Patience, Grace, and Prayer

I have been MIA for a little bit because we made a last-minute decision to head to South Carolina to visit family one more time before the crazy life of virtual school and cheer begins. We practiced a little social distancing but got to see everyone at least for a little bit.  I do have to admit that social distancing in South Carolina vs. social distancing where we live is night and day.  At home, you rarely see anyone without a mask, and stores and restaurants are fairly empty.   Down there, people were hanging out together in groups, not wearing masks, and stores and restaurants were crowded.  Schools had been in session for a couple of weeks and were in person.  We started school here today, and it is 100% virtual.  It’s just a totally different mentality, I guess.  It makes it hard to know which way is the right way.   Despite the differences, we had a great time and were hopefully cautious enough. I despise the long drive to and from every time, but it was worth it to get to spend time with the ones we love.  My one regret was that I didn’t take a single picture! I guess that means I was just living in the moment.

As I mentioned, school started for my girls today.  It is certainly not a normal first day of school by any stretch of the imagination with school being 100% virtual for the foreseeable future.  I did make them get up early and get dressed despite the grumbles I got.  We shall see how long that lasts.  I also made them go on the porch for a first day of school picture, which they said was pointless and dumb.  Then, I was forbidden to take a picture of them at their computers!! Got to love this age! I mean, I have to get at least one, right? I have to post them along with just about everyone else I know today, right?  No, they weren’t in their usual cute first day of school outfits, but it is still a momentous day. It is hard to believe that I have a junior and a 7th grader.  Where has the time gone? I have no idea how long virtual school will last or if or when things will ever get back to normal.  I just pray that my oldest child’s last 2 years of high school aren’t ruined because of this virus.  I really do hope that they will be able to go back to school and enjoy the traditions and rights of passage that come with these last few years of school.  I do like the fact, though, that I didn’t have to do any back to school shopping this year.  We didn’t buy new school supplies as my “school supply collection” from overbuying during my 17 years of teaching provided the majority of things they needed.  I haven’t bought them new clothes in a while either because they have been barely getting dressed for months.  I figure at some point we will need to do some clothes shopping. Maybe for Christmas???

I know that this school year isn’t like anyone wants or cares for, but it is the card we have been dealt.  We might as well make the best of whatever our situation may be. My heart is with teachers all over the country, whether it is their first day or 15th day.  I can’t imagine the stress you are all under. While I am not in the trenches with you anymore, I know that your hearts are hurting for your students and that you are giving it every ounce of energy you’ve got trying to meet the needs of every student.  Give yourself some grace and try to remember to spend a little time on you in the midst of it all. Trust me, I know that is easier said than done, but it is important.  I was never good at that and it is part of why I am no longer teaching.  I don’t want you to burn out like I did.  You’ve got this and you will get through it.  Who knows? Maybe it will turn out to be your best year yet! No matter what, you are all deserving of Teacher of the Year this year! 

Parents, I encourage you to also give yourself grace. I know this is hard for you too.  I know you are juggling a million different hats, and you are stressed to the max.  You can do it too. When you are frustrated or discouraged, take some time to walk away, take some deep breaths, and then jump right back in with a smile on your face.  You’ve got this! I also need you to give grace to all the teachers working overtime to meet the needs of your child.  It isn’t their fault that the technology is not working.  It isn’t their fault we are in this situation.  They are just doing their best. The only way to get through this is together…you, your child, and your child’s teachers. You have to support each other or we will never make it over this mountain before us. We are all in this together.

This year isn’t going to be easy for anyone, but we can get through it together with a little bit of patience, grace, and a whole lot of prayer.  We can do it! 

Anchored,

Build Character

Life continues to be stressful and ever changing.  My Facebook feed has been filled with so much sadness following our governor’s announcement yesterday that school is officially closed for the remainder of the year. My heart breaks for all of my teacher friends who are struggling with this decision.  I know that they all invest so much into their students and are hurting knowing that they won’t be able to see their smiling faces in their classroom again.  They are worried about their students and are spending hours a day trying to find ways to still teach them from home.  I know many students are also struggling with this decision.  For some, school is their only safe place.  It is the only place where they feel secure and loved.  For others, there is worry about not being able to see their friends.  High school seniors are crushed that their final year is not turning out the way they have dreamed for so long.  I can only imagine what it would be like for my students with special needs had something like this happened when I was still teaching.  So many of them thrive with the structure and discipline of school in ways they aren’t able to at home.  My heart goes out to all of the parents of students with special needs who will have an even greater challenge.  It won’t be a simple fix of getting materials online for them.  Distance learning is not going to cover what they really need.  It just doesn’t work that way.  I also feel for all the other parents who are having to figure all of this out. Trying to balance work, childcare, and homeschooling is very daunting task.  Many will truly struggles and are feeling overwhelmed. No one is alone in this! 

The fear of the unknown for teachers, students, and parents may feel like it is more than some can bear.  I am here to tell you that this is not something that is going to make or break any of us.  Yes, it is going to be tough, but it isn’t what truly matters in this world right now.  Life will go on, and the safety and health of all is much more important right now than school.  It is not going to traumatize the kids. The school system will figure out ways to catch them up and move them along.  Teachers will step up in ways never thought possible with creative solutions. Parents will make it work the best they can. We will all be okay.  What is important is our response to all of this as adults (teachers and parents).  The children will be okay if their parents and teachers are okay.  Be patient and give yourself some grace.  No one is expecting parents to suddenly become expert teachers or teachers to have all of the answers right away. The kids aren’t going to remember the hardships that we all faced during this time years from now.  That is not what is going to stand out in their minds.  They are going to remember the fun that they had at home with their families.  They are going to remember all of the board games that are being played, the puzzles being put together, the art projects they have made, the teachers who read stories to them through their computers, the coaches who are had virtual practices so they can all still connect with their teams, the school buses delivering them meals, the groceries they left on their neighbor’s doorstep, and so many more wonderful moments of love and laughter.  That is what is most important.  That is the greatest kind of education that we can give our kids.  

There is strength in togetherness, there is strength in kindness, and there is strength in families.  All of that strength is what it going to carry us through to the other side.  Instead of worrying about how your kids are going to be educated or how to make homeschool work, spend time giving them the best education of all.  Show them that family matters by spending time together.  Teach them that love, above all else, matters most. Tell them that you love them over and over again.  Teach them kindness and compassion by showing them how to help those in need.  Teach them to look out for their loved ones.  Show them how to be flexible by just simply going with the flow.  Teach them responsibility by giving them chores.  Have cooking lessons or show them how to fold laundry or change a tire.  Teach them persistence by not letting them give up even in hard times. Increase their confidence by offering meaningful praise. Teach them to know and love God.  Be present in their lives.  Simply talk to each other. There is no greater education you can give them than building their character.   The math, English, science, and history will come eventually. Use this time now to grow them into amazing little people. We have really been given a rare gift. The gift of time. Use it wisely. It is all going to be okay.  I promise. We will get through this. How you respond is the key to getting through it successfully. Respond with love and grace. You’ve got this!

Anchored,