Monday, March 29, 2021

COVIDiary: Back to School

No new shoes. No new backpacks. No new uniforms. But masks, water bottles, and laptops at hand, our kiddos returned to almost full face-to-face school this week.

For the past two weeks, the students have been divided with half going Monday and Tuesday and the other half going Thursday and Friday. It seemed a good way to acclimate everyone to the new rules of masking and social distancing, classroom arrangements, and lunch/recess accommodations. The teachers have to do double-duty (when haven't they?) by teaching the in-class students as well as those opting to continue virtual school. 

I know Liam and Charlotte were glad to get back; they both admitted it to me. Just being with their friends and teachers and in a familiar space lifted their spirits, I think. 

Teachers and staff have been vaccinated, and everyone remains masked. No use of water fountains,so the kids have to bring their own water bottles. Desks are separated. Lots of hand sanitizer. 

Praying all goes well with the return to in-school learning. I know parents and grandparents want the best for everyone, but it's been a hard, hard eight months as we've struggled with technology glitches, wonky schedules, and basic algebra, multiplying fractions, and decimals (me!). 

Historic. A time for the ages. The kids will be fine academically. They've learned a lot these past months, much of it not academic. Things like resilience, creative problem-solving, and flexibility. 

We'll all recover. We'll never forget, though. And teachers aren't paid enough. Ever.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

When Will We Ever Learn?

At what point in time and place will white "Christian" folks accept responsibility for the injustices we slam onto other races and ethnicities? 

Not a week goes by without some violent act against Blacks, Asians, Latinos, Muslims, and others considered "different" or off-kilter or "not one of us" just because they are. Just because they want the same respect and opportunities and rights. 

If you're white, I bet your brain automatically goes to "not all white people, not me!" Well, you know, I don't know. Speaking for myself, no, my family never owned slaves, I do my best to work at being anti-racist, and I've always worked in professions with colleagues of diverse races and backgrounds. But I am aware that simply because of the color of my skin I have an advantage that outweighs even the disadvantage of my age and my sex. 

My white European features and style of dress - however plain and unremarkable - give me a free pass for all sorts of things. No one steps aside to avoid me on a sidewalk or holds their purse or packages tighter when I'm near. No one has a problem with my hairstyle (except me!) or speech patterns. I'm pretty confident that if I'm stopped for a traffic violation (haven't been in years, but, hey, who knows?), I'll come out of it alive, even if I show some attitude.

White privilege is real and deeply embedded in our culture and government. The sooner we pale folks own up to it, the sooner we can work to tease out all the threads tangled up in this privilege and straighten them out so that everybody's "thread" is equal in opportunity and respect. The color of that thread should not and cannot matter. 

To our Black, Asian, Latino, Muslim sisters and brothers, we owe recognition, respect, and a fierce effort to ensure our skin privilege never again puts them in danger or at economic, educational, or cultural disadvantage.

When will we ever learn? It will take work. Hard, good work. But this has to stop.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

COVIDiary: One Year

It's been a year, friends. Remember that thing we thought might change our lives for a few weeks, maybe a month or two, that weird virus-y thing that no one really knew what it was about, but, yeah, better safe than sorry for short time? Yeah, it's been a year. 

I wish I could wax philosophical about how I grew, what I learned over the past twelve months, but I just can't right now. I did none of the things I'd always told myself I'd do if I only had the time. I didn't write. I didn't organize all those boxes and bags of old photos. I didn't sort, discard, downsize. Nope. All I can say is that I survived and my family survived. 

The year feels lost to me. Summer, lost. Autumn, lost. The school-year, lost. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas - all lost. Vague memories of everything with photos as proof, but the real touchstones of traditions and gatherings that mark the years couldn't take place, so what's happened over the last year is a jumble. 

I'm not sure I can really reflect on the impact this pandemic has had on my life until I can get some distance from it. I need time and space to see how - if - it's changed me. What I suspect - at least, for myself - is that there are some lasting scars that I can't acknowledge right now. 

I believe a grieving period is needed. A period to sort through the lost days, the lost connections and memories of things that couldn't happen. 

However, I do believe there's light and life at the end of this dark tunnel. So be gentle with everyone for I'll bet they are fragile after making it through this year, whether or not they want to admit it. Be grateful for the small things. Celebrate the big things. 

That's all I've got right now.