Tonight, as I made your bed and tucked your Batman sheets into place, I glanced at the sign that hangs above your bed, "A superhero sleeps here". For whatever reason, it looked different tonight. I thought about how you haven’t seen your school friends for almost six months. That’s half of a year. One day I picked you up outside your kindergarten playground and you had no idea I was about to tell you we wouldn’t be back on Monday. (And I had no idea we wouldn’t be back that year.) You worried so much about your classmates, so many of them whose parents I didn’t know or who weren’t able to participate online. “Mom, are they okay? Are they getting sick? Do they have enough snacks at their house, so they won’t be hungry?” So many questions weighing heavy on a little six-year-old heart.
You and your sister have been counting down the days, almost counting down the seconds, until your first day of school. You know it’ll be different this year, so different, but you don’t care. You just want to be there. We are days away from the start, and I’m holding my breath hoping we get a chance to have that first day back. Our state isn’t doing a good job of keeping the numbers down (to say the least). If we get to start in-person, we know it will be short-lived. We have done our part this summer and while we sacrificed vacations and sports and playdates with friends, we worried. So my little super hero, it’s time to put on the cape and set our worry aside. It’s time to make a difference.
Every year, you and your sister ask me to read our favorite books about the first day of school. This year, those stories don’t fit, so here is my back-to-school story for you.
This year is going to be different and change can be hard. This year I hope you try extra hard to listen to your teacher. They are so excited to have you back, they missed their students. They will be there to help you every step of the way. Their job is going to be even harder this year, but it’s up to you to help make it easier. That’s what superheroes do. They help, and you my sweet girl, have always been a helper.
Follow the rules and be a good listener. Be kind. Throw kindness around like confetti because everyone needs it right now. (And we need it now more than ever.) Sit where your teacher asks you to, even if it’s not where you want to sit. Have fun at recess and love every second of playing with your friends! Wash your hands when you come back inside. (And please wash them a lot.) I can’t wait to see the artwork you bring home for me to hang. I can’t wait to hear all the details about each and every day. Your classmates are going to be stressed and worried just like you. They have worried about all of the same things we have, but some have even worried about more. Be patient, and I know some days it will be extra hard, and those are the times it will mean the most. There’s going to be some hard days, but there’s going to be some pretty great ones, too.
You know how much I worry, just like you, and it’s hard to let go of the things we can’t control. So I will help you and do all of the things I can control. No one wants an opinion right now, so we must do something that matters. When I go grocery shopping, I’ll pick up some extra things for the food bank. I will make sure to help your teachers find the extra supplies they might need and extra classroom snacks. If your classmates need masks, we will help them find some. I know your friends’ parents and grandparents will be helping, too. You have always surrounded yourself with other superheroes, who want to help the world as much as you do.
Every night when we say our prayers, we always ask God to help guide us to how we can help others. This is your chance, my superhero. I know you are going to love your first day back, even if it’s different. Know how much I’ll miss you on the days you’re at school, but how glad I’ll be that you’re back to the place you have missed so much. I am proud of you and I am proud of your classmates. There is so much about this year we don’t know, but I know you will do all you can to make it better. Thank you for being brave and thank you for being you.