The late summer cicadas are buzzing and clicking, and even though it's still steamy hot in Atlanta, there's the occasional cooling breeze that promises the glories of autumn to come. Yeah, okay, that's a couple of months away, but still. And there's something in the air besides a cooling breeze. It's usually the smell of new bookbags, notebook paper, pencils, and crayons. New shoes. End of summer haircuts.
Usually. But not this year.
A virus has changed all that. Bookbags aren't needed in a virtual classroom. Neither are new shoes. Pencils, notebook paper, and crayons may come in handy, even if most of the work will be done via computers. End of summer haircuts are probably still in order for all those zoom classes.
But first day of school photos with bright shiny faces, new clothes, bookbags they won't grow into until later in the year, and freshly combed hair won't be happening. The search for the new classrooms and meeting new classmates won't be happening, either.
It's weird. This whole thing is weird. It's this generation's duck-and-cover. JFK assassination. 9-11. Different - they're all different - but something that will shape their lives going forward. And these kids will get through it fine. I'm not so sure about the teachers and parents, but the kids will be fine.
And though I'll miss the first day of school photos, I hope and believe that this pandemic will bring about some long overdue changes - greater appreciation (and remuneration) for educators, sensible affordable healthcare, workable nationwide and statewide plans to handle such unexpected events, and other foundational changes that will benefit generations to come.
All right, all right. Naive. But I can hope. Until then, I'll sharpen some pencils, bury my nose in a box of crayons, listen to the cicadas, and look forward to cooler air and colorful leaves.
We've got this. The kids have got this. Chill.