Last week, I was on winter break for the entire week. My kids had Friday and Monday off, a revised version of winter break. My February break has become my time to fit in appointments and play stay at home mom. I look forward to dropping my kids off at school, hanging out with Rose during the day, and walking back to the school for pickups. It’s a nice change of pace. However, I was doubtful that the week would go as I had envisioned as I previewed the weather at the beginning of the week. Snow, snow, snow. Our town has gone back and forth on the snow day debate. At first, all snow days were remote. Then they gave the kids two traditional snow days, that happened back to back. Now, they’re back to remote learning days when it snows.
So, following the holiday on Monday, I dropped the big girls off at school on Tuesday before running to the grocery store with Rose. Rose had forgotten the name of Whole Foods. “What’s this place again?” she asked as she entered the store for the first time in over a year.
We made a few more stops before it was suddenly time to pick the girls up from school. We sloshed through puddle after puddle, before arriving at the pickup line. Adi spotted us first, waved furiously as I tried to motion her over. She remained glued to her place in line and despite the mask, I could tell she was happy to see us. Was I breaking protocol? I quickly saw Wren and instructed her to retrieve Adi from the line. Then, we made our way home, me on tip toes, my daughters jumping full force in every puddle they met. There were afternoon snacks, story sharing, and a long afternoon with no rushing around. It was glorious.
Wednesdays are a remote learning day and just a half day for kids. So, I took off for previously scheduled appointments, a physical and dentist appointment, while the girls spent the morning with my husband, who is thankfully still working from home. By the time I got home, the school work was basically done and we had another vacation like afternoon.
Thursday’s forecast called for snow, but the remote learning day wasn’t called until 5:30am. The girls woke up and I broke the news to them. They were bummed. There was sulking, complaining, and a few, “I’m not doing school today.” I braced myself for the day ahead, not quite sure what to expect. I’ve never witnessed a full remote learning day-unless you count last spring, which was completely different. I checked Google Classrooms, set alarms on the iPad, and tried to get everyone ready. I quickly realized that they didn’t need me. They’re completely independent. Adi brought her Chromebook up to her room and didn’t emerge again until close to noon for lunch. Wren settled at the kitchen table and alternated between live meetings with her class and independent work. She was fully engaged and busy.
Not sure what to do with myself, I asked Rose if she wanted me to teach her to read…we began with solidifying the letters in her name. She was thrilled to have some undivided attention.
After a quick break for lunch, Wren returned to her school work and Adi retreated back to her bedroom where we heard quite a bit of jumping and running coming from upstairs…which could only mean that it was PE time. Around 2:00 Adi emerged again, declaring she was done for the day. “Great!” I said. “Want to go out in the snow?”
“I’m not done yet,” Wren said. “I still have writing, a read aloud to listen to, and my end of the day reflection.”
“We can wait,” I said. “But…can you hurry?” I was ready to get out of the house!
That night, as the girls settled in for the night, they asked if they would get to go to school the next day. “I’m not sure,” I told them. “It’s still supposed to snow tomorrow. We will have to wait and see.”
“Don’t let it snow. Don’t let it snow.” Adi began moaning. “I just want to go to school.”
“Since when do kids beg for it not to snow?” I thought to myself.
Since remote learning days…
The next day turned out to be another remote day, which once again brought on complaints about how “it’s not fair.” Adi cried, “I just want it to be the weekend,” as I saw the dread for the day that lie ahead. My kids just wanted to go to school. Masks, plexiglass, social distancing aside-they’d still rather be at school.
I watched them settle into their bizarre routine of distance learning that day. I thought about my six year old, completely independent, navigating all sorts of technology to make her school day happen. I watched my third grader asking questions, chatting with friends, and conferring with her teacher. I saw them both working really hard, taking it all so seriously. Once they were in the work, they were happy and worked without a complaint.
But, their earlier complaints and hesitations rang in my mind. I’ve often thought of all the ways this past year has been hard on teachers and schools. I’ve seen the impact that the school year has had on kids, my own included. This winter break helped me to really see my kids-how far they’ve come, how drastically their lives have changed, and all of the ways they have had to “pivot” this school year. Despite it all, they’re thriving in so many ways. They’re learning and connected with the adults and friends at school. They’re also working so hard and making the best of this new reality.
Kids are pretty amazing.