloween came. I thought of all the Thanksgiving feasts where we practiced manners, trying different foods and saying “I wouldn’t care for any” instead of “Yuck! That’s gross!” I thought of the Christmas play in which each child was given a role they could handle in just the way they could handle and man, did they shine! I was even remembering the meticulous way we handle fire drills, starting with one that is a simple announcement and building to ones later that have the full siren. It’s funny how those of us who work with these kids become so in tune to their needs that they almost think ahead of them, preparing the environment for their success. We did not have the opportunity to prepare our kids for this. Teachers pay teachers didn’t have nifty lesson plans to prepare students with special needs for a pandemic (but they do now!). I'm not sure what we would have said. I’m not sure we were prepared for it ourselves. I remember sitting with the upper school on the day before we went home at the governor’s request. We had a sort of town hall meeting for them to ask questions ...express concerns. Their questions were narrowed down to the idea of two weeks away from school. They agreed to stay the course. We talked about how eager we would be to return. Some of them had their doubts. One wanted to know if fishing counted as PE. Not one of us understood the gravity of it. And later that day, not one of us adequately said good-bye. Today it hit me. Without hand-holding or social stories or picture schedules or transitional cues, we sent them home to learn. All the things we know about how to create the best opportunity for success for our kids we never had the opportunity to do. And you... parents and caregivers and families took your babies home and had school. You have taught them and supported them and given them sensory breaks and walked them through this crazy time like pros. You have taught their minds and fed their bodies and calmed their fears. You have nurtured their souls. Tonight I realized that at the end of the day, our kids are gonna be fine. They are gonna be fine because you know what they need. You, who were their first teachers are teaching them again (briefly, I hope because we can’t wait to get them back!) and you are killing it. And these resilient kids, without props to hold them up or time to process their new adventure, are doing just fine. I am, in no way, making small the huge amount of effort that has put into them being successful through this. But let’s just take a moment to notice that these kids did hard things. Let’s celebrate! Have a party at your house because what these kids did by being wildly successful outside their safe routines is astounding! It’s big stuff! Hey! While you are at it, look in the mirror and celebrate that person too! Teachers and parents alike! We have lost a lot this year, some things we will never get back but your kids have gained some things too, and maybe, just maybe those were the very most important things today after all! I love you fiercely!